Monday, September 3, 2012

Manok Pansoh - Sarawak MFF #1

1st attempt

Hello everybody it's the time for MFF again! And for this month it's Sarawak!
Don't forget to drop by Yummy Little Cooks for last month's roundup for Melaka

For Sarawak, I'll be doing 4 tribal recipes, hehehe.

If one were to ask the Ibans of Sarawak, what is the most famous food from their community, they'll answer you it's manuk pansuh/manok pansoh. Manuk is chicken and pansuh is cooking in bamboo. The Bidayuh tribe will instead call this as "Siyok Buruu". I do know that cooking in bamboo is also practised by other aboriginal peoples of the world, and have even seen a similar "orang asli" recipe in the Pahang Sultanah's cookbook.

1st attempt

I have been anxiously waiting for Raya. I'm not a muslim, and my fellow muslim friends celebrate it. One of their festive delicacy is Lemang. And Lemang is bamboo rice. Lemang = bamboo, bamboo= pansuh, hahaha! I love Raya :)

One my my hubby's employee, Kak Su owns a bamboo bush and they do cut and sell for this festive season. I asked her to pass to me those that are too short to be sold. She gave me 5 :) But before hers got to me, I bought 2 at the farmer's market, big and fat, customized the length in situ because the Pakcik had a saw with him. Normally bamboo for lemang is 2ft long, minimum. Some even reach 1 meter long. And when this pakcik saw me buying, he got really curious and asked me whether I want to make a coin bank with the bamboo I bought from him, LOL. I told him, I'm going to cook with it. His eyes went big, so did the makcik beside him. LOL.

1st attempt

I actually made manuk pansuh twice with 2 different recipes and temperature.

First recipe
Manuk Pansuh
Recipe reference: Hunter's Food
Method for baking :

1 free range chicken (850gm)
2 lemon grass
6 shallots
4 cloves of garlic
Toe sized ginger (25gm peeled weight)
10 black peppercorns
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 turmeric leaf (if small use 2)

Cassava shoots for stuffing
Bamboo (1 ft long cavity, 3 inches wide)

1. Wash and soak bamboo with water.
2. Chop chicken into small pieces.
3. Grind/pound shallots, garlic, ginger, peppercorns into a paste.
4. Cut lemongrass into 2 inch pieces and pound them flat.
5. Slice turmeric leaf into 5mm thick pieces.
6. Rub salt, lemongrass, turmeric leaf and the paste onto chicken. Let it sit for 1 hour.
7. Preheat oven to 130C(fan)/150C.
8. Drain water from bamboo.
9. Stuff the chicken into the bamboo and pour in some water, until it fills 2 inches to the top.
10. Stuff the bamboo with cassava shoots.
11. Bake for 30mins or until you see liquid dripping from the bamboo.
12. Pour contents into a deep dish and serve.

1st attempt

I can't smell the bamboo. A bit dissapointed. It tasted like ginger steamed chicken without any special bamboo fragrance. I blame it on the baking for the lack of it. My hubby said this tasted like a confinement dish.
The shallots, ginger or whatever actually smelled raw, tasted raw, although the chicken is overcooked (overcooked I blame myself because I didn't know how to see the doneness and cooked it for 1 hour as read from this site ) My bamboo was dripping drops of water and not gurgling, so I didn't know that's a sign.
You know how sometimes steamed chicken will still have its condiments tasting a bit raw even though the chicken is cooked. That sort of taste. The temperature just isn't high enough, even though I used a higher temp than what I saw.

Left: 1st attempt, Right: 2nd attempt

I wasn't very impressed with the first attempt. I knew what went wrong. And I made it another time with the bamboo given to me my Kak Su. Smaller in size, so I used 2 pieces of bamboo to cook for a meal. I also made some modifications as in I added sugar to balance with the ginger, added chilli, used less turmeric leaf, marinated the chicken with water added and most of all, added in some mushrooms (refered here). I skipped the cassava shoot stuffing, I know that is not that right, don't shoot me for it.

2nd attempt

2nd Recipe
Manok Pansoh
Recipe source: WendyinKK

500gm chicken
50gm shallots
25gm garlic
25gm ginger
5 inches lemon grass
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp sugar
2 bird’s eye chilli
100gm oyster mushroom
1 small turmeric leaf (6 inches long)
¾ cup water

1. Wash and soak bamboo with water.
2. Chop chicken into small pieces.
3. Grind/pound shallots, garlic, and ginger into a paste.
4. Cut lemongrass into 1 inch pieces and pound them flat. Pound bird's eye chilli flat too.
5. Slice turmeric leaf into 5mm thick pieces.
6. Rub salt, sugar, lemongrass, turmeric leaf, chilli and the paste onto chicken. Mix with water. Let it sit for 1 hour.
7. Preheat oven to 220C(fan)/240C.
8. Drain water from bamboo.
9. Tear mushroom into small pieces and stir into the chicken.
10. Stuff the chicken into the bamboo
11. Bake for 15mins or until you see liquid dripping from the bamboo.
12. Pour contents into a deep dish and serve.

2nd attempt

I loved no2 better. The sugar and mushrooms added a more balanced flavour to it. I prefer the heat from chilli compared to pepper. And less turmeric leaf was more acceptable to my husband and less turmeric leaf also allowed us to savour other flavours better. The ginger, shallots and garlic didn't taste raw this time and maybe the high temp baking really did work wonders to 'sweeten' those aromatics. The overall experience was delicious and nice and the smell was way better. 220C seems high, but to roast a chicken(exposed), you do need such a temperature to bring the chicken to smell good, activate the "fats" and get the bamboo smelling good. It's like a high temperature browned chicken prior to low temperature roasting does make the chicken smell a lot more heavenly, right?

Since it's still Raya month, pop by a lemang stall and ask for a piece of bamboo, get home and try making this. I've seen bamboo sections in Jusco too last week. Not sure if it's still available now.  If you bought lemang, maybe you can recycle the bamboo :p

If I were to make this again, I'll try it with daun bungkang (daun salam) and see how different is the taste.

1st attempt

I am submitting this to Malaysian Food Fest,
Sarawak Month hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts


  1. Well done to you too, though I wouldn't know what is this dish as I haven't heard it. So great of you showing us the way to put the bamboo in the oven to bake.

  2. This is so interesting. Maybe there is a difference in cooking in the oven compared to traditional method. I am not familiar with Sarwak dishes and I'll come back for more.

  3. This is really nice! I love the cultural exchange. You have a unique determination where cooking is concerned. I need to learn from you!

  4. Yes, I love this dish but I never cook it myself even though I am a Sarawakian. A good try.

  5. Very interesting...lreminds me of the chnese version of chicken steamed in bamboo. If i can get some bamboo, i will try this.

  6. Just dropping you a few lines to tell u that I love your MFF!! So much to learn!!! You har...really...I'm speechless...

  7. First time heard of this. Shy only.

  8. Very impressive... can I ask if u get a lot of "gravy" from it? I had it once before in Makan Kitchen and the guy say u can drink it like a soup (but I felt it was a bit salty).

  9. Baby Sumo,
    How much gravy depends on how much water you put in. How salty depends on how much salt is used. I do read,they like this chicken to be saltier. But I just used whatever that is enough for me. You can see from the pictures how much gravy I got, but my bamboo cannot accomodate anymore.

  10. Have no idea what is it until you posted this. Paiseh.
    Hey, do you know the reason I can't host the MFF? Haha... I just have a baby boy. Handful now. ;-)

  11. Wndey :
    Good job! Oddly we never have problem with raw taste of the ingredient, maybe because when we use the gas stove, it was on high fire. good for u to solve the problem. we never hv to use sugar though :D ..

    the lack of bamboo smell maybe cause by the type of bamboo u use. back home we normally use a younger bamboo, that is why either our pansuh, or lemang is much more fragrant than our West Malaysian counterpart in my opinion. but a beggar like us cant be a chooser definitely...

    for other ingredient, u can also try using torch ginger, or tipu (tepus) in replacement of turmeric leaf.. they all will come out differently, but still nice.

    Bidayuh pansuh will use tempoyak. and btw, if u want to try again, use pork. it is way much better than chicken, trust me ;)

    baby sumo : i was there at Makan Kitchen in 2010. Not the best pansuh, but we loved their Teh C peng!!

  12. Nimi,
    I think the oven baking doesn't release enough flavour and hence some sugar is needed. It's the problem of baking :(
    Oh yes, T definitely believe the variant of bamboo will yield different results, different soil too, even the cucumber grown at my home taste different than those bought ones.
    BTW, what's tepus? I have totally no idea and have never seen such leaves, sadly not available here. But I do see bungkang in the market.
    Pork? OKay, next raya ;p

  13. WOW .... U r really great Wendy.

  14. if you never show, i will hv doubts if the chicken can be cooked within 15 minutes with the bamboo surrounding it. It's a great post!

  15. Wow....looks delicious ! And you are great ...haha seeing how the bamboo stands on your muffin tin gave me idea how to make my lemang. But how to get the bamboo leh LOL! Have asked my muslim friend to get me one bamboo and keeping my fingers crossed that she will be able to get me one :)

  16. I'm a sarawakian and Chinese. Guess what, I've never tried the sago worms before (shame shame...) lol.. But I definitely love the lemang and pansoh chic ! Never tried the pork version. Really love your site and am particularly happy that you are cooking sarawakian dishes now!! Ha ha... Good job. Such a pleasure to read your blog! Thank you.


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