Blowfish bliss: Lachau town puffs up culinary game with exotic pufferfish roe (Travelogue Day 1)

Basket of pufferfish roe that is left drying under the sun.

By D’Drift Team

BINTULU, March 11: Despite the pufferfish’s widely known toxicity for consumption, in Lachau, its roe undergoes the process of sun-drying and emerges as an unusual delicacy sought after by many.

It easily became one of the D’Drift Team’s exotic discoveries of the day. We stumbled upon baskets of fish roes left under the sun to dry and were told by the seller that they were, in fact, pufferfish roes, locally known as ‘telur buntal’.

“It’s properly cleaned, so there’s no worry about it being harmful to eat. The roe is usually fried before eaten,” she said, explaining its salty taste, similar to that of salted eggs.

Among the other local delights was the ‘lanyeh janik’ (lard), which was a distinctive find in the local produce market. It tempted taste buds at RM15 per container.

“It is usually crispy, but not this. I didn’t cook it for too long so it could retain its succulence,” said the stall owner, who, much to our amusement, is an avid reader of DayakDaily.

‘Lanyeh janik’ beckoning food enthusiasts at RM15 per container.

The market brims with a vibrant array of fresh local produce. Particularly noteworthy are the ‘tampoi’ and the ‘ucung’ fruit, seasonal delights that captivate visitors with their exotic allure.

Other specialities, like a diverse selection of ‘salai’ (smoked) fish, offer an array of flavours and can be cooked through different culinary methods.

“Salai is usually cooked in soup, along with the ‘terung asam’ to make the dish more appetising,” the seller who was tending to the stall told the D’Drift Team today.

Seasonal delights: tampoi (left) and ucung (right) for sale at the Lachau market.

Rain and shine on the first day of D’Drift 2024

The weather had been fickle ever since the team’s departure from the DayakDaily office, only beginning to show clear skies four hours into the trip.

The D’Drift 2024 was flagged off by Sarawak Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry, and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Dahman Hamzah at the DayakDaily office at TT3 Plaza, Kuching, at 9:20 a.m.

This was the first day of the 10-day D’Drift 2024 trip, DayakDaily’s annual event, where its journalists travel across Sarawak to do travelogues while highlighting local happenings.

After visiting the Lachau market, we stopped for lunch at Lachau Food Corner, a charming spot that offered a somewhat peculiar sight—a medium-sized soy sauce bottle placed at every table, a distinctive touch that deviated from the usual urban dining experience.

Despite the abundance of offerings the rustic town had to offer, our time there was regrettably brief as we pressed onward to Bintulu, compelled by the demands of our itinerary.

A long journey stretched out before us as we continued along the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway. Yet, despite the fatigue settling in from the hours spent on the road, our spirits were lifted by the captivating sights that unravelled across the landscape, offering moments of respite amidst the journey.

A captivating scene of skies and palms along the Pan Borneo highway.

Sadly, the photo falls short of capturing the true essence of the scenery along the highway, as it is an experience best savoured firsthand.

Arriving in Bintulu at 6.30pm, having covered 514km over the course of nine hours since our flag off from Kuching, our day’s journey is concluded by seeking a night’s rest. — DayakDaily