Kolo mee, bak kut teh declared as national heritage dishes among eight others

A collage photo of Sarawak kolo mee.

KUCHING, Feb 24: Kolo mee and bak kut teh have been officially declared as national heritage objects by Heritage Commissioner Mohamad Muda Bahadin on Friday (Feb 23), along with eight other iconic food items.

The announcement of the Declaration of Heritage Object 2024, dated Feb 16, 2024, was published in the Government Gazzetted yesterday.

The declaration, under the National Heritage Act 2005, also list staple foods such as burasak and nasi ambeng; traditional kueh like dodol kukus tahi minyak, kuih genggang/kuih lapis, kuih karas, and uthappam; as well as the appetiser jeruk tuhau and the drink air katira as heritage objects.

Kolo mee, renowned as one of Sarawak’s signature dishes, is a delectable noodle dish typically enjoyed for breakfast.

Topped with minced meat, succulent barbecued pork, spring onions, and fried onions, this Chinese delicacy has garnered widespread popularity, leading to the creation of a Halal version, often served with beef or chicken and accompanied by fragrant fried shallots, spring onions, and a bowl of rich beef or chicken soup.

The list of food items recognised as national heritage dishes published in the Government Gazette.

According to FMT in a news report, bak kut teh, a pork rib soup infused with aromatic herbs and spices, holds a special place in the hearts of the Chinese community.

Originating from the Hokkien community in Port Klang, it was initially consumed as a nourishing tonic by labourers and coolies in the early 19th century.

Last year, the proposal to include bak kut teh as one of Malaysia’s heritage dishes by Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Dato Sri Tiong King Sing, sparked a lively debate.

Several quarters questioned whether a dish traditionally made with pork should be recommended as a Malaysian heritage dish, considering that some communities in Malaysia do not consume it.

However, over time, similar to kolo mee, bak kut teh has been recreated with halal versions, incorporating chicken, seafood, and mutton.

The Heritage Department, as reported by FMT, has previously honored other famous foods, including nasi lemak, laksa, chili crab, and Penang char kuey teow. — DayakDaily