Ambuyat – the sticky icon

This thing was floating around in Facebook-ville… written by an apparent hater of the Ambuyat … from Denver, of all places.

I’ll treat it as fluff.

But one thing I learned was that Bruneians are very very protective of their beloved “tasteless goo”… jangan dikacau!! hehe (see comments- )

Mr Henderson must have never watched ‘Bizarre Foods’ on the Food Channel. If Ambuyat puts him off, I can only imagine his reaction as he watches dumpy Andrew Zimmern tuck into armadillo ‘alak-alak’ (that thing that hangs at the back of its throat) like nobody’s business. Ok so armadillos may not have ‘alak-alak’, I made that up, but  really, Andrew Zimmern  has fat fingers.

So, back to the ambuyat. I love it. With binjai. With cincalu. With tempoyak ( Hello, Datin! 🙂 )

Hate it?? Your loss.

Here’s the full text:

Not your sweet sago pudding
Accidental Gourmet Published:Jun 22, 2008

John Henderson

If Bruneians want to expand tourism, they’ll need to hide their national speciality.

I saw the sultan of Brunei the other day. He walked right by me as he entered a national Qur’an reading contest.

I wanted to ask the sultan a key question about his country’s cuisine: Hey, sultan, why can’t a man worth 22-billion, whose 400-million palace has a 110-car garage and 257 bathrooms, afford a better national dish?

It’s called ambuyat. Don’t look for it at an ethnic restaurant near you soon. It’s not going anywhere, and it’s here for reasons only historians and the streets’ starving cats can appreciate.

After four days in Brunei, I’d describe ambuyat (pronounced om-BOO-yacht) as a big pile of gelatinous, transparent goo dipped in coagulating blood.

First, a little background. During World War II occupation, the Japanese controlled Brunei’s rice paddies and cut off the food supply. One of the lone food sources was found inside the sago trees that fill Brunei’s jungles.

For centuries the Penan people, an indigenous, nomadic tribe who roam the jungles of Borneo, have lived off the sago tree. They still do. During a three-day trek through the jungles of Malaysian Borneo, I came across a Penan family squatting next to a stack of sago pulp.

They put what looked like leafy sawdust in a wooden bowl the size of a rubbish bin and pounded it into small chunks. They then mix it with hot water and the result is a starchy mass that has all the daily nutrients of raw lard.

Brunei, however, has advanced a bit since World War II. With the discovery of oil in 1929, Shell and the beloved sultan have put petrol in every pot. Shaped like two humps on a camel and occupying a small corner of Borneo’s northwest coast, Brunei has gone from a backwater British protectorate to a thriving Islamic republic of 375000 people with a glittering capital and prosperous economy.

Don’t believe me? What’d you pay for petrol this week? Exactly.

The sultan wants to expand tourism, and while he won’t open Hard Rock Brunei any time soon, he is promoting his country’s history. Part of that history is ambuyat. Tourism has grown 7% a year. I’m assuming ambuyat has nothing to do with it.

To try ambuyat, I went to a food-court stall where it was not pictured among the 31 dishes on the menu. No wonder. A picture in focus would scare off wharf rats.

Two young female cooks invited me into the kitchen to watch the process. It was little different from how the Penans make it. Ema poured a bag of sago that looked like blue-cheese crumbles into a pot of boiling water. She stirred for 60 seconds.

She handed me the result and the necessary dipping sauce, binjai, a gross mixture of chillies, salt and what looked like last week’s tomato soup. Hunks of bulbous matter floated in an orange- brown sea of repugnant fluids.

I was handed chopsticks , around which I was to twist the gooey ambuyat and then dip into the sauce.

The slimy mess slid down my throat like crushed, larvae-coated insect embryos. The sour binjai made my face wrinkle as if I woke up in a dairy farm. I looked over, and a young woman in a head scarf couldn’t stop laughing.

I tried it without the sauce and the ambuyat had no taste. None. But without the lubricating sauce, it nearly stuck halfway down my throat.

So hats off to Brunei for surviving World War II, where ambuyat was probably a tougher obstacle than the Japanese. But if the sultan invites you to the palace, forget the five swimming pools and 564 chandeliers. If ambuyat is on his menu, don’t go. — The Denver Post


The Food Channel- why not?

I was watching the Asian Food Channel (AFC) and there was this show called Restaurant Makeover, in which they revamp an entire restaurant and its menu ~ and this was where I saw this being made as part of the new menu.

I watched.

I drooled.

I made.






I made this three times over.   And I ate as many times.

What can I say? Chocolate & Bananas ~ Heaven on  earth a plate!


By “popular” demand (i.e. population: 2), here’s what you need and do:

It’s really just eggy bread,  so you must have:

Bread, eggs, sweet bananas sliced, raisins (optional), Chocolate paste/ flavouring (tiny bottle bought in SKH).

1. Make a normal chocolate banana raisin sandwich first. I made 2 layers, deep filled.

2. Dip and coat the whole sandwich into the egg. Not too soggy.

3. Fry with a bit of oil.

4. Optional: I dipped it in the egg a second time to get a second coating, then fried it again.

Presentation as in pic. I didn’t bother  with my first one coz I was drooling too much I coudn’t wait any longer!

I plan to experiment sticking two small bars of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut, and bananas, between some bread and just coat with egg and fry. Easier i think!

Yee sang..!!

At the same event for which I made the vegan cake, we had the most delicious Yee Sang I had ever tasted.  I think the pomelo bits made all the difference, but just look at the amazing colours!


Then out of nowhere, eerie floating hands appeared- some more hairy than others..!


May this new year of the Bull bring us peace and quiet ~ no bull poo, thanks very much. Yee sang!!


Here’s the recipe for Vegetarian Yee Sang taken from

It’s probably NOT the recipe that Nesam used, but it’s pretty close I’d say.  ADD POMELO PIPS.


  • 100g white radish, shredded
  • 100g carrot, shredded
  • 100g mango, shredded
  • 50g spring onions, shredded
  • 1 red chilli, shredded
  • 75g pickled papaya, shredded
  • 6 pickled leeks, shredded
  • 100g pomelo wedges, peeled and separate the sacs
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
  • 20g young ginger, finely shredded
  • 1 pair Cakoi, sliced thinly and deep-fried until crispy (OR CRISPY FLAKES AS CROUTONS)
  • 100g sweet potato, finely shredded
  • 50g toasted sesame seeds
  • 70g roasted peanuts, poundedSauce ingredients (cook and cool)
  • 300g plum sauce
  • 1 tbsp apricot jam
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame paste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste10g Chinese five spice powder, put into a red packet

    Deep-fry shredded sweet potatoes in hot oil until crispy. Drain. Add sliced yao char kwai pieces to the hot oil. Deep-fry until lightly golden and crispy. Remove from oil and drain well on crushed kitchen paper.

    Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a low simmering boil. Leave aside to cool completely before use.

    Arrange the shredded ingredients attractively on a big, round serving platter.

    To serve, pour the sauce over the yee sang and sprinkle the with five-spice powder.

    Add a sprinkling of sesame seeds and roasted peanuts.

  • Vegan Black Cherry Mocha Cake

    Recently, a dear friend of us visited from Malaysia.  Nesam’s a strict vegan, so the guys at the office tasked me with bringing some food in for a little tea party-  vegan style.  I only agreed to take up the challenge because I’d never made strict vegan food~ but also in part, Nesam rather sweetly made a beautiful fish head curry for us some time ago although she’s vegan.  So I wanted to repay her, sort of.

    Found this recipe at //    It was supposed to be raspberry, but at 1.30 am- I coudn’t quite go out to our little raspberry patch outside and pick some, could I?  Pohon asam jawa ada!  In a state of panic (because I’d forgotten about the party the next morning!), I rummaged through the larder and found a can of black cherry filling. Thank God for that!  It really was very last minute.

    Here’s how it turned out…


    For all the worry, the cake turned out to quite tasty.


    The cake was in fact suprisingly easy to make. Now I don’t normally give out recipes (not coz i don’t like sharing, rather, it’s just not my thang..), but I’ll make an exception to this one coz I was impressed that despite not having any butter or eggs in it, the cake was moist and, if I may say so myself, delicious:

    3 cups self-raising flour

    1 1/2 cup sugar

    1/2 cup cocoa

    1/4 cup oil

    1 1/2 tsp vanilla

    2 tbspn vinegar

    1/4 cup of water

    3/4 cup strong coffee

    3/4 cup black cherry preserves

    Just mix everything until creamy batter is formed . Preheat oven at 250 degrees and cook for 25 minutes. Easy peasy!

    (I actually baked another Vegan dish, the apple and spice cake ~ which appeared as anaemic as my pasty legs~  even our durian-loving cat wouldn’t go near it.  SNOB!)

    Anyway, give it a go!