As-sam (Bornean Bamboo-Cooked Rice With Hen) Recipe



Why It Works

  • Utilizing recent bamboo as a cooking vessel provides a novel vegetal taste to the as-sam.
  • The rooster juices infuse the rice in a sealed surroundings with minimal evaporation, sustaining a moistness that’s redolent with the essence of rooster.

When open flames hit recent, inexperienced bamboo, a definite grassy perfume emerges—one which jogs my memory of Borneo, an island within the southwestern Pacific Ocean that’s cut up into Malaysian and Indonesian territories and residential to the Bidayuh folks, certainly one of many indigenous teams in Borneo which are collective known as Dayak. Cooking in bamboo is the important thing to as-sam, a country, hearty Bidayuh dish fabricated from rice and rooster, and spiced with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and black pepper. The entire combination is packed right into a tube of bamboo, sealed with pandan leaves, and slowly roasted over open flames. The rooster juice infuses the rice, making them plump, moist, and aromatic, and the open flames lends every chunk a touch of smokiness. 

Severe Eats / Michelle Yip


As-sam is above all else sustaining, filling the stomach and warming the center with easy flavors and elements from the land. My grandmother, a no-nonsense character fast with a pointy phrase but gentle together with her palms, would stuff the rooster and rice combination deftly into the bamboo and loudly clamor for somebody to mild the fireplace. Within the conventional rural family of my mom’s childhood, there was at all times one thing to do, and my mom was typically saddled with the duty of helping my grandmother with making as-sam.

Dayak Delicacies

Historically, Dayak communities—the indigenous inhabitants of Borneo—rely closely on foraging and farming. In lots of rural villages, it’s nonetheless a really massive a part of life in a land that, whereas fertile, may be cruel. Carbohydrates like rice, cassava, and sago, together with proteins like freshwater fish, characteristic closely in Dayak delicacies, whereas meat like rooster and pork is taken into account a luxurious reserved for particular events and festivals.

Severe Eats / Michelle Yip


As a result of meat is seldom used and extremely valued, starches and greens typically assist to stretch meaty dishes additional. As-sam may be very a lot an instance of this: Hearty bits of savory rooster meat and pungent spices enrich plain rice, and it’s all packed in bamboo, a handy receptacle that doubles as each cooking vessel and storage container. It may be carried on lengthy treks, for instance, then cut up open and the food inside served when desired.

Getting Bamboo-zled

For first timers, it might be—would possibly I say—bamboozling to search out you could cook dinner with bamboo, however nothing says indigenous Bornean cooking prefer it. Bamboo is a grass that grows like large weeds all throughout the island. For so long as hearth has been used to cook dinner meals right here, the bamboo has been its associate, and over time, has turn out to be ubiquitous with a lot of Dayak cooking, tradition, structure, and historical past.

For those who’ve ever seen bamboo, you could have observed that the hole stalk—or “culm” in botanical terminology—is split into segments by stable joints known as nodes, every of which seals one phase from one other. To reap a bamboo culm for cooking, one cuts out a bit with just one node nonetheless hooked up on one finish to yield a tube that’s closed on one finish (the place the node is) and open on the opposite. The result’s a ready-made vessel that is inexperienced and cylindrical.

Severe Eats / Michelle Yip


In Borneo, a sort of bamboo known as buru’ is used for cooking, although many sorts of bamboo can work. Completely different dimensions and sizes of bamboo are chosen relying on the kind of meals being cooked. What makes buru good for cooking is its comparatively skinny partitions, which permit warmth to penetrate shortly. The proper buru is neither too younger nor too previous, recent sufficient to not burn when it’s licked by flames, and mature sufficient to not rupture when heated. If in search of bamboo to do that cooking methodology by yourself, search for vegetation which are a darkish inexperienced shade with a few half-centimeter wall thickness and seven-centimeter diameter.

Severe Eats / Michelle Yip


Beware although, some bamboo is roofed in high-quality white hairs that may trigger you to itch like loopy if they arrive into contact along with your pores and skin. To take away the hairs, vigorously wipe the culm with the bamboo’s personal leaves. It is also necessary to rinse the within of the culm to take away any mud. If not used instantly, fill the culms with water as much as the rim to maintain them recent for about 5 days.



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