Chilli lovers of Malaysia, rejoice! Sabah’s ‘secret sauce’, the ‘Momporok’ chilli, is now available nationwide in the form of Sabasco for you to enjoy.
The Momporok chilli is so called because, in the Dusun language, it means the ‘bulbul’ bird’s chilli.
According to the Dusun tribe, the spread of these chillies was assisted by bulbul birds, which are attracted to the chillies when they’re ripe-red. They eat them and disperse the seeds all over their region of residence, and over time, the chillies in the area develop a singular set of characteristics, aroma and taste.
The Sabasco brand of chilli sauce is produced by East Malaysian fast-food chain SugarBun, a subsidiary of Borneo Oil Berhad (BornOil).
“In Sabah, the Momporok chilli sauce is always placed at the centre of the table in every coffeeshop,” says BornOil executive director Raymond Teo.
What’s special about the Sabasco version of Sabah’s beloved Momporok chilli sauce, however, is where it comes from.
A town on the East Coast of Sabah, Kunak, has a geographical makeup of volcanic soils rich in nutrients and the resident ‘bulbul’ birds. The chilli thrives in Kunak, and its aroma and spice are intensely concentrated and distinctive. Over the decades, this breed of Momporok chilli in Kunak has been cultivated by local micro-farmers who stick to growing only this breed.
“In Kunak, the (chilli) fruits are allowed more time to mature with minimal intervention to spread their growth. Due to this, the result is a much more concentrated fruit. Tiny, red and upright; it is powerful in its spice and fragrance. Its uniqueness surpasses mass-planted chillies in adjacent regions. Each chilli fruit is hand-selected to ensure freshness and quality,” Teo explains.
Through the production of Sabasco, SugarBun hopes to share the Momporok chilli’s story, support the Kunak farming industry, create local jobs, and bring ‘growing’ back closer to nature. Sabasco, according to Teo, is grown, nurtured, harvested, prepared, and bottled locally.
“This is a chilli sauce close to our hearts. This is the chilli we grew up eating. This is the chilli for our homes, our friends, and family. And now, we’re bringing it to the rest of Malaysia.”
East Malaysians will find SugarBun a familiar name. The chain established itself in Kuching, Sarawak back in the early 80s as a bakery and ice creamery. It had also branched out to selling burgers, broasted chicken and popcorn, establishing itself as a cinema concessionaire.
Following the buyout by BornOil in the early 1990s, SugarBun introduced several Asian dishes, turning itself into a fusion food outlet chain. Today, other than its signature broasted chicken and fish burgers, SugarBun’s outlets also offer Sarawak laksa, Sabah giant garoupa fish meehoon soup, various other claypot dishes, pizza, and of course, to top them all off, Sabasco chilli sauce.
Sabasco Chilli Sauce comes in both ‘original’ and ‘sweet and spicy’ flavours, and can be bought online from www.sabasco.com or from Shopee, and is available at all SugarBun, Borneo Asian Food, and Broasted outlets nationwide, as well as Pezzo outlets in East Malaysia. Wholesalers are welcome to make enquiries by calling +6016-830-0016 or emailing [email protected] .