The Iban tribes are from Sarawak, Borneo. Their traditional foods are called Pansuh food, which simply means the cooking of food or dish in a bamboo stem. It’s naturally clean, easy and simple. The food (meat, chicken, fish, vegetables and even rice together with the spices) will all be put together into the bamboo stem, then directly placed over an open fire to be cooked. The uniqueness of using the bamboo stem to cook is that the bamboo will give a special aroma and texture to the food where it’s impossible to have using other methods such as using woks.
Since they settled in the Malaysian state of Sarawak over 400 years ago, the Iban have made the surrounding rainforest their supermarket and hardware store, tapping the tremendous variety of plants, animals and raw materials for their food, medicines, dwellings and rituals.
One of the best known Iban dishes is pansoh manok (ayam pansuh), which features chicken and other ingredients cooked in a bamboo log over an open fire.
“Lemang” is glutinous rice that is cooked with coconut milk in hollowed bamboos lined with banana leaves. The pandan leaves are usually added into the bamboo along with the banana leaves to add fragrance to the rice.
Not only the Ibans, the Bidayuhs also have their own traditional cuisines. The Bidayuhs plant and harvest their own rice, but they also rely on their traditional methods of food preparation to store food, especially meat. Tourists will be served with a particular type of fermented pork called ‘Kersem’ during their dinner at the Bidayuh’s village.
“The Bidayuh’s famous cuisine-Kersem. It can be kept for months.”
“The urn used to cook the Kersem”