Saturday, August 2, 2008

Native market in Borneo - food from the jungle

Long before "Organic Food" becomes a fashionable term, all foods are organic.
At colourful native market in Sarawak, I saw some food stands selling this little rice cake - coming in white and black sticky rice variety, with a few peanuts and sometimes with a sliver of pandan leave. Guess what is used to make that neat little leafy container ?
The answer: Nepenthes ampullaria pitchers - some of them growing to fist size! I suppose this plant must be very common here - maybe even weedy, since quite a few stalls sell this type of cake. It tasted much like any other leaf-wrapped sticky rice with a sweetish little whiff of pandan- the Nepenthes did not impart any special flavours to it, its just a convenient container.
I hope they cleaned it well though, I had seen a lot of unmentionables at the bottom of the pitchers in the wild ....
Another unusual vegetable is the wild collected young growing tips of bracken fern or "midin" as it is called locally. The fern is stir-fried with garlic or belachan (my favourite), a pungent shrimp paste here and has a very crunchy texture. However, it has been linked to occurence of cancer in digestive tract and spores are proven carcinogenic for mice.
I hope the`claim will be proven a myth soon .... meanwhile I shall have my poison in moderation.
and here's some wild mushroom.
The roots of the famed Tongkat Ali Eurycoma longifolia are on sale here too. All the phyto-chemicals that give this plant its famed properties are concentrated deep in the tap root....this magic stick will give yours a new lease of life....previous post


Titania said...

Hortlog I have missed your interesting observations.Good to see your posts back. It is interesting how still natural containers are used for food. I guess one has to get used to it! Bracken is supposed to be poisonous for cattle.(I lived on a grazing property with bushland attached.) The poor mice and rats are fed so much of bracken no wonder they get cancer. I wonder how accurate those findings are! I wonder about all the other poisonous additives that are added today to food how much they add to cancer and other diseases. It is always the natural products that are knocked!

Hon E said...

Nepenthes supposed to be CITES plants leh, why so cheap there ???

Hort Log said...

Hi Titania,

thanks for your kind words.
I know the Japanese have been eating bracken for ages and yet they generally have very long lives....this is not scientific statement of course but perhaps there are different types of bracken...some bracken are more toxic than others.

Hon E,

yes its weird that all Nepenthes are considered endangered ...same thought as the bracken really, some Nepenthes are more rare than others....

Hermes said...

I love finding fresh food on the markets - though we have nothing like these. You are lucky. They look delicious.

Anonymous said...


i saw your midin photo and was impressed. i am writing an aRticle on sarawak. can i use your midin photo?


p.s.: pls email

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