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Bario Rice

Saturday, April 24, 2010

There is one thing that I always think about when I think of Sarawak besides my experience of eating Sago worms, their indigenous rice, Bario rice. I lugged 25kg of this back to the West during my last trip in 2000.

Bario is an area is located in the centre of the Kelabit Highlands in the north east of Sarawak, East Malaysia, very close to the international border with Indonesian Kalimantan, and 3280 feet above sea level. It is the main settlement in the Kelabit Highlands. With an average temperature of 20C, they can plant crops different than of the lowlands where temperature are more than 32C-39C during the day time. Even their rice is different. It can only be found and planted here.

The rice is not cheap. It is airflown from the highlands to the lowlands. Bario is only accesible by air, unless you want to trek for days. And having sacks of rice with you while jungle trekking is no joke. It is cheaper to buy at Niah, Miri (not the cave, it's the name of the vilage where the cave is located, so ,the huge cave was named Niah cave. Even if it's cheaper at Niah, it's still cost 50% more than regular Thai fragrant rice. In Kuching, it's almost double. In the West, it's triple. If I didn't remember wrongly, there used to be 1.8kg packs sold in Major supermarkets at about RM20. I don't see them around now, maybe it's too expensive. If not I'll take a picture for you to see. So far I've only heard of one friend consuming this rice (West Msia $), CTZM, if you reading this, I'm talking about you.  :)
 (Prices are of year 2000)

Ok, back to why I took all the trouble to bring so much of this rice back... it's the best rice ever.
Really, seriously!!! Provided you cook it correctly. 1 cup rice, washed, drained properly and cooked with 1 cup water.

Small, smaller than a regular rice grain by half
White, when raw, looks white like glutinous rice. It doesn't look opaque like regular rice grains.
Soft and fluffy, like good quality Thai fragrant rice, but actually even better
Slightly bouncy, really, when you chew it, u can feel its bounciness
Sticky but not sticky, Like Stick-it Notes. The rice clumps together enough for you to pick it up with chopsticks, but easily separated... It's not like Thai fragrant rice when it's sticky, it's easily mushy. This is not. Bario rice is firm, soft with a nice stick. In my own opinion, even Calrose (Jap short grain) is not as good as this.
And if you can't finish the rice, and keep in the the fridge. When you reheat the rice later, the grains will fall apart like Basmathi.

I don't know how to describe this any further. Rice lovers will easily find this to be so so nice with the first mouthful.

It's not only found as white grains, but red or black grains too. All in the same small size.
So, if any of you are going to Sarawak, especially around Miri area, don't forget to buy some of this back, provided it's not prohibited by the law of your country to bring in rice. Any of you who wants to visit me from Sarawak, this will be the best thing to bring for me. I'll pay you back, don't worry. 10kg, all sapu* !!!
*sapu is a Malay word that means sweep or cleared, and in this scenario, it means cleared and taken

This rice is given by my cousin's wife, Jasmine.
She brought it back from Marudi, Sarawak during her last trip back to her hometown.

Love ya, Jasmine. Please bring me more :)

24 lovely notes:

Shirley @ Kokken69 April 24, 2010 at 5:58 PM  

This looks similar to the Japanese short grain rice...

Angie's Recipes April 24, 2010 at 6:38 PM  

Really love to try these..look like pearls.

oilai April 24, 2010 at 11:42 PM  

then i must buy 1kg to taste,Puchong got 1 rice shop selling bario rice.is not cheap.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 24, 2010 at 11:56 PM  

Err... Jap calrose is fatter, this is like a regular rice, half the length, half the width.
If you saw Ponni Rice before (In Spore,it's sold under Golden Pineapple brand) it looks like that, but cooking method very different. Ponni rice needs triple amount of water, but this requires only the same amount.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 24, 2010 at 11:58 PM  

I'm afraid you have to travel here to taste them.
It's illegal to bring in or out rice here.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 25, 2010 at 12:00 AM  

Is it? Wow, tell me where and how much, ok.
If it's selling at RM7/kg I'm going to sapu at least few kgs back.
Just remember to cook it with little bit of water only, even lesser than quality fragrant rice.

HomeKreation April 25, 2010 at 12:25 AM  

Only Liana is enjoying bario rice. My other two kids do not like it so save my money...haha. It cost RM10/kg. I like to cook nasi lemak with it and no one resist that when I did.

Kitchen Corner April 25, 2010 at 8:58 AM  

This Bario rice looks very tasty! I've not try it before. It looks like Japanese rice.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 25, 2010 at 2:42 PM  

Liana is such a lucky girl. Many east msians loves using Bario to prepare baby food, due to the soft texture. When my cousin's wife gave me my lastest Bario rice, she said it's for Lyanne's porrdige, but hahaha, I cooked it for us adults instead. Too sayang la. But Lyanne did eat some as well.
10kg/kg, yeah should be about that.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 25, 2010 at 2:44 PM  

Kitchen Corner,
Hahaha, no.. it doesn't look like Jap rice at all. Jap rice is fat but this one is slim. When cooked, it's half the size of jap rice.
Taste wise this is bouncier than jap rice.

My Little Space April 25, 2010 at 7:31 PM  

I'm not sure if I've tried this before! My hubby's older brother shifted to Sarawak a few years ago(under Felda,they're all anak peneroka) and he brought home rice when came back visiting every time. The rice was so delicious! They said it's very expensive.
Have a great weekend!
Cheers, Kristy

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 25, 2010 at 11:17 PM  

If it's expensive, fat chances it's Bario.
It's very small in size right??
Lucky you, if not you'll be paying RM10/kg for that over here.

Anonymous,  August 17, 2010 at 3:57 PM  

if you really love it.now you can get it from MJ SUNRISE SDN BHD,they are selling organic vege and fruits from their own farm in KKB,and is certified organic.Now,they importing 11 types of rice from Sarawak.

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more August 17, 2010 at 11:31 PM  

Oh, sorry, I have no idea where is the shop.
BTW, I don't stay in Klang Valley.
Thanks for the info, I'm sure my readers will find it useful

lena April 10, 2012 at 10:20 PM  

i saw elin's post abt this bario rice. Do you see them selling here now?

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more April 11, 2012 at 12:09 AM  

I've seen in BMS Organics. Next to Signature Kitchen.

Jati also has in 3kg packing(I think), bought before in Cold Storage. But quality wise not as good as those I bought in Sarawak, less bouncy
Was more than RM10/kg la...

Ask ur Sarawak friends to bring some for you, that will be the best ones.

ViccMalarn May 22, 2012 at 11:15 AM  

Hi there.. Its nice to know you love Bario rice. I grew up there, and i am very proud of it. You can visit my blog, ive posted an entry about Bario also.:)

Martha Joe July 25, 2012 at 8:56 AM  

oh yes!bario rice is the best..its yummy!

Nate @ House of Annie September 3, 2012 at 12:14 AM  

I really love Bario rice. It is so precious.

Jes's Deli Corner September 4, 2012 at 2:54 PM  

Interesting..will ask my Sarawak fren help me to buy. If not of u invited me to MFF I won't know all bout this. Hehe

Vivian Pang September 4, 2012 at 9:56 PM  

After read abt the Bario rice from you, I must go and buy some to try out! Sure regret if leaving Sarawak without trying their precious Bario rice. Anywhere do you think it is suitable in making sushi rolls?

I'm still wondering what kind of dishes or bakes for Sarawak feast :P

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more September 4, 2012 at 10:24 PM  

If I were u, I'll be eating Bario on a regular basis. LOL. It's so delicious.
A bit sayang to make sushi. The rice is so delish on its own and it's the texture that's absolutely unforgettable.

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more September 4, 2012 at 10:25 PM  

oh yes one more thing, fresh Bario taste much better than old bario rice. Just like thai fragrant rice, new ones are softer, old ones are drier

Nicole Wong,  October 1, 2012 at 5:59 PM  

Wendy, must try this 1 day. Do u mean cook/steam 1 cup of bario rice with 1 cup of water?

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