July 11, 2009

How to fill the bamboo to make lemang

Early in the morning around six my brother in law would take his parang and basket out for bamboo cutting. By seven he would have cut some bamboo canisters. one whole bamboo could make about ten or fifteen cuttings or canisters. The small species make good canisters for lemang. The bigger and fatter species are usually used for cooking meat and vegetables. Pansur (cooking in bamboo) today has become quite a culinary art.

South western and South Eastern China and Taiwan and several other Pacific Islands also have the pansur culture.

This is my sister-in-law's longhouse fire pit for her lemang making. A metal sheet at a 70 degree recline with riverine rocks as base. Whenever she makes lemang she will cut a young banan stem to form the base for her bamboo canisters. A young banana stem does not burn easily so it would prevent the bamboo canisters from catching fire. The metal sheet will also stabilize the heat and thus the lemang (rice) cooks evenly.

Always fill half of the bamboo canister with coconut milk and then add glutinous rice. When the coconut milk reaches the top like this the bamboo canister is properly filled and the lemang which comes out later will be of perfect texture. If you like your lemang harder you can add just a little more rice. This is the petua from old people and I never find a badly prepared lemang using measurement like this.

Pandan leaves act as stoppers and give the lemang a great fragrance.

You have the turn the bamboo every now and then. When the bamboo stops spitting water out and the pandan has wilted the lemang is ready. The fire should be well tended.

So cooking lemang in the backyard is truly an art and a test of your patience and skill. Each grain of lemang is actually a "fruit of love" because so much work is put into it.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the great tip....now I am ready to make my own lemang.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Nice of you to write. Lemang can be very pricey if you have to buy it from the stalls on Friday and Saturday. But if you make it yourself it would be more economical.
With bad economic conditions at the moment we need to stay home and eat more often. Better for family bonding too....God bless.

Greenspot said...


Nice post on lemang. Do you have any idea what type of bamboo is good for the purpose or any large bamboo will do. If possible, any
local names for the bamboo used.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah - I have been asked that question many times and especially my son....I will have to photograph the suitable ones for you as I cannot identify/name all the different types of bamboos...

First and foremost each section must be the longer type.

Anonymous said...

Aaaahhh ...! The beautiful pictures remind me of the lemang I had many, many years ago. I knew they were cooked in bamboo, but did not know how. Now I know. Thanks

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Adiya Kiratas

Have you started your blog?

Sometimes indigenous knowledge can be so wonderful to add to our humble learning.

Hope to hear from you from time to time.

thanks for visiting.

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