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Street Food Friday: Laksa, Kolok Mee, and Satay in Malaysian Borneo

February 21, 2014 at 11:36 AM | by | ()

In a new weekly Friday column, we'll explore street food and other culinary specialties from around the world. Last week, it was Trinidad's roti, shark, and doubles. This week, we shoot across the Pacific to Malaysian Borneo to see what's cooking.

Last month, we spent close to two weeks in Kuching on Borneo, hiking through the surrounding vacant national parks and tracking down human skulls in the rainforest. But as any western traveler can tell you, the traditional food in Asian countries is one of the biggest treats. You can go out on a limb and try delicacies like python, but noodle-based street food dishes are the thing to try in Kuching.

Kolok Mee

Pronounced and also spelled Kolo Mee, this is a dry-noodle dish topped with seasoned mincemeat, usually marbled pork. The seasoning is typically a combination of garlic, shallots, soy sauce, lard, pepper, and fish sauce. The noodles are "flash boiled," meaning they are dipped in cold water once they are soft, then dipped again in hot water before being plated. There are many different takes and versions found on the streets, such as replacing the pork with beef. Post up next to a stand for a few moments to appreciate the separate "dipping tanks" used in the flash-boiling process.


Despite being a shrimp-based dish, this "wet-noodle" bowl is eaten for breakfast by the locals. Prawn paste is boiled down and combined with tamarind, ginger, garlic, shallots, and coconut milk, resulting in a light, creamy broth that the unknowing might confuse for a curry flavoring (curry is added to some versions, but not in the traditional Malaysian recipe that uses tamarind). Squeeze a lime over the top and use both chop sticks and a spoon to enjoy this delightful street soup.


This snack is far from complicated, but it is a staple of Southeast Asian culture. Beef, chicken or pork is barbecued on a stick and served with a spicy sauce, such as peanut or pineapple. You can pay for these with the change in your pocket, and they make great snacks for a walk and talk through the city streets.

[Photos: YienYien/Will McGough/thanislim.com]

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