July 22, 2017

Sarawakian Local Delights : Nipah Palm shoots

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Upa Apong or Nipah palm shoots are eaten mainly by the people who live in the coastal areas of Sarawak like Mukah, Dalat, Bintulu. In Miri it has not been that easy to buy some upong apong.

The upa apong is a tender palm heart that makes a good vegetable dish. It can be cooked on its own with asam pedas, or as a soup with chicken or seafood.

A palm taken down before it is too old usually yields quite a bit of palm shoots. Probably a palm that is 30 feet tall can feed one village for a day or two.

This palm (nypa fruticans)produces a diversity of minor products.

In Sarawak the leaves are used extensively for roof thatching (atap) and mat making. 

Many people continue to enjoy home made cigarettes called rokok apong. The unfolded leaf sheaths are made into cigarette wrappers (rokok daun) which are cheaper than paper wrappers. 

The production of nipah sugar (gula apong) from the inflorescence and infructescence sap is still an important traditional activity for communities living in the vicinity. Most of the traditional cakes and the sugar produced is consumed locally. 

Nipah sugar is also used to produce alcohol for the local market although the production has declined in recent year.

One of the most popular drinks in Sarawak towns is called Three Coloured Tea. The brown layer of the tea is actually gula apong.

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