Saturday, April 11, 2009

No He is NOT Mr. Flintstone

This is Mersin my friend from Sg. Brit Marudi who is an oil and gas off shore personnel. An Iban can only be as happy as can be when he is able to obtain a highly valued pantu stump like this. This palm shoot stump costs more than RM 20 in the market but is free in the longhouse if it is part of the kebun planted by his grandfather. This stump is enough for more than 30 people. A huge Indian curry pot is usually used to cook pantu - plain boiling with chicken or pork with or without fu chuk. It is an excellent soup as the pantu is soft and sweet - almost like sweet potato in texture.

Pantu is a popular domesticated palm grown by Ibans all over Sarawak. In fact wherever you see the tall pantu palm you can be assured that there is an Iban settlement near it. It is a palm that can be grown on undulating hills or even in swampy soils.

Discovery Channel has featured the cooking of pantu in one of its programmes on Borneo.

According to an old uncle when the Foochows first came to settle in Sibu the Ibans taught them how to cook this popular food as soup or just boil it with some rice as porridge.In various Chinese documents the Ibans have helped the Foochows learn to eat various vegetables grown by the Ibans and also food found growing wild in the jungle like tapioca leaves and other shoots. It was only later when the Foochows began to grow their own vegetables successfully that they probably stopped eating the wild plants and fruits. My grandmother used to tell us that they often harvested the bamboo shoots from the jungle in Sg. Maaw. But most probably these bamboo shoots were not wild but have been planted by the Ibans more than 100 years ago. The Ibans and Foochows had during the pioneering days of Sibu exchanged vegetable seeds and learned from each other about market gardening. Today after 100 years or so it is hard to tell who started to grow cangkok manis for example!

Pantu can also be cooked in fish curry or stir fried with lots of dried prawns. My family actually loves it very much. It is organic and is definitely fertilizer free . Sometimes because of its high price we share one stump with two or three other families. We normally cook it when we have something to celebrate like a birthday or a graduation.

Many of my Foochow relatives who live near Ibans in Marudi and Bintangor claim that pantu is one of the dishes they love.

11 memories:

justin said...

Yes! most of my family members love this "palm shoot". It is kind of rare too as not often can get in the tamu.
Our preparation is very simple - soup with wildboar is the best. But sometimes I feel that that too is getting more difficult.

sarawakiana said...

I remember liking that dish so much that I only ate it for breakfast and lunch!

Yes pantu is getting too rare nowadays.

Free Bird said...

Oh My!Such a delicacy!

Is it possible to plant it in pots?

sarawakiana said...

Hi Happy EAster!
This is indeed an exotic delicacy. No it is not possible to plant pantu in pots.

My photos of pantu taken last year are still kept in Penny Lane's camera. Hope she can send me the disc by courier. Then you can have a look at the size of the thorny palm.

there is a legend about Pantu palm in Lubok Pantu. Amazing!

bliss said...

yes I agree that this pantu is an exotic and out of this world kind of shoot.
We used to cook a lot of it when we were young and old chickens were ever ready in the market.
If only my granny is younger to do all the cooking of the local food for us.

chung said...

Here's a line for you to check out - Mr. flintstone is a really nice guy.

pennylane said...

We have a relative who goes to his farm frequently to check on his palm plantation. It's a small one and they started only a few years ago. I asked him to bring some back if "he could" and he said, he said he'd bring some back if "he could" chop down a palm tree from a neighbouring plantation.

The pantu that mersin was carrying could last me a week here. Just pantu with a bit of chicken and hot rice is alraedy a fannntastic meal.

sarawakiana said...

Dear Chung - You mean Mersin? He is a fantastic cousin of a good friend - You watch Korean Movies? A big business man always has a male secretary or helper? Mersin is just like the ever faithful Korean side kick to one of the best Iban man I know in Miri.

The character Mr. Flintstone is nice of course.

sarawakiana said...

Nice of you to visit! Yes Pantu is great with chicken. But oil palm shoot which is readily available in Malahysia is not sold in the market.
Most West Malaysians learn to enjoy oil palm shoot here especially in Miri.

ngoh said...

People should not eat so much oil palm shoot. No one has ever tested the shoots for the amount of chemicals present in it.

Have to be careful. My relatives said they will not eat ferns )meedin) collected near the roads!

sarawakiana said...

Thanks Ngoh for the kindly reminder.
Indeed we need to have a responsible body to do research on our local food. I have even heard of horrific preservatives used for our fish and local meat!! But never know how true these info is.
WE just have to be careful with what we eat. But pantu from the villages are definitely alright.


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