July 1, 2014

Sarawakian Local Delights : Tepus

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 (Etlingera Coccinea)

One of the great secrets of good Iban longhouse cooking lies in the addition of a special ingredient - tepus.

Tapioca leaves become a specialty dish when tepus is added to it. Fish steamed with tepus has a special aroma and taste.
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Another special tepus dish is to stir fry terong pipit or the tiny bird brinjals/egg plants, with tepus and perhaps some wild mushrooms.

Tepus also goes well with belacan, chillies and dried fish. Another great dish with tepus is to fry green chillies with ikan bilis and this fantastic shoot.

In Sabah, one can buy 'pickled' tepus which is known as Tuhau. The tepus is chopped, mixed with chilli and left to cure in vinegar or lime juice.

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You can add Tuhau to any salad and it will have a Sabahan flavour or even East Malaysian Flavour!!

You can also try to combine a good salad of buah kedundong slices, pomelo, cucumber, tepus, kedundong leaves, lettuce and lots of lemon juice. Top the salad with thin slices of deep fried  salted tenggiri. Or let your imagination run wild and you might be rewarded with a very delectable new dish you can create with tepus.

(In ancient days tepus was used as a perfume by Iban brides.)

At home if I get some tepus shoots I can always add them to my Chinese vinegared chillies ( like those prepared in West Malaysia for Wan Tan Mien). However you might think that it is an acquired taste...well if you like Wasabi, you might like tepus.


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