I can’t believe it’s been 9 months since we left Sarawak to return to the States! While we are settling in to our new home, we still keep in touch with our old friends from Kuching, through Facebook, email and WhatsApp. They’re always sending pictures of the yummy Sarawakian food that they’re eating, like Sarawak laksa and kampua mee. The good thing about dishes like these, though, is that we can make them at home, as the ingredients are not impossible to get.
One thing we cannot get, though, is dabai. Dabai, also known as “Sibu olive” (though it is not a true olive but a completely different species, Canarium odontophyllum), is grown only in Sarawak, generally in the central part of Sarawak around the town of Sibu. Over the years that we lived in Sarawak, we grew to love eating dabai. It’s one of the foods I really miss.
Fresh Dabai, “Sibu Olive”
I love Indian food and mamak food in particular. We often go to one particular place in Kuching almost weekly for roti and thosai. The thosai comes with dipping sauces of dhal and coconut chutney but we like the fish curry sauce the best.
One day I got some pieces of fish to go along with the curry. It was delicious! But then we got the bill and it turned out that the fish pieces were 5 ringgit each! Being the pake person that I am, I decided that I should learn to cook fish curry for myself because then I could buy a whole fish for 20 ringgit and save some money.
Armed with just my instincts and the flavor profile that I got from having this fish curry over several visits I decided to try to recreate it.
Indian Fish Curry
A eye-opening dish that Sarawakians are crazy for.
Sarawak is a wondrous place that is distinctly different from the other states in the Malaysian Federation. Their history is different (they gained independence from the British in July 1963 whereas Malaya or Peninsular Malaysia became independent in August 1957). Sarawakian culture is different (the ethnic mix is balanced between native Ibans, Malays, Bidayuh and other tribes plus Chinese while Malaya is majority Malay with Chinese and Indians making up the rest). And, Sarawakian food is different as well.
This delicious baked bun is even easier to prepare than our homemade baked char siew bao recipe, and possibly healthier as well.
Homemade Baked Sardine Buns