Back to black…

My blogger-friend, Phong Hong, published a post recently on the masak hitam (literally translated, cooked black) that she cooked but it did not look quite the same. I checked the ingredients and they were nothing like what we would have in our Sarawak masak hitam – I don’t think they have curry and turmeric powder among the ingredients.

Of course, it would taste nice – with all those ingredients that went into the cooking, it couldn’t possibly be otherwise…like in the case of my failed attempt at cooking the dish from scratch – it did not look nor taste anything like it but yes, it tasted great. I had raisins in mine which is a crucial ingredient, it seems, and they said it was because I added santan (coconut milk) – there should not be any in the dish – and they also suggested using kicap manis(sweet dark soy sauce)  instead of the regular ones.

This originally Sarawak Malay delight…

Daging masak hitam Sarawak 1
*Archive photo*

…(unlike Sarawak laksa, which if I am not wrong, is a Kuching Chinese creation) is the favourite of many but both my missus and my girl are not all that fond of it, maybe because of the hint of the sweetness in it but no, it is not really sweet, just a hint of it, I said, like in the case of satay or char siew…and my girl does not like raisins, I don’t know why.

It is not really hitam or black, more of a darker shade of brown though I have seen some really black ones at wedding banquets like this one, for instance…

Daging masak hitam Sarawak 2
*Archive photo*

My missus insisted that they used browning but I don’t really know how they did it…but whatever the shade of black it may be, I love it! It does not matter that nobody the the house likes it so much and nobody is going to cook it – I can easily go out and buy at this favourite Malay food stall of mine at Bandong here. They have it every day and yes, theirs is very nicely done. You can buy the meat by the chunks, RM1.50 or maybe RM2.00 for one huge piece and they will give you a lot of the very nice gravy that goes so absolutely well with rice. The one here is also very nice and you can have it with your nasi lemak or whatever and they do sell it by the kilo as well for when you are hosting a buffet dinner party at home or something though I can’t remember the price now.

As a matter of fact, you can find it quite easily at all the Malay stalls and shops in town and they would all be pretty good but I did hear once that most of them do not cook from scratch and would use these…

Liza's perencah itam


I did give a tub to my Ipoh masterchef/blogger-friend, Elin and she used it to cook her own version of the masak hitam dish and she loved it so very much, praising it the the skies. Here, you can read all about it here. I also gave some to a friend of mine, my girl’s lecturer in Sg Petani, Kedah and every Hari Raya, she would ask for more. Obviously, she liked it a lot too. Well, since it is so good, we never bother to cook from scratch anymore. All I would do would be to fry one Bombay onion, finely chopped and one or two stalks of serai (lemon grass) for the added fragrance, add the meat and paste and water and simmer till done. So very easy!

I told Phong Hong in my comment that I would get it for her to try but horror of horrors!!! When I dropped by the shop where I used to buy this, they told me that it was not available and they had not received any for a while now, so their guess was the company had gone bankrupt!

That afternoon, I went round some supermarkets and shops – I did see the asam pedas at one of them but I did not want that. Then, something told me to go back to the first shop, the one I went to that morning, to check a smaller one about two doors away and to my delight, they had what I was looking for and a whole lot of others from that same Miri-based company, Liza’s.

I quickly grabbed some for Phong Hong and I also bought her the Sarawak laksa

Liza's Perencah laksa

…to try. I’ve never tried it myself but I have heard people saying that it is very good, just that there isn’t much one can cook using one tub – maybe two or three bowls whereas if you use the regular laksa paste sold in packets, you would have enough to feed an army. One thing good about this one is you would not need to sieve the soup/gravy to remove all the fine ingredients. Well, if Phong Hong does not know how to go about it she can click the link to this one here…and there are a few others in my blog as well where I had featured a step-by-step guide to cooking Sarawak laksa.

I packed everything in a box and sent it to Phong Hong the very next day…and here’s a bit of good news. I received an sms from her a little after noon the following day after I had sent the parcel telling me that she had received it. Gee!!! As a matter of fact, I also sent a pack of sambal Sarawak laksa, the regular, to a friend in Banting, Selangor the day before and she too got it the very next day. Our national courier people can be quite efficient sometimes…when they want to. Double thumbs up, guys! Hehehehehe!!!

Happy trying, Phong Hong! Hope you like the goodies from Sarawak!

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

9 thoughts on “Back to black…”

  1. How nice of you! Thank you so much for sharing.

    I do enjoy giving…just that if I have to send to the other side of the country, the postal charges are rather steep – at times, A LOT more than the cost of the contents. Otherwise, I would love to keep sending stuff to friends all over.

  2. I’ve never tried this masak hitam. I did try a black curry in Myanmar which was very nice, but I don’t know how they got it black.

    Many of those in the peninsula have not heard of it, much less tried it. When I was in the UK for a short in-service course in the 90’s, I cooked it for my friends and at first, they all thought it was ayam masak kicap (chicken cooked in soy sauce) and they all laughed at the name, they had only heard of masak merah before that, but when they tried it, they all wanted the recipe.

  3. Yes, also my favourite brand. Had been ages since I last cook masak hitam. To me, it taste a bit like our pak lor ark. Gonna see whether I can find it in Kuching.

    I guess there’s soy sauce plus a whole lot of spices in both. Wouldn’t say they’re exactly the same, no raisins in lor ark, and I love both!

  4. I’ve not seen this before. Thanks for the introduction. 🙂

    I do recall seeing it at some hotel buffets in some blog, and ayam pansuh too (chicken cooked in bamboo). Don’t think these are that easily available in the shops. At best, there are Sarawak laksa, Kuching kolo mee and Sibu kampua mee at some places in the city.

  5. Looking forward to see Phong Hong post about it… hehe…

    Hopefully she’ll do it, dunno if she will or not. It’s all up to her.

  6. haahahaa…. those who know PH are now waiting to see her posts! Happy Cooking, Phong Hong… make us drool…..

    You know her personally? Met in person before? See how it turns out – Elin’s looked really good.

  7. I find that the Masak hitam at colorful cafe is particularly good! Have u checked them out?

    That’s the second link in the above post, the one that I said is selling it by the kilo. Very nice, indeed. I go there very regularly but I do not blog about it anymore, too many posts on the place already.

  8. hee..hee…hee…good fortune shines upon me! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thank you again for the masak hitam and laksa pastes. I can’t wait to get started this weekend since it’s the long labor day weekend 🙂

    Hope it turns out really good. My girl is looking forward to the long weekend too – one extra day at home.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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