Seafood in Borneo
Seafood in Borneo so fresh that it still moves! Photo by Greg Rodgers.
The state of Sarawak is blessed with location when it comes to the seafood. The South China Sea guarantees a fresh daily supply of seafood and fish such as red snapper, Spanish mackerel, grouper, stingray, and more.
Some people believe that the secret seafood seasoning used by Sarawak chefs is the finest to be found in Southeast Asia. You will be amazed by the prices and quality of crab, prawns, squids, oysters, clams and lobsters; take advantage while you can, especially if in Kuching.
- Read about some other great Borneo food that didn’t come from the sea.
Borneo Seafood by the Gram
Fresh lobsters, prawns, crabs, jelly fish and other fish can be found in seafood restaurants for excellent prices; seafood is usually sold by the weight. The system can be confusing for Americans who are accustomed to seeing weights in ounces.
As a generic rule-of-thumb, 100 grams is equal to 3.5 ounces. A regular serving of fish for one person will be roughly 200 – 250 grams, assuming that you have rice and some side. Remember that prawns, crabs, and lobster tend to weigh more yet produce less meat for the money because of their shells!
Umai is a raw fish salad, mainly popular among the Melanau ethnic group that is traditionally a favourite lunch of the fishermen
The fish – mostly mackerel – used for umai is raw, freshly caught, iced but not frozen. The fish meat is mixed with finely sliced onions, chillies, and the juices of sour fruits such as lime or assam – a fruit native to Southeast Asia. Umai is usually served with rice or sago pearls.
Bamboo clams are very hard to find outside of Sarawak. Do not get fooled by its unpleasant presentation – they might look like worms – but bamboo clams are simply delicious. The bamboo gives clams a distinctively sweet taste; the choice of sauces mostly include curry, black pepper, or Chinese wine.
- Check out this other great Sarawak food!
Kuching Orh Jien
Orh jien is another common-enough dish in Sarawak. Orh jien is essentially a crispy omelette filled with cooked oysters. The omelette is garnished with coriander leafs and is served with an extra-salty soy sauce and dark vinegar with pepper for dipping. Almost every seafood place has Orh jien on their menu.
Shark’s Fin Soup
Although found all over Borneo, responsible travellers know to stay away from this expensive, unethical delicacy. Sharks are being fished to extinction simply for their fins; sharks are currently killed at a rate of 11,400 per hour!
- Learn the facts – read why smart travelers don’t eat shark’s fin soup!