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 April 26, 2015 at 5:56pm

Sarawak Umai

Umai is a traditional native dish for the Melanau people especially for the fishermen in the states of Sarawak.It is basically a dish consists of sliced raw fish with mixture of onion, chillies, salt and lime juice.Slice the fish thinly. Toss with the lime juice and leave to marinate for no more than 5 minutes - any longer and the fish will start to ‘cook’ in the acid. Gently ‘squeeze’ out the juice and then add the other ingredients. Serve immediately.

Umai is Melanau's staple food and thanks to my mum's heritage of Melanau,I have been introduced to this dish since I was a kid. Never a single second that I would never eat this, it's always my mum's winning dish. It's a basically a dish of fresh slices of raw fish/jellyfish which is mix together with many flavourful ingredients like onion, red chillies, lime juice, salt, sugar, pounded shallot and ginger flower (bunga kantan). To some, it may look like a cold salad and it is best served as appetiser.

Photo/Text Credit

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 26, 2015 at 5:45pm

Sarawak Isau

The picture below show buah Mata kucing which is very unique because longan fruits are mostly cultivated in China ,Thailand and other parts of Asia.There are locals who are not aware of the existence of our wild longans and to them,this wild longan is just another type of small longan imported from China or Thailand. One of the variety called ‘Isau’ should be ranked as top quality fruit found in Asia.

Buah Isau (which many mistaken as Longan). Buah Isau has thin, brittle shells covered in small bumps. The translucent flesh & single round seed looks exactly like longan, except the flesh is thinner. They are sweet and juicy.

Its botanical name is Dimocarpus longan Lour.

Basically there are four varieties namely’ isau’, ‘sau ‘, ‘kakus’ and ‘guring’.

The ‘Guring’ is the only smooth  and brown skinned longan.The other three longans have rough pebbly skin.All of them are about the same size,with 2 cm in diameter.All of them taste sweet and juicy with a distinct aroma.

The ‘Isau’ has green skin even when it is ripe and is known to be the best among the four varieties.It has thick and juicy  flesh with small seed.

The ‘Kakus’ has brown skin and has biggest fruit among four of them but its flesh is thin and the seed is big.

The ‘Sau’ is a mixture of Isau and Kakus.

Kakus is more common than the other three.Wild longan is seasonal and not easily found in market.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 24, 2015 at 6:05pm

Durian Nyekak

Nyekak trees are mainly found growing wild in mixed dipterocarp forest in Central and Nothern Sarawak. They are also cultivated in these regions. The tree is small to medium in size with low branching habit growing to a height of 12 - 20 m.

The flower clusters are bright crimson in colour.

Fruit is generally round or avoid, covered with short and blunt spines. Fruits are mostly small ranging from about 200 g to slightly over 1000 g. They are light green when immature, ripening to a golden yellow colour. The aril colour ranges from light yellow to deep orange. Aril quality is variable and selected clones have sweet taste with fragrance, soft, very fine and smooth texture.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 24, 2015 at 3:52pm

Beras Bario

Bario rice is a local product cultivated by hand with no pesticides or herbicides and represents a valuable ecological niche. The Kelabit tribe, who live solely in the highlands, grow the Presidium rice. The majority of Malaysians are unaware of the difference that exists between real Bario rice and cheaper, lesser quality rice that uses the same name.

The Presidium has been developed to assist local growers by promoting the product on the Malaysian market through information campaigns, dinners and predominantly local events.

The Bario Rice has now been registered as product of Geographical Indication (GI) with the Malaysian Intellectual Property Organization (MyIPO).

Bario Rice (padi adan) originated in the Kelabit Highlands, also known as Bareo, in northeast Sarawak, Malaysia. Located at an altitude of 1,100 meters, temperatures during the day remain cool, ranging from 19-22 degrees Celsius, which is unusual for growing rice.

The local Kelabit tribe is one of the smallest ethnic groups in Sarawak, numbering less than 5,000, and has its own language. Like many other indigenous communities some of the Kelabits live in longhouses but many live in stand alone houses as well. They grow some vegetables, for example cabbages, and also gather fresh meat and vegetables from the jungle. In Sarawak each family cultivates one-to-two hectares of rice by hand, much of it for their own consumption. The fields are sown in July and the rice harvested in January.

Bario Rice takes about six months to mature and only one crop can be planted per year. The Kelabit tribe has brought water to even the most remote fields through an intricate system of bamboo pipes. During the fallow period the buffalo live in the fields where they eat the weeds and fertilize the soil. The buffaloes are also used to plough the fields and transport goods.

Malaysian farmers celebrate the sowing and the transplanting of rice plants with holy ceremonies. These include celebrations for the preparation of the soil, where the villagers gather together and sing.

Bario Rice is a medium grain rice, marble white in color. This variety is famous for its excellent sweet taste and slightly sticky texture, and is a favorite among Malaysian chefs that use it to prepare traditional recipes. Bario rice is not suitable for making risotto and salads, but it is the ideal ingredient for puddings and sweet cakes.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 24, 2015 at 3:49pm

Beras Biris (Biris Rice)

Indigenous/Tribal community: Iban, Malay:Beras biris or padi biris is a variety that originates from the rice farms of Simunjan in the Kota Samarahan Division of Sarawak, in northern Borneo. It is a fragrant, traditional rice variety also known as beras wangi Simunjan because of its strong aroma. The rice farms in Simunjan mainly depend on rainwater for cultivation, 

as irrigation facilities are not available. Farmers do not use much chemical fertilizer, as beras biris is a traditional tall variety that is not very responsive to chemical fertilizer. Traditional tall varieties are inherently more efficient in extracting soil nutrients for growth.

The beras biris plant is tall, measuring about 160 cm and has an erect plant type. The stems are thick and strong. The panicle is long measuring between 30-31 cm. This variety matures in 163-167 days from seed to harvest. Some farmers age their paddy for about 6-10 months before milling. The process of aging improves the milling quality of the rice and also changes the chemical properties of the starch. The milled rice of this preferred variety is translucent and glossy.

Beras biris is prized as a specialty rice that is served at special festivals. It has been accorded a Geographical Indication status for its distinctive taste and reputation as a local variety. It is estimated that about 50 tons are are grown annually. Many farmers grow the varitety mainly for personal use, but sell the excess on the local market, where it can be found in small quantities. Beras biris or padi biris is grown by smallholder farmers and the entire process is done manually. Majority of these rice farmers are elderly, and they if the younger generations are not interested in rice farming this variety may disappear.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 24, 2015 at 11:49am

Beras Bajong (Bajong Rice)

Indigenous/Tribal community: Iban. Padi bajong or beras bajong is a fragrant, colorful rice variety that originates from the traditional paddy fields of Lubok Nibong in the Betong Division of Sarawak, in northwestern Borneo. In Lubok Nibong, farmers mainly depend on rainwater for their cultivation, as infrastructure for irrigation is not available. Farmers generally do not apply chemical fertilizers to this variety, as beras bajong is a traditional tall variety that is inherently more efficient and has the ability to tap soil nutrients for growth. The rice plant is tall, measuring about 140-145 cm and has an erect plant type. It grows well in both upland and rain-fed conditions. The stems are strong and thick and do not bend or break easily.

Farmers transplant the seedlings by hand and the crop matures 130 days after transplanting. The panicle is long, measuring between 32-34 cm. The grains of beras bajong has a colourful pericarp (outer seed coat) which leaves an intense purple color on the endosperm (starchy part) when milled. It is sold as semi-polished rice and it cooks to a soft and tender texture. Beras bajong is special because it possesses all the attributes of traditionally grown, naturally farmed rice with great color, aroma and texture.

This variety is prized as a specialty rice, served at special occasions and festivals. Beras bajong has been awarded a Geographical Indication status for its distinctive qualities as a local rice variety. It is estimated that about 200 tons are grown annually, sold at community markets. Its price generally fluctuates with the seasons. Many growers also cultivate this rice mainly for personal use, but sell their surplus. Beras or padi bajong is grown by smallholder farmers, and the entire cultivation and harvesting processes are done manually. Many of these rice farmers are elderly, and if the younger generations are not interested continuing rice farming this variety may disappear.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 24, 2015 at 11:25am

Terung Dayak

I am always facinated by brinjals,especially brinjals grown in Borneo.They come in different sizes,shapes,colors and tastes.

One of these brinjals that stand out as an indigenous plant to Borneo is called Terung Dayak , Terung Asam or Terung hutan in Malay. It is also a GI (geographical indication) plant of Sarawak meaning it is very popular and widely grown in Sarawak.It tastes pleasantly sour and therefore named Terung Asam which means sour eggplant.Its botanical name is Solanum ferox L.Since it is very similar to Terung Bulu,it is actually botanically regarded as a variant of the hairy eggplant which is more common in West Malaysia and other parts of the world.In chinese is 野生茄.

Terung Dayak flowers are white and immature fruits are green in color.The mature fruits can be yellow ,orange,reddish orange,dark purple to black depending on varieties.

They can be propagated by seeds.They seem to thrive in rural area and those grown in cities do not yield much fruits.The stems are thorny.Most Sarawakians cook it with seafood. Here in this post we have two recipes to share.

Before sharing recipes,lets look at various types of brinjals found in Sarawak.In this post,I will omit the long purple brinjals normally seen in the markets.Only the more unusual ones are shown here.

The picture below shows a kind of brinjals called Mini Brinjal. Look cute,aren’t they ? Perfect choice for topping pizza. They can be cooked in dal. They are about the size of a ping pong ball with white and purple color.It has thin skin and tiny seeds.

Those shown in the picture below are the egg-shaped eggplants which comes in three colours,namely light green,white and purple.These fleshy eggplants are ideal for pan-fried,steamed or grilled dishes.Cooking them in Chinese way i.e slice thinly and boil with some water,add some oil,stir-fry with chillies and dou shi(fermented black beans).Finally add thick soya source and thai basil.In Chinese is 胆囊茄 which means gall bladder eggplant.

Another eggplant is the Terung India which simply means it is originated from India.These are usually cooked in dal or curry.The skin is quite thick and the flesh takes time to cook.As the name implies,this eggplant is very popular among the Indians and is more commonly found in West Malaysia.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 24, 2015 at 11:24am

The picture below shows another variant of Terung bulu.It is actually terung dayak but has dark purple,almost black skin on ripening.This black colour may be is due to the fruits being plucked while they are still green and on keeping them for too long,turn dark purple. Nevertheless,the venders insist that this is a different type of terung dayak.It tastes less sour and slightly bitter.

The eggplants shown below are not so commonly found in the markets here.The one on the left is Terung Jepun which means its origin is from Japan.What is special about this eggplant is its sepals and leaves are edible as well.

The one on the left are Terung Java which are small finger- sized eggplants with variegated green and white stripes.It is about 10 cm long and 1.5cm-2 cm wide.Steam and dip in chili source.The skin is not tough and get cooked easily.

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 23, 2015 at 10:23pm

Terung Assam Sarawak (Sarawak Sour Eggplant)

Sarawak sour eggplant locally known as ‘terung Iban’ or ‘terung assam’ and ‘dabai’ have been included among the state’s eight products registered as intellectual property under Geographical Indication (GI) by the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO).

The corporation chairman Datuk Abdul Manan Ismail officiating at Intellectual Property Awareness Seminar held here said the vegetable and edible olive-shaped fruit indigenous to Sarawak joined Bario Rice and two other local rice species, pepper and a herb in having their rights protected by the corporation.

“We commend the effort made by the state government to have the rights of these products protected and made exclusive Sarawak products through the Agriculture Department Sarawak,” said Abdul Manan.

Also protected of its right under Geographical Indication is the famous ‘Kek Lapis Sarawak’ (Sarawak Layered Cake), Abdul Manan disclosed further.

“It is important for the products to have its pattern and rights protected. There a lot of products which are unique, special and available in the state. However, producers especially small and minor enterprises (SME) should have them registered with Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia as soon as possible to protect their rights and pattern,” he added.

In this context, he proposed that initiative be made to have ‘highland salt’ from Bario and Ba’Kelalan including apple from Ba’Kelalan registered as intellectual property under Geographical Indication.

Earlier, Abdul Manan revealed increased awareness among small and minor enterprise entrepreneurs of the importance of protecting the rights or pattern of their services and products through the corporation.

“As of October this year, there have been 404 applications or submissions made by entrepreneurs and individuals from Sarawak. This is an increase of 34 percent from 301 submissions or applications received in the same period in 2011,” he added. (Photo Credit: My Sarawak)

Comment by 邊鄉 岸 on April 23, 2015 at 10:13pm

Ikan Terubuk Sarawak Mulut Besar Sarawak

Studies show Sarawak terubuk changes gender as it matures.

Scientific studies show that the male of the Terubuk or big-mouthed shad, also known as Tenualosa toli, can evolve into a female when it reaches maturity, said Sarawak Agriculture Department director Datuk Lai Kui Fong.

He said the fish had been registered as geographical indication (GI) by the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO).

The GI certificate for the big-mouthed Tenualosa toli was presented to the Sarawak Information Technology and Resources Council on May 12 this year.

This endemic species, as revealed by scientific studies, is protandous hermaphrodite, which means the male can evolve into a female when it reaches maturity, said Lai.

He said the delicious and sweet-tasting fish could only be found in the coastal waters of Sarawak, stretching from Sematan to Lawas.

“The breeding grounds are at the estuary of Batang Lupar, Sri Aman, and Batang Lassa, Mukah, with two breeding seasons per year,” he said.

He said the big-mouthed shad could easily be distinguished from other species such as the sea water tenualosa macrura which is small-mouthed, has smooth scales, an elongated body and a long tail.

According to Lai, besides the big-mouthed Sarawak tenualosa toli, the Bario rice, Bilis Sarawak rice, Sarawak Bajong rice, Sarawak sour eggplant, ‘dabai’ Sarawak, Isau Sarawak (green longan) and Sarawak Nyekak durian also obtained the GI certificate.

In addition, three more Sarawak products, namely the ‘midin’ vegetable and two varieties of local traditional rice, are awaiting the GI certification from MyIPO, he said. -Bernama

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