Malaysian Food · February 12, 2022

Kampua feature

Foochow Kampua: A Simple iet Iconic Noodle Dish from Sibu Sarawak

Foochow Kampua: A Simple iet Iconic Noodle Dish from Sibu Sarawak

Kampua 干盘面 is a dry noodle dish from Sibu, Sarawak. It is introduced by the early migrants that came from Foochow city in China and settled in Sibu. The early migrants were poor and they needed a dish that’s cheap, filling, and easy to make to fill their stomach. So they started making a dish from their homeland Foochow – dry mixed noodles. All they did was mixing their homemade noodles with pork lard, shallots and seasonings, and called it a meal. Thus, Kampua is born. 干拌面 ‘Dry mixed noodle’, sounded like 干盘面 ‘dry plate noodle’ in Foochow dialect, thus Kampua’s Chinese became ‘dry plate’.

The Kampua noodles are made from wheat flour, egg, salt and water. It is does not contain any alkaline component. To make Kampua, a handful of noodles is first tossed into the vat of boiling water until the noodle is cooked. The noodles are then taken out using a strainer and shook to remove excess water. Then the noodles are placed in a bowl pre-loaded with pork lard, sauces and seasonings. Thin slices of pork (commonly dyed with red colour to imitate char siew), with some garnishes are added to the noodles, and the dish is complete.

Nowadays, there are more flavour variations to the dish. Dark soy sauce or chilli sauce are sometimes added to Kampua to form 3 main variations – plain (traditional), dark (more savoury) and red (spicier).

Kampua is very similar to the Kolo Mee of Kuching, not just in their appearance, but also in their taste. This is because they are likely to be siblings of the same parents. The main difference is that Kolo Mee is often served with minced pork and cut chillies, while Kampua is not. Kolo Mee also has fancier toppings like seafood, while Kampua is often only served with thinly sliced roast pork. Kolo Mee can be made with different noodles like vermicelli, flat rice noodles, flat egg noodles, served in a bowl because it is more watery, compared to the distinct Kampua noodle which is drier and served on a plate.

That said, the differences between them becomes more and more blurred when noodle shops or stalls all over Sarawak are regularly changing the way they serve their dry mixed noodles their own way. A predictable, traditional plate of Kampua can still be easily found throughout Sibu and at places with more Foochow people.