National dish of Brunei
To make ambuyat: Mix sago with 4 cups of water and soak for 10 minutes. Drain off the water and pour sago into a heat proof container. Pour freshly boiled hot water over it. Mix well until the sago looks clear and of gummy consistency.
Clean the fish and cut into 5 slices. Place into a saucepan together with other ingredients B. Stir well until cooked.
Heat oil in a wok and stir fry the pounded ingredients until fragrant. Stir in the paku shoots. Add salt and 1/2 cup of water. Cook until soft.
Ambuyat is a traditional dish of Brunei, which is prepared from sago or starch derived from rumbia palm. The dish looks similar to a viscous porridge and tastes mild. The dish is considered to be a well-balanced meal, which is rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, but, low in salt and oil. Ambuyat is a filling dish and is mostly eaten at the lunch time.
There are many stories associated with the origin of Brunei’s national dish, Ambuyat. According to one of them, Ibans, the branch people of Dayaks of Borneo, used to look out for edible maggots and once when they were cutting rumbia palm, they came across the starch dripping from the maggot. On tasting, they found it delicious and thus brought the entire trunk to be shared with the villagers. Gradually, the sago was prepared by adding warm water. The chopsticks which are used to eat Ambuyat, known as candas, are also said to be invented by Ibans. As per second school of thought, Ambuyat came into existence at the time of Second World War. Sago became a staple diet during this time due to the short supply of food. This origin of Ambuyat is contradicted by many as the dish is considered to be more than 800 year old. This sago dish has its description as a food of Brunei in Chinese Zhu Fan Zhi (Records of Foreign countries) written by Zhao Rukhao.
For the preparation of Ambuyat, the ingredients which are required are sago rumbia, boiled hot water, and water at room temperature. The sago or starch is mixed with water and soaked for 10-15 minutes. Once done, water is drained off and the sago is transferred to heat proof vessel. Boiled water is added to it and mixed well until the starch reaches thick and gummy consistency.
Ambuyat is usually accompanied with dips which are made from local fruits of Brunei. Pidada and fermented shrimps are mostly used to prepare these dips. The dips are sour in taste and chilies are added to make them spicier. Pais Daging is usually served with Ambuyat and consists of cooked meat wrapped in banana leaves. Ambuyat is twisted around a pair of adjoined bamboo chopsticks, also known as Candas and eaten. The dish tastes best when served hot.
Presently, there is just one factory that deals with the extraction of starch. It is based in Ukong, Tutong and the starch extraction is all done through highly mechanized ways but the preparation of Ambuyat remains the same.