Southeast Asia is undisputed foodie heaven. Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam usually reap the lion’s share of praise when it comes to the culinary scene, but for anyone searching out new flavors, Borneo delivers. Just as Borneo boasts truly wild and exotic landscapes, its various cuisines, too, give us something out of the ordinary. Here are some dishes we feel warrant particular attention.
Labo Belatuh. Travel into the Borneo highlands to the domain of the indigenous Kelabit people and you’ll find this popular meat dish. The smallest ethnic minority in Sarawak, the Kelabit are nonetheless famous for their cuisine, which includes the delicious barrio rice. Labo Belatuh is basically a smoked meat dish – boar, venison and duck are just some of the gamey proteins used. You’ll find restaurants peppered throughout Kuching advertising Kelabit highlands food if you don’t make the mountain trek.
Paku fern. This veggie dish hails from the Kinabatangan area. Paku – the fiddlehead fern – carpets the river terrain here, so it’s not surprising that it makes its way into the local cuisine. Sauteed with garlic and fish sauce, it’s full of crunch and flavor – and also high in antioxidants.
Tuhau. From the Sabah region of Borneo, this traditional sambal harnesses the flavor of porcelain ginger, in an appetizing blend of chili, vinegar, salt, sugar and spring onion. Understandably, it’s an aromatic (some say pungent) dish, but is quite flexible, and can be mixed in with a variety of different dishes to add a flavor punch.
Hinava tongii. A traditional native dish of the Kadazan people of Sabah (with iterations also found within the Melanau culinary culture), this tasty salad comprises raw mackerel marinated in citrus. It’s a delicious dish, flavored with fresh lime, chili, garlic and shallots and served with rice or bread. Umai is a similar dish with the mackerel substituted with river prawn.
If you’d like to go on a Borneo food adventure and taste these delicious regional dishes in person, contact one of our travel specialists today.