It’s amazing how I’ve never really written about ambuyat, Brunei’s unofficial national dish. Simply made from ambulong and hot water, yet turning it from powder to semi-solid blob is a skill possessed by not many. During the AUN Youth Summit, I mentioned that a man or a woman who can demonstrate flawless expertise in doing so will instantly gain eligibility points, and I stand by that statement.
Enjoyed by many cultures across the nation, unique for its texture, and notorious for the cacah (dip) that accompanies each bite. “Taste like heaven, smells like hell”, as a reader have so eloquently put it. Hot and tangy, strong savoury flavours in each bite. Nothing can go wrong.
But of course, having ambuyat and the cacah alone would barely qualify as a complete meal. Ambuyat is merely the carbohydrate component. Here are the delicious condiments that make the meal unique.
Ulam-ulaman. Loosely translated as salad! This I find important, aside from the obvious benefits from consuming fibre, the cooling properties of cucumber and various greens will balance out the cacah’s fieriness. Of course, it would sometimes seem redundant, as the sambal belachan that comes accompanying the ulam-ulaman would set your tongue back on fire.
Looks familiar? Well, I’ve featured this dish once bubbling in the pot when I had my camera handy during a Sang Jati meal.
It’s a delicious marriage of simple spices, asam for sourness, and fresh fish. The yellow tint is owed to turmeric, added in the beginning.
Ikan rebus, or the hot (in temperature, not taste) fish broth is a healthy condiment compared to what’s coming after this.
Lalap, or beef jerky, marinated for days in various spices of which I’m not sure of. I can see the various jintans, and chilli flakes. It tastes delicious! But many find the texture uneasy, as the beef is extremely dehydrated, it’s very chewy. While some would prefer pais daging (smoked beef), for me, this is a necessary condiment to have during my ambuyat sessions.
Also necessary is this kangkong (water spinach) stir fried in garlic and onion for that extra extra crunch and cooling down factor after gulping down the ambuyat and dip.
I purposely left this condiment to the last because, lets face it, it’s the unhealthiest thing ever. These are fatty arteries extracted from a cow, slow cooked for an inordinate amount of time in a mixture of spices, until all the fats melt to become oil. The arteries become very very very tender and slide in to our throats like chunks of butter. SINFUL, but an absolute must!
And that’s it! I hope this post will inspire you to enjoy a very Bruneian meal for lunch and maybe, when you come back, you might find it in your hearts to vote for the restaurant. Hehe. Tell the folks at that certain ambuyat restaurant I sent you.