January 4, 2016

Sarawakian Local Delights No.5 : Old Chicken and White Gourd Soup

The Ibans in Sarawak are subsistence farmers since time immemorial. Today if they have a plot of land available for such use in the urban area, they can plant enough vegetables for their daily needs.

However in the past, they would have a main crop for cash e.g. pepper, rubber and today they have lots of oil palm. In their sub plot they would grow vegetables, pineapples etc depending on the size.

If they have only enough land for vegetables, their best crops would be pumpkin, long beans, yams, and leafy vegetables which are easy to take take of.

Gourds and winter melons are also very easily cared for.

At one longhouse, not very far from a town, which we visited we were served a lovely soup made from white gourd and old chicken. With pepper and a bit of chillies, the soup was very delicious.

The chicken was first cleaned and "burnt" or tunu, to give the skin a scorched look and a special fragrance. This release of oil from the skin gives a special "taste" to the soup. This is also a good way to ensure that the chicken is "clean" according to an Iban friend who loves to prepare his own chicken this way.

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