Dayak Black Pepper Stew


This month’s Malaysian Food Fest brings us to the state of Sarawak. Known as Bumi Kenyalang (“Land of the Hornbills”), Sarawak is the largest of Malaysia’s States and one of the two States located on the third largest island in the world — Borneo. With little knowledge that I have on Sarawakian dishes, my research brought new understanding and delights into my life.

The Dayak are the native people of Borneo. It is a loose term for over 200 riverine and hill-dwelling ethnic subgroups, located principally in the interior of Borneo, each with its own dialect, customs, laws, territory and culture, although common distinguishing traits are readily identifiable. As Sarawak contains large tracts of tropical rainforest, the food of the natives are hugely influenced by the natural resources surrounding them whether it’s the jungle, forest, sea or rivers. Activities like foraging, hunting and fishing were important for food source.

Among the Sarawak food that I found served in hotels is Dayak Black Pepper Stew, and was fortunately  to have found a recipe from Sarawak Ethnic Cuisine by Nimi (a Bidayuh girl from Bau, Sarawak). According to Nimi, if this Dayak dish is to be called a French dish, this should be equivalent to French coq au vin, or boeuf bourguignon. Now this is a dish I’ve to got try.

Nimi said, this stew can be used with many types of meats especially exotic animals such as bats, squirrel, wild boar, pigeon and any animals they can find in the jungle. (eerr.. I’m not sure if I can chow down if I am served bats..) The stewing process certainly helps to soften the tough meat. As the Dayak in general is the main producer of black pepper in Malaysia, maybe that is why black peppercorn is use liberally in this stew, which is a little overpowering for my liking.

The combination of all the ingredients gives a very fragrant aroma during the cooking process. I’m overall very satisfied with the recipe, the meat just falls off the bone and the well balanced flavours made the dish very appetizing. More rice for me please. There goes my low carb diet..

Do you know how to butcher a whole chicken to small pieces? Below is a helpful tutorial from Rouxbe Online Cooking School. I’ve learnt many useful cooking techniques from their videos.

I am submitting this dish to Malaysian Food Fest, Sarawak Month hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts and also to Malaysian Muhibbah Monday hosted by 3hungrytummies.
.                               Malaysian Food Fest
Updated 1st Dec 2012: The Sarawak Black Pepper I used is bought from my last trip to Sibu, a chef told me that he can’t find Sarawak Black Pepper in KL. It’s strange that our own homegrown Black Pepper is exported. If anyone know where it’s sold in KL, let me know.
Or you can buy them online via

5.0 from 2 reviews
Dayak Black Pepper Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Ethnic Dayak Black Pepper Stew, full of flavour with Sarawak Black Pepper
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
  • 500g Meat (I used chicken, let the exotic animals stay in the forest)
  • 5 cloves Garlic
  • 5 Shallots
  • 5cm Ginger
  • 3 tablespoon Black Peppercorn - coarsely pounded
  • 1-2 Cili Padi (Bird Eye's Chillies)
  • 1cm cube Belacan (Shrimp Paste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooking oil for saute
  • 2 liter water
Optional: (I add in Asam Keping)
  • Any sourish vegetables such as Terung Dayak (yellow eggplant), Pucuk Daun Kedondong (Ambra Leaves) or Pucuk Daun Mengkudu (all slice thinly)
  • 1 piece Asam Keping (Dried Tamarind) for added sourish if preferred
  • 1 piece Turmeric Leaves for additional fragrance
  • A dash of Whiskey
  1. Pound garlic, shallots and ginger together using pestle & mortar, or food processor.
  2. Finely chopped bird eye's chilli and shrimp paste together.
  3. Heat up pot with 2 tablespoon cooking oil. Saute garlic, shallots and ginger mixture until fragrant on medium high heat. Then add in the shrimp paste mixture.
  4. Add in meat and stir fry. Lower heat, then cover pot with lid for about 15 minutes.
  5. Add water and mix thoroughly. Turn the gas to medium low. Cover, and let it cook for about 1 hour until the meat soften, or the water reduced to ⅓.
  6. Stir-in the black peppercorn, sour vegetables, and salt to taste. Add a dash of whiskey if preferred. Cook for another 10minutes, and it's ready to be served.



  1. Pingback: A Tantalizing Collection of Soups and Stews | MJ's Kitchen

  2. Suku Dayak has some quite interesting dishes. OMG, I just scratched my head where I have to get pucuk mengkudu. But I do have frozen an dried turmeric leaves. My favourite Asian store in town has imported dried turmeric leaves from Indonesia, the frozen ones were the yield from my turmeric plant.
    Pepy | Indonesia Eats recently posted..Sumac Beet Chips RecipeMy Profile

  3. Pingback: MFF (Malaysian Food Fest) Round-Up for Sarawak Month (Sept 2012) | Feats of Feasts

  4. I love all of the Southeast Asian components of this delicious looking dish. It is making me hungry and I must have a bowl of rice with it. Thank you for sharing this dish and thank you for dropping by and commenting on my blog the other day, Shannon.

    ~ ray ~

    • Thanks Ray for dropping by and your lovely comments. I love all Southeast Asian ingredients, would go crazy if I were to move to a country that doesn’t have these ingredients 🙂

  5. I love the spiced quality of this dish–looks amazing!

  6. 3 tablespoons of pepper?! Think I’ll need to sit next to a fire hydrant while eating this 🙂 I might have to reduce the amount of pepper when making this. Hope that doesn’t affect the flavors too much.But then, I’ve never had an authentic stew so maybe that won’t matter too much! It does sound super good for winter tho … nice warm tummy ….
    ping recently posted..Lotus Leaf Glutinous Rice PacketsMy Profile

    • I was gulping down cold water while eating this, and adding more rice. it’s good, that’s why couldn’t stop LOL. Yup, it’s good for winter, but how to get winter here wor.. switching on all the aircond in the house and wear winter coats 😀

  7. Black pepper isn’t used near enough as a primary seasoning so I’m loving this stew! I love a peppery flavor. I can smell it coming off the computer screen! Great recipe!
    mjskit recently posted..Cooking without a kitchen and an UpdateMy Profile

    • Now you’ve made it, I can’t quite recall much dish with black pepper as main seasoning. Maybe I’m not such a big fan. Hope you get to try this recipe when your kitchen is ready 🙂

  8. Looks like a delicious and comforting dish! Thanks for the entry!
    3hungrytummies recently posted..Keang Massaman Neur แกงมัสมั่นเนื้อ Massaman Curry With BeefMy Profile

  9. Absolutely love this [and by all means let us leave the bats and squirrels in the trees!] – hmm, am certain the shrimp paste makes quite a taste difference and I don’t think a dash of whisky ever hurt any cooking 🙂 !

  10. Sounds yummy, pungent, and manageable! Wll try, thanks for sharing. Btw, i love your background props of the hornbill and the flower. Very nice!

    • Thanks Esther! yes, you give the best description – pungent! was thinking whole day for the description 🙂 I was searching high and low around my apartment for something to represent sarawak, and always my fridge magnet collections come to the rescue 😀

  11. That’s a stew to my liking. I like the ingredients you have added in. I just don’t know what terung dayak etc is and what asam is or what this ingredients taste like.

    Bats, that’s interesting and quite something unusual. Squirrels… no. Maybe I ll just stick to chicken as u did. Thank you for the post, was very interessting.
    Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb recently posted..Comment on Quiche de Goa with Breadfruit and Luffa Veg by MeetaMy Profile

  12. Hehe I realise they use a lot of peppercorn in their cooking. Well I guess it’s one of the most famous produce coming out of Sarawak… your dish looks great and fairly easy to replicate! 😉
    Baby Sumo recently posted..Ramen @ Menya Musashi, Raffles City, SingaporeMy Profile

  13. Yummy, yummy!! Well done, looks really delish, although like you….too much pepper also not really my thing. 🙂 Don’t forget to email me this entry!
    Sharon @ Feats of Feasts recently posted..MFF Sarawak – Hoongan Chau ChaiMy Profile

  14. Eh.. I didn’t see this in her blog. haha, must have been too blinded by her pig stomach dish.
    This dish will be something I might consider cooking if I happen to be given some wild boar, curry sounds boring sometimes.

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