September 7, 2016

Sarawakian Local Delights : The Iban Woman Oil Palm Smallholder



this is my Iban friend's mother, Indai Patrick. She has inherited a plot of land from her grandmother in Niah and has been cultivating oil palms for more than 5 years. Her husband is a Chinese civil servant from Kuching. Both have been working hard in the small holding at their spare time.

today, the family is enjoying the fruits of their labour.

A staunch Roman Catholic, she makes sure that her children and grand children come together to say their prayers and attend MASS whenever they can. One day they will get their own vehicle. At the moment she is strong enough to carry all these to a small Ford f-wheel, which she pays 50 ringgit per load.

"In the past she and her parents depended on padi, rubber and jungle products. Today, oil palm is No.1 Cash Crop," she told me.

May God bless you and your honest labour!!

September 6, 2016

Sarawakian Local Delights :Duck Rearing in the Rajang Valley



Ducks were actually brought over from China by the early Chinese migrants (Need more research here).

Since 1901, ducks have been reared by the Foochows along the Rajang Valley.

Today as more and more Foochows have moved to the towns of Sarawak and even to other parts of the world. duck rearing has been a domain of the Ibans, Malays and other races.

In one farm, an Iban woman said that she is "the half way house". She shares her duck rearing business with a foochow towkay and after the ducks are matured, they are sold to restaurants  in Sibu.
Business is good and often she and her partner do not have enough ducks to sell.

All her ducks have to be very mature, otherwise the small feathers ( which the Foochows call, under feathers) cannot be easily "plucked". That is to say, dressing the duck becomes extremely difficult.

The skin of the duck is an essential part which makes the duck soup awesome according to our Foochow elders.

September 3, 2016

Sarawakian Local Delights : Dagu or the Jowl







When one visits the long house for a gawai or a celebration a pig or two might be slaughtered for the feasting and to welcome visitors. It can be for a wedding or the welcoming of a new politician.

Now one hidden secret of pork connoisseur is the jowl, or the lower jaw flesh of the pork face or head. The Ibans in the longhouses would give the pig head to the team which slaughters the pig and a bbq would already be set up by the river side after the pig has been slaughtered. The river bank, especially if there is a pebble beach is an ideal place for slaughtering of animals, as the river water would conveniently wash away all the unwanted parts and clean the meat.

the jowl is similar to belly pork and once it is well marinated with salt and pepper for more than `12 hours, it can be roasted either in the oven (250 degrees) or over the slow embers of an open fire.

It is very delicious when sliced thinly and served with rice and other jungle vegetables.

The Foochows love the dagu also and usually have it braised in soy sauce, or what other dialectic groups call, Pak Lo, with lots of garlic and 5 spices. In the 1950's and 60's the wharf labourers of Sibu often enjoyed having a cheap meal of slices of jowl with their white rice and lots of soy sauce. In the evenings when all the wharf labourers had gone home, the hawker selling the economy rice would "lelong" the left over meats to people who like to buy the cold slices. A family would have a good meal with only 3 dollars worth of dagu, all chopped up by the sharp cleaver of the vendor.

Today in most western countries' supermarkets the dagu or the jowl is sold in the fresh meat department or in the bacon section.

September 1, 2016

Sarawakian Local Delights : Unripe Durian Flesh as Vegetable



God has given us lots of fruits.

but sometimes fruits cannot stay on the trees until they are ripen. They drop either naturally and are called "nature's reject" by the local Ibans, or "aborted fruits" by others. They can also be brought down by wind when a mature fruit drops on an unripe fruit and brings it down to the ground.

these unripe fruits must not be discarded because they can be cooked as a vegetable.

When visiting longhouses, one can be very surprised that the evening meal consists of a soup made of unripe durians, ikan bilis and onions.

The unripe durians  have the texture of potatoes. And it is a delightful, sweetish taste. There is no durian taste at all.

God has given us his bounty. We should not waste his blessings!!