Sarawakian Localights: DAGU or the Jowl

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When one visits the long house for a gawai or a celebration a pig or two might be slaughtered for the feasting and to welcome visitors. It can be for a wedding or the welcoming of a new politician.

Now one hidden secret of pork connoisseur is the jowl, or the lower jaw flesh of the pork face or head. The Ibans in the longhouses would give the pig head to the team which slaughters the pig and a bbq would already be set up by the river side after the pig has been slaughtered. The river bank, especially if there is a pebble beach is an ideal place for slaughtering of animals, as the river water would conveniently wash away all the unwanted parts and clean the meat.

The jowl is similar to belly pork and once it is well marinated with salt and pepper for more than 12 hours, it can be roasted either in the oven (250 degrees) or over the slow embers of an open fire.

It is very delicious when sliced thinly and served with rice and other jungle vegetables.

The Foochows love the dagu also and usually have it braised in soy sauce, or what other dialectic groups call, Pak Lo, with lots of garlic and 5 spices. In the 1950’s and 60’s the wharf labourers of Sibu often enjoyed having a cheap meal of slices of jowl with their white rice and lots of soy sauce. In the evenings when all the wharf labourers had gone home, the hawker selling the economy rice would “lelong” the left over meats to people who like to buy the cold slices. A family would have a good meal with only 3 dollars’ worth of dagu, all chopped up by the sharp cleaver of the vendor.

Today in most western countries’ supermarkets the dagu or the jowl is sold in the fresh meat department or in the bacon section.

By Changyi, Agape Grace Preaching Centre, Miri
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