Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ambuyat - Sabah MFF #1

This month's MFF is featuring Sabah, the Land Beneath the Wind.
The only state in Malaysia that I have never set foot in, not even for a minute.
I'm quite vague about it's cuisine as there aren't much recipes available on the internet. Some of which that you will see me posting this month, is recreated from descriptions of taste and pictures found on the internet. I do hope that it is close to how it should be.

And I'll be featuring the traditional dishes before I move to the modern day yums of the state next week. Probably 8 recipes in total.

The usual accompanying dishes

Back to Ambuyat. I first got to know of this dish via Disney Junior channel. It was rather intriguing... how does bland starch taste like.

Ambuyat is a dish of the Bisaya people that reside in Brunei as well as both Sarawak and Sabah. Other tribes do consume ambuyat too, and it may be called with other names like 'linut' or 'jalit' in Miri.
It is eaten like a staple, like how one would eat rice, or bread or noodles.

It is made from sago starch, derived from the trunk of the sago palm. The starch is soaked and cooked by scalding it with boiling water. Ambuyat tastes bland, and is always served with dishes, like how rice is served, and the dishes usually comes with a hot and sour tone. And to eat ambuyat, one uses sticks, not hands nor other cutleries. Some will use chopstick to twirl the starch.

I couldn't twirl the starch that well, as they aren't as sticky as seem on TV. Maybe it's because mine aren't the ones harvested from Borneo. It is said that the sago starch we have here is not the same as the ones there. But after dipping in the sour gravy.... it becomes one lump of slithery goodness...that I find it quite similar to eating jelly. I don't know how I should eat the vegetable condiment and so I lifted some up to be chewed along.

Eating ambuyat is pleasurable and fun!

Reference: Nutriweb 

Ambuyat (single person portion)

60gm sago starch
40ml drinking water
300ml-350ml  boiling water

Bring 400 ml water to a boil (the water will evaporate as you boil). Mix sago starch with drinking water. Stir it well, the starch might be a bit hard to mix around. Pour boiling water, going slow and stir all the time for the earlier moments, then continue to pour the boiling water until you can notice some parts are turning translucent. Stop pouring and stir vigorously to form a soft sticky translucent lump of cooked starch.

*Zap in microwave if your ambuyat fails to cook even if you have added all of the boiling water.

Sour Fish Broth

400gm fish (I used mackerel)
3 bird's eye chilli, halved
2 lemongrass, bashed
2-3 pcs of dried tamarind (asam gelugor), rinsed
1 tsp salt or as needed
2 cups water
Coarsely grind/pound
4 shallots
2 garlic clove
1 inch ginger (thumb sized)
1 small piece turmeric (pinkie sized)

Put everything into the wok/pot except the fish and salt and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer for 10 minutes, then put in the fish. Let it simmer until the fish is cooked. Add salt, and make it slightly oversalted.
*Add some sugar if it's too sour

Kangkung Belacan

400gm kangkung
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 red chilli
small piece of belacan (around 2x1x1cm)
3 Tbsp oil

Trim kangkung and rinse them well to get rid of sand. Slice shallot, garlic and chilli. Chop belacan finely.
Heat wok and put in oil. Saute shallot and garlic until fragrant, add in chilli and saute until the shallots look slightly golden. Put in chopped belacan and cook until very fragrant. Put in kangkung. Gently toss them around. Cook until just wilted. Dish up.

ingredients for the sour fish broth

Here is a video that I found on Youtube on how ambuyat is made the original way

I am submitting this to Malaysian Food Fest Sabah Month hosted by Mary Of a Pepper's Love


  1. In Indonesia at the east side we also have similar dish the name is Papeda. The sago used is in block form. I tried it once and love the combination of the chewiness and the fish soup.

  2. Now I remember Ambuyat! I saw it on Majalah 3 many years ago. I thought that it was quiet "geli" as it reminded me of my grandma's homemade glue :)

  3. Hi Wendy....I've been reading about you.....for a young mother like are so good at cooking n lots of experience too!
    Compliments to you!

  4. Dewi,
    Ahh... I wish one day I can try Papeda. Sabah's dishes served with ambuyat is not the same as Brunei, I wonder if the ones you ate before is similar?

    Phong Hong,
    Surprisingly hoh... it's bouncy de, macam eat "frog jelly". Nice, I would love to try the original version if I have the chance

    thanks! I cook to eat, out of neccesity :)

  5. Hai love to browse your blog...looking at the scrumptious dishes made me want to try them..oh i thought you're staying in Kota Kinabalu (KK), Sabah..

  6. Thank you for sharing traditional Sabahan dishes. This kinda reminds me of fu fu or foufou, eaten in Uganda and other west and central african nations, using cassava or cornmeal. Or in Hawaii, they use taro to make poi. I have had some fu fu before and it takes some getting used to.

    Good for you, being very adventurous.

  7. Diane,
    My husband had foufou before when he was in Ghana. He told me it was nice.
    Haha, it was fun trying out new things.


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