THERE is something about Sarawak dishes that is so unique and interesting. To some, Sarawak cuisine is an acquired taste but those familiar with the dishes will make it a point to look for it.
And the best time is during the Sarawak Food Promotions at the Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur this month.
The person who will be whipping out the best of Sarawak cuisine is Chef Norhayati Parjan.
This bubbly chef is an expert in preparing the dishes after learning the traits from a Sarawakian chef.
For her, a certain skill is needed to prepare authentic Sarawak dishes. Even though, she is Javanese, her experience and knowledge on the cuisine is almost like a Sarawakian. In fact, she has picked the dialect and speaks like a native.
“Mee Kolok is on of the favourite noodle dishes of many locals. The gravy is usually made of peanut oil and is flavoured with garlic or shallots. You can either have it with minced beef or without it depending on your preference,” said Norhayati who is also an expert in preparing Malay traditional dishes.
Norhayati said, Sarawak cuisine uses a lot of fresh seafood, vegetables and spices like black pepper.
“Most of the dishes are inspired by these three main ingredients while the different tribes in the state influence the cooking styles,” said Norhayati who spent more than three years perfecting the art of cooking Sarawak dishes.
According to her, this time around the Sarawak Food Promotions will include a wide range of tasty Ikan Masin, Midin, Laksa Sarawak, Acar Sarawak, Popiah Basah, Jelatah Telur Rebus, Telur Dadar, Seafood Umai with Citrus Sauce, Sup Ikan Merah and a variety of desserts like the Tebaloi (crispy sago biscuits) and the colourful Kek Lapis Sarawak.
The spread will also include at least 20 dishes such as the popular Umai (raw fish salad) which is a staple food for the Melanaus especially the fishermen. “Umai is almost like an appetiser. It is usually prepared using fresh raw fish like mackerel, bawal hitam and umpiring.
“But I’m going to use fresh prawns, thinly sliced onions, chillies, salt and lime juice. Umai is usually eaten with a bowl of toasted sago pearls instead of rice,” said Norhayati who spent 17 years as a cook in the hotel.
Sample Norhayati’s Laksa Sarawak and Sup Ikan Merah which is said to be delicious and addictive. Apparently, many regulars have been coming back for more.
The Sarawak Food Promotions at the Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur will be on for two weeks, from June 14 – 30. Buffet lunch is at RM75++ per person while the buffet dinner is RM88++ per person. Children aged four to 12 years-old dine at 50%.