Sinalau Bakas: The Iconic Smoked Jungle Boar of Sabah
Sinalau Bakas holds a special place in the culinary heritage of the Kadazandusun people in Sabah, Malaysia. Combining the words “sinalau” (meaning “smoked”) and “bakas” (referring to the jungle boar), this iconic dish is deeply rooted in the traditions of the Kadazandusun community. Living in villages near Borneo’s lush rainforests, where wild boars freely roam, the Kadazandusun people have long hunted these animals for sustenance, making wild boar a common source of food.
The preparation of Sinalau Bakas begins with the wild boar carcass being cut into large pieces. These pieces are then smoked over indirect heat on a grilling rack, with a pile of burning firewood beneath. The smoldering wood infuses the meat with its rich smoky flavours while also slowly preserving it. When customers are ready to order Sinalau Bakas, they have the opportunity to select from a wide variety of cuts and sizes. The chosen cut is weighed and priced accordingly. The meat is then cut into manageable chunks and grilled directly over heat. As the meat has already been smoked, only salt is typically used for seasoning during the grilling process.
Wild boar meat is known for its leanness, offering a tender and succulent texture. Before serving, the grilled meat is often sliced into smaller, more manageable pieces. It is traditionally enjoyed with a combination of traditional chilli sauce and a special barbecue sauce, enhancing its already distinctive flavors.
Sinalau Bakas is commonly sold at roadside stalls and “Tamu” markets, which are local traditional markets. In addition to the grilled meat, some vendors may also offer bakas soup and raw bakas meat for those seeking different culinary experiences. It’s worth noting that the opening days and hours of these stalls can be irregular due to the unpredictable nature of hunting. However, when you have the opportunity to savour this unique dish, it is truly a treat for the senses.
For the Kadazandusun people, Sinalau Bakas represents more than just a delicious food—it is a reflection of their deep connection to the land and their culinary traditions. So, if you find yourself in Sabah, be sure to seek out this smoky delight.