Lemang Periuk Kera: A Delicacy that Could Cause the Extinction of Pitcher Plants in Malaysia
Lemang Periuk Kera is a delicacy from Malaysia that has become a food trend in recent years. Traditional Lemang is made from glutinous rice, coconut milk, and salt wrapped with banana leaves and stuffed inside hollowed bamboo sticks. The bamboos are then leaned on a horizontal fence, with an open fire roasting them from behind. Once cooked, the Lemang is cut into small round-shaped pieces and served with Rendang or Serunding on the morning of Hari Raya.
Lemang Periuk Kera, as the name suggests, is Lemang cooked in Carnivorous pitcher plants (called Periuk Kera in Bahasa Malaysia). The creation of this dish started with a Malaysian man named Atan. Atan learned that Borneo indigenous people have been using wild pitcher plants for cooking rice. This inspired him to venture into a new Lemang business where he swapped the bamboos with wild pitcher plants, and it resulted in Lemang with a unique looking container.
Atan then moved to Selangor and sold his Lemang Periuk Kera there, and the people in Klang Valley enjoyed it so much that he received more than 200,000 orders from just one Hari Raya holiday. His success has prompted many other vendors to start harvesting wild pitcher plants in forests all over Malaysia, and selling their own Lemang Periuk Kera. Some vendors even add pandanus leaf, roasted peanuts, or belacan (fermented shrimp paste) for an extra hint of local flavour.
The rise of popularity has raised concerns that it would contribute to the extinction of the already endangered plant species. In addition, overharvesting pitcher plants could also disrupt the harmony of the jungle ecosystem. To date, neither studies nor technology have been planned out to commercialize pitcher plants in the country. Thus, it is wise to just stick with traditional bamboo Lemang. It tastes as good as Lemang Periuk Kera, without the cost of losing some of our unique floras permanently.