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 Cocktails & Other Recipes with Lihing

All our recipes and cocktails have been tried out here in Sabah... these are not exactly traditional Sabah recipes though, rather a fusion of styles with a variety of ingredients. Let yourself be inspired! 




Lihing is excellent in drinks and mixes very well with neutral alcohols such as white rum or vodka. Topped up with fruit juices and ice lihing makes for a ‘tribal’ long drink!

The Headhunter’s Cocktail

Pour 1 tot vodka and 2 tots lihing over ice in a long drink glass; top up with freshly pressed orange juice.

The Sumandak Cocktail

Pour 1 tot Malibu and 2 tots lihing over ice in a long drink glass; top up with mango juice

The Estate Party Punch

Dice apples, oranges, peaches, pears and/or other suitable fruits and macerate in vodka for one night in the fridge; some two hours before serving pour into punch bowl and add 2 liters iced rice wine and 2 liters mixed tropical fruit juice (or more, according to taste); leave in fridge undisturbed for two hours; before serving add ice cubes so that the punch is thoroughly chilled.

Cooking Recipes

Lihing is very much suitable for cooking. The Chinese use it extensively, and the local Dusun have a couple of recipes where rice wine must not be forgotten. Rice wine used in cooking is generally of the sweet kind and tends to give dishes a sweetish hint, which adds just that little exotic touch to meats and fish or seafood, but otherwise rice wine can be used very much like white wine in traditional western cuisine.

Drunken Chicken Soup (Sup Manuk Nansak Miampai Lihing)

This is a traditional soup for ladies in confinement, and normally a “village chicken,” a dark-meat chicken species which people in Borneo rear, is used in this simple but effective potion. A regular chicken will do the trick, too. As any chicken soup it is fortifying and not only for ladies after labour…:

Detail one whole village chicken and sauté meat, bones, feet and all in as little fat as possible; stir in half a cup sliced shallots; add half a cup coarsely sliced garlic and 2 inches cinnamon; stir on high fire until fragrant, then add one pint sweet lihing. Add up to three ounces of crushed fresh ginger (cleaned but not peeled). Bring to the boil and let alcohol evaporate, then add enough water to cover the chicken and ginger to yield soup for 8. Simmer for ten minutes, taste and add salt and pepper, and brown sugar if required. Let simmer for another five minutes or so, serve.

The soup can be heated the next day, it will only become tastier; one can add a glass of lihing just prior to serving.


Drunken River Prawns (Gipan Navuk)

Sabah has an abundance of seafood, and also some excellent freshwater prawns, lobsters and crabs. It is difficult to get river prawns – they are very small and only live in very clear rivers; small sea prawns can be used in this recipe as well, but they must be fresh, not frozen:

Clean prawns but leave in shell; prepare a court bouillon with 3 parts water and 1 part rice wine, finely chopped garlic and onion; add very sparingly some salt and bring to the boil, add prawns and simmer just long enough so that they turn red; add another glass of rice wine, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Careful: this soup makes drunk!


Dusun Sambal

Slice 4 large onions and sauté in enough fat until translucent; add half a cup sliced garlic and two inches belacan (prawn paste) and continue frying until the belacan is dissolved; add one tin (150 grms) tomato puree and fry over very hot fire stirring constantly; add one pint sweet lihing and bring to the boil, letting the alcohol evaporate; add one pack chilly boh (150 grms of dried chillies, soaked in water and blended thoroughly) and two spoons brown sugar. Stir and let simmer for a couple of minutes, then taste and add salt and pepper.

This sambal, a variant of the typical Malay sambal which obviously does not contain alcohol, is ideal with grilled aubergines, sautéed long beans and eggs, but also with noodles or rice.


Wild Boar Goulash (Goulash do Bakas)

This is a quick goulash, and the wild boar meat can be substituted for other meats but if you want to offer your friends that 'savage tribal goulash' from Sabah wild boar seems just right...

Ingredients (yields goulash for 15)

  • 1.5 kg of wild boar, diced
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • ½ cup of finely chopped garlic
  • 2 spoons ground red hot chillies
  • 150 grms tomato purée
  • 1 litre rice wine
  • 50 grms hot chillies paste
  • 150 grms cili boh (or 150 grms dried red chillies, soaked in water and thoroughly blended)
  • 4 large carrots, coarsely cut en julienne
  • 4 medium sized potatoes, diced
  • 1.5 litres beef or chicken broth
  • 150 champignons de Paris, sliced
  • 2 large eggplants, diced
  • cooking oil, brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste


  1. heat cooking oil in a deep cooking pot and stir fry diced meat until brown; remove from pan and put aside
  2. in the same cooking pot and remaining oil – add if necessary – sauté onions until translucent
  3. add half of the garlic, and the ground chillies, stir over hot fire
  4. stir in tomato purée and fry mixture over hot fire
  5. add rice wine, stir and let alcohol evaporate
  6. stir in chillies paste, cili boh and add pre-fired meat
  7. add vegetables and broth, mix and let simmer for 15 minutes
  8. add mushrooms and eggplants, simmer for another 30 minutes or until potatoes are done
  9. add brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste, eventually crème fraîche, yoghurt or cream

The brown sugar is mainly to take off the acidic edge of the tomato puree; if you fry the purée thoroughly (but don’t burn it!) you will have removed the acidity. If the goulash is too hot for your taste add crème fraîche, cream or yoghurt.

Wild Boar with Farmer's Mushroom Sauce

This is one of my personal favourites, wild boar in a heavy and coarse sauce rich in mushrooms and with a healthy portion of garlic. Not really a recipe for the tropics but nice during the rainy season:

Ingredients (for 15 diners)

  • 1.5 kg of wild boar, diced
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • ½ cup of finely chopped garlic
  • 100 grms champignons de Paris, sliced
  • 100 grms large straw mushrooms, sliced
  • 20 grms dried shitake mushrooms, well soaked and then sliced; reserve the soaking water
  • 100 grms fresh shitake mushrooms
  • 1 litre rice wine
  • ca 1 litre water plus shitake soaking water
  • 20 grms mustard
  • cooking oil, salt and pepper to taste

ingredients for a roux to thicken the sauce:

  • 100 grms butter
  • ca 50 grms flour


  1. prepare a roux: melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the flour; mix until all the butter is absorbed; add more flour if necessary and fry the mixture for a minute without browning; reserve for later
  2. heat cooking oil in a deep cooking pot and stir fry diced meat until brown; remove from pan and put aside
  3. in the same cooking pot and remaining oil – add if necessary – sauté onions until translucent
  4. add 3/4 of of the garlic and the sliced dried shitake mushrooms; stir fry over hot flame for a minute
  5. add the other mushrooms and stir fry for another minute
  6. add rice wine, stir and let alcohol evaporate
  7. add the water and the juice in which you have soaked the shitake mushrooms, plus some mustard and let simmer for a couple of minutes
  8. add pepper and salt to taste, then add the meat and the rest of the garlic; let simmer for five minutes
  9. add sufficient roux to make an unctuous sauce
  10. before serving add a sprinkle of pepper

This goes well with any type of pasta, or mashed potatoes. As vegetables I suggest beans, or young peas.

Tutumbakon (Sandworms)

This is a local speciality (do I have to elaborate?) and depending where you are you will probably have troubles getting the main ingredient for this one: sandworms! Rich in protein, and tasting a little bit like squid with a hint of iron they look a lot worse alive than in the plate, and definitively taste nice! Something like seafood...


Tutumbakon (sandworms), ginger, garlic, shallots, cooking oil, water, lihing, salt and pepper to taste


Clean the tutumbakon under water. Without the sand, they look like metallic hoses, becoming rigid at touch. Weird. Then you have to take them at both ends, and break them in the middle. Empty their blood - yes, the worms have red blood – into a bowl, and throw away their intestines full of sand. The tubes, for such they are, will continue to move, a strange sensation. With a stick turn them inside out. Now they look like miniature stocking. At this stage you can macerate them in lime juice and eat them raw, simply delicious...

Once you have cleaned the worms and cut them to size (if wished) fry some onions in a pan and add the garlic and ginger. There is no need to use a lot of oil. Then add some water, the blood and the worms in one go and bring to the boil. Simmer for five mintues. You will witness an interesting phenomenon: the soup turns whitish, as if santan (coconut milk) had been added. Just before serving add a glass of rice wine.

You will also be surprised by the delightful smell of the soup, though in the end the worms still look like worms in the broth...