Manok Pansoh: An Ethnic Bamboo Chicken Dish from Sarawak
Manok Pansoh (also called manuk pansuh/ayam pansuh) is an iconic ethnic dish, typical among the Dayak community (Iban, Bidayuh and Ulu people) in Sarawak. Manok Pansoh literally translates to ‘chicken bamboo’ in Iban language.
It is prepared by cooking chicken meat in a freshly cut bamboo stalk. Before cooking, the chicken is mixed and marinated with aromatics like onions, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, torch ginger flower and galangal). The marinated chicken is then stuffed into the bamboo and the bamboo opening is covered with tapioca leaves from the cassava plant. The stuffed bamboo is then placed next to an open fire (not directly on top of open fire) to be roasted slowly.
It is normally cooked without adding oil or water. The juice from the chicken will cook with other ingredients and turn into soup, to be served with the cooked chicken and the cooked tapioca leaves. The dish gives a wonderful aroma and flavour due to the roasted bamboo. Traditionally, free range village chicken is used, as it gives a sweeter flavour.
The origin of the dish is unclear, although we could assume that the dish was created so that it can be prepared anywhere without kitchen essentials like pots and gas stoves.
Initially, Manok Pansoh is usually served during the festival of Gawai Dayak (a thanksgiving festival marking a bountiful harvest) that falls on the month of June every year. But now, this dish can be found on restaurant menus, or during longhouse visits, or even during the open house of Christmas festival.
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