Deckson Bundak: What is BUAH DABAI?

Dabai is one of many exotic fruits in Sarawak.

It is commonly known as orkana - means 'black olive' in Hokkien, but technically it is not an olive.

The dabai tree can grow up to 21 meters high and it's furry leaves are thin and its twigs are covered with golden down. A planting distance of 9 meters is recommended. You need to prune the young trees to produce more bushy growth.

Dabai trees are dioecious (i.e have separate sexes) with male and female trees required for fruiting! Dabai are white in colour when immature and turn black when ripe. They are oblong in shape like an olive and have thin, edible skin. The yellowish white flesh wraps around a three-angled seed. Soak the dabai in hot water until they are soft.

The yellowish flesh tastes creamy. Eating the skin is a personal preference. For taste, try either soy sauce or salt. You can also preserve it just by soaking them with black soy sauce or with coarse salt (without the seed). Dabai fried rice is a specialty dish in Sarawak. However this is a seasonal fruit.

The second best thing that comes out from a fruit is the nut inside the seed. Crack it open with a mortar and pestle set; the good old-fashion way. Use a toothpick to remove the nut if necessary.

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Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on June 12, 2020 at 12:35pm



砂拉越黑橄欖(Dabai Sarawak)的原生地在砂拉越河岸,尤其在詩巫、加帛及泗裏街河岸旁最容易看到黑橄欖樹。早期黑橄欖只是本地人喜歡吃的壹種果子。盛產季節到來時,人們最愛將新鮮果實洗凈,投入熱水浸泡約10分鐘,果肉變軟再調點醬油和糖壹起吃,下飯也特別開胃。












用途多多的黑橄欖經濟潛能無限,不但是砂拉越壹大特色,相信未來也將持續為國家帶來更高經濟收入。(東方日報 2014年12月12日)

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 27, 2015 at 11:32pm

The origin-linked quality virtuous circle

Certain food and agricultural products have a specific quality linked to their production origin that can make them famous as a result of characteristics linked to their local natural and human environment. This specific quality provides a product with the potential to play a role in a sustainable development process, inasmuch as local stakeholders can turn latent local resources into active assets, preserving and enhancing them, so that they receive society’s recognition and are better remunerated in markets. 

This part of the guide describes the various stages in the methodology to be adopted for sustainable development based on the origin-linked quality virtuous circle.

Origin-linked products are those that can be differentiated as a result of their local identity or typicity. Their identification as GI products is justified by the particular local context in which they originate and that gives them a specific nature, quality or reputation in consumers’ eyes. Their anchoring in their production area allows a quality virtuous circle to be established, inasmuch as promotion of their origin-linked quality can generate positive economic, social and environmental effects, which can then be
reinforced over time thanks to sustainable reproduction of the local resources involved.

This virtuous circle corresponds to a value creation and preservation process with four main stages (see Figure 1), starting when local stakeholders gain awareness of the potential of the product and agree to launch a collective process. Added value is a result of consumers’ and market recognition of the product, and may if necessary be reinforced by official recognition and legal protection of the GI. The sustainability of this production and promotion system for the origin-linked product will depend both on remuneration from the market and on sustainable reproduction of local resources.

Figure 1: The origin-linked quality virtuous circle

The main stages in the origin-linked quality virtuous circle are:

1. Identification: growing local awareness and appreciation of the potential of the product.

2. Product qualification: establishment of rules for value creation and the preservation of local resources.

3. Product remuneration linked to its marketing and to management of the local system.

4 Reproduction of local resources, boosting the sustainability of the system.

5 Public policies providing an institutional framework and possible support for the
various stages in the circle.

Throughout this process, the role of both local economic actors (those involved in production and marketing) and external actors (government authorities, NGOs, research and development centres etc.) is vital. The institutional framework (public policies and regulations) also plays an important role in enhancing and preserving origin-linked quality. (Linking people, places and products,pg 2-3)

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 26, 2015 at 6:57pm

Wow!! It's the Bintulu belacan

Two things that make Bintulu international. First, from its seas are exported liquefied natural gas. Second, from its coasts ( see inset) are exported the finest and best quality 'Belacan' or shrimp paste. While in Bintulu, this year opening 'Bubuk' or shrimp season have kept me excited to blog about the making of Bintulu belacan. In a year the bubuk season come twice and the next one would normally be in August. What makes Bintulu belacan simply the best? I think it is the waters off its 14 miles of protected natural park beaches stretching from Likau river to Kuala Similajau river. From its blue and unpolluted coastal waters the local fishermen catch the shrimps in nets and these are immediately brought to town to be sold. Another point worth mentioning is the distinct hot and dry weather here that is ideal for the drying process. Ultimately , I think its the legendary skills of the fishing folks here in the fine art of making the belacan as passed from generations to generations with some recipe kept a family secret. In this blog however I'm about to let some secrets out so that you can try your luck with the smell, the sweat and the blisters or else just fork out RM 60 for a kilo of belacan !.
Small fishing boats park nearby the town local market have the shrimps ready packed in ' gantangs'. At the early morning price is inelastic - it's a sellers market. Later in the day when the shrimps are less fresh and the demand less, it's a buyers market. However, when the weather is cloudy or rainy the shrimps can sell much cheaper because there's little sun to help dry them. But then Bintulu's weather is such that when the bubuk season is around there are always days when the sun naturally brings cheer.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 26, 2015 at 6:57pm
Buying 'bubuk' early morning near to Bintulu's tamu or local market.

The season of shrimps in Bintulu has been exceptionally good this year. The fishing folks have been kept busy for a full month now. Before the shrimps land on the negotiation table or roadside market the fishermen have packed them into plastic bags weighing a 'gantang'' which is equivalent to about two and a half kilo. The gantang is always the preferred weight measure for sentimental and traditional reasons, I guess. At the inset is shown the main ingredients for the making of belacan. These are - fresh shrimps, coarse salt, pounded red rice for colouring. The steps in making belacan can be described briefly here. Firstly, the shrimps are marinated with salt and red rice and kept for 24 - 48 hours. Then, it is dried on mats in the hot sun. Next, the men and ladies folks alike pound it into a fine paste. More pictures below.

The dried shrimps are pounded in a special vessel called the ' lesung' which is a wooden mortar. In Bintulu, people prefer to use the mortar from the hardest timber species here called the belian. The 'anak lesung' or the pestle is also made from belian timber as seen in picture above. It takes about 2-3 rounds of pounding to obtain a fine paste of belacan. The pounding process can stretch to several days.

Above is the finished belacan product. Each piece is about a kilo in weight and the selling price currently in Bintulu tamu or local market is RM 40-60 depending on quality and availability. Normally for a small family a kilo of belacan will last for about a year or slightly less depending on usage. That's about it folks. If you haven't try Bintulu belacan please do so. Put it in your list of 1000 things to do before you die! (From My Sarawak 2 )
Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 26, 2015 at 6:46pm

Sarawak Layerd Cake 

Sarawak cake is a layered cake, traditionally served in Sarawak, Malaysia on special occasions. In the Malay language, they are known as Kek lapis Sarawak, Kek lapis Moden Sarawak, Kek Sarawak or Kek lapis. They are often baked for religious or cultural celebrations such as Eid ul-Fitr, Christmas, Deepavali, birthdays and weddings. People in Malaysia practice an open house on festival day. A unique feature of Sarawak's open houses is the modern layered cakes.


Modern Sarawakian layered cakes were introduced to the people of Sarawak from innovation inspired by Western cake-making in early 1980s. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with Indonesian layer cakes, based on the ingredients used in making the cakes.

In 2011, the history of Sarawak layered cakes once again change by a new generation (Sarawakian) of innovative natural layer cakes evangelist named Kek lapis Qalas Qalas.[citation needed] By introducing modern design and traditional layer, coupled with new flavors which inspired from home-made inspiration, each layer is tastefully interlaced with various natural flavours in between the original recipe, modern taste and knowledge from their ancestor.

Sarawakian modern layered cakes can be divided into two categories: cakes with ordinary layers and cakes with patterns, motifs, or shapes. All must have at least two colours. The cake can be baked in an oven or microwave. The batter uses butter or vegetable oil, milk and eggs, and requires a strong arm or electric mixer to be properly prepared. The baked cake has a high, firm texture and the layers are fastened together with jam or a similarly sticky sweet substance. More detailed cakes often require special moulds to maintain the perfect layer thickness.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 26, 2015 at 6:40pm

Sarawak Pepper

Black Sarawak Pepper is grown on Borneo Island, in the State of Sarawak, in Malaysia. It is a product of Malaysia’s Pepper Marketing Board, which works directly with pepper farmers with whom it has had a very successful alliance since 1972. The PMB relies on the farmers for the highest quality fruit, and, in turn, the farmers are paid a premium for their efforts.

As it is the policy of the Pepper Marketing Board to deliver this value-added black peppercorn to its destination just twenty-four hours from the time it is picked, the PMB dries its berries indoors with a continuous flow of hot air. This is in contrast to black peppercorns from all other parts of the world, which are dried in the open air over long periods of time, robbing the spice of some of its wonderful aromatic qualities.

Black Sarawak peppercorns are among the best in the world. They are medium sized, with a bold flavor that blossoms into mingling flavors of fruit, cocoa, and woodsy spices. The flavor is milder than Tellicherry or Wynad. A delicious all-purpose peppercorn, grown and processed with care. A customer favorite.

In recent years the Malaysian Pepper Board has encouraged growers and processors to experiment with techniques aimed at increasing product quality rather than reducing costs, and these efforts are paying off. Freshly picked peppercorns are rushed for processing to preserve freshness and flavor and may go form freshly picked to dried and ready to package within 48 hours. This attention to quality is recognized, and top quality grades are in high demand (and largely absent from the USA market.) We are pleased to be able to offer this fine pepper.

Premium Sarawak pepper is a medium-sized corn with brown grayish hues. It has a mild flavor with a fresh aroma that is often described as fruity with hints of chocolate and syrah. Some of our customers prefer this variety to all others.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 26, 2015 at 6:31pm

Sarawak Litsea

THE Malaysian Intellectual Property Organisation (MyIPO) has approved the registration of Litsara as trademark in class five and for Sarawak, and Litsea as geographical indication last year.

Both registrations were approved for a period of 10 years from Jan 28 last year to Jan 28, 2021, and are made to the Sarawak government.Applications to register these two properties were made by Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) in January last year.

The Intellectual Property Certificates were presented to Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud by MyIPO chairman Datuk Abdul Manan Ismail during the opening ceremony of Bio-Borneo 2012 here yesterday.

Litsea is a plant species, litsea cubeba, growing wild in the highlands of Sarawak. It is traditionally used as food flavouring and medication for stomach ailments by the Bidayuhs and Orang Ulus. Essential oil extracted from the leaves and fruits is aromatic and has strong anti-microbial properties.

The SBC’s analysis of this oil has identified a different chemical composition compared to litsea oil from other regions such as China, which is the main producer of the oil.

The Chinese litsea oil has high citral content and consumers with perfume allergy have been warned to avoid using products containing citral.

The uniqueness of Sarawak litsea oil has potentially put it as an alternative source in the world market.

The chemical composition of Sara- wak litsea has been confirmed by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) and Sirim Environmental Technology Research Centre.

Aside from the registration of Sarawak litsea, pharmaceutical and personal care products which utilise the essential oil will also carry the trademark litsara.

Sarawak litsea is among the 20 geographical indications currently registered in Malaysia. Other Sarawak geographical indications that have been registered are Sarawak Dabai, Bario rice, Sarawak pepper, Sarawak Beras Biris, Sarawak Beras Bajong, Sarawak Sour Eggplant and Sarawak Layered Cake (Kek Lapis Sarawak).

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 26, 2015 at 6:20pm


Midin - The Famous Sarawak Jungle Fernshoot - The plant that obeys an unusual law....Out of 10 Sarawakians you asked, probably 9 or more (meaning 10?) will tell you that Midin is very unique to Sarawak. Claimed to be unique? Well, it is abundant in Sarawak Jungles and since it is a jungle vegetation, don't you think that Indonesia will also have such a vegetation.

In fact, if you googled its scientific name, you will know that India, Cameroon and other places also have Midin as a dish. Whether unique of not is not important, what is important it captured the heart of the Sarawakians and it is delicious enough that all nationalities are not to reject!

Do you know how to differentiate Puncuk Paku and Midin (or Biling) as our native brothers called it? I am always confused and bought based on whatever representation the seller had said. Usually, only after I cooked, I will know whether it is paku or midin. Paku is more sticky when cooked and midin is more crunchy. Let this young men tell you the difference between Paku and Midin. Very informative and a good guide to differentiate Paku and Midin. By the way, i can get Paku in Singapore but not Midin. Why? Since both are equally perishable?

On the net, there are countless recipes of Midin and most well known Sarawak food bloggers will have their recipe for median. The link I have selected today is to show support to our Sarawakian new bloggers who help to promote Sarawak cuisines both in the traditional and innovative ways. She is a young lady who is now staying in West Malaysia and lets learn from her a detail description of Midin vegetation and her recipe.

Before I end, in one of the Star Newspaper Article, it was written “The plant obeys an unusual law — the more you pick, the more it multiplies. Cheers

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 26, 2015 at 6:07pm

Sesar Unjur Sarawak 

Do you know what is Sesar Unjur or Smoke Prawn? It is different from the ordinary dried prawn that we can found in the market. In Sarawak, Sesar Unjur industry can be found in Kampung Belawai, Matu, Daro and Mukah. Its seasonal industry. They has started as early 400 years a go. The local community in the early days produces smoke prawn for own consumption but due to good market demand they decided to produce it commercially.

There is several type of method to produce quality smoke prawn. Some of them just used any kind of wood to dry the prawn but people at Kampung Belawai have their own ways to keep their quality of their smoke prawn. They used “bakau” (rhizophora mucronata) wood to dry the prawn. This wood will produce special aroma and its make the prawn taste sweet and it did not produce a smoke smell on the prawn. Smoke prawn from Belawai did not use any artificial ingredient to keep it lasting for few months.

10 kg of fresh prawn can produce only 1 kg. 1 kg smoke prawn will cost us RM50.00 (factory price). Market price is between RM60 to RM100.00 per kilo.

The workers arrange the fresh prawn on the special "container" before they send it to the "smoke house". The burning process will take few hours. Normally the "smoke house" care taker have to make sure the fire is under control, otherwise the prawn will turn black.

Sesar Unjur or dried prawns are made from fresh prawns, specifically those from the sea. It is indeed a multi million ringgit business Sarawak and it involves a big chain of personnel, from the harvesting of sea prawns to the cleaning and sum drying of the product.

It use to be apoor man’s food according to local story but now, a kilo of the best, straight dried prawns can be as much as RM 1000.00. In Mukah or Belawai, fresh prawns are de-shelled by the dainty hands of women and then sun dried carefully. So this makes it very expensive. The bingger the prawns the better the dried prawns. The best dried ptawns are made from the freshest of the prawns, not just any left overs’ as some people have previously believed.

Smoked prawn is considered important food stuff by the Melanaus. The prawns are harvested from the sea, deskinned, straightened, and smoked over an open hearth. The end product is an appeasing marroon coloration, chewy, savory with richness of prawn.

Kupas tigah can be stored for long period time, and thus was once an important staple food for fishermans, and wanderers as well. It was taken along with sagu and umai. Kampung Belawai is the heart of the smoked prawn (Sesar Unjur) processing industry.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 26, 2015 at 6:06pm

Local call them smoked shrimps. It actually like dried shrimps but come in whole and bigger in size. The local have them as snack. Just wash it and they are good to pop inside your mouth! It tastes sweet with the fragrant of dried shrimps. The texture is harder with some crunch compare with ordinary dried shrimps. It quite nice!

(Photo Credit)

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