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Sayang Sabah - The voice of Sabahans

Tourism Trivia-Tutumbakon

The Tutumbakon looks a lot like this
The Tutumbakon looks a lot like this

Tutumbakon is a type of worm found in the sand on the coastal area of Sabah. It looks like a huge earthworm that tunnel through the sand instead of soil. So it is a sandy creature. It can be about ten inches long and as huge as an adult thumb in thickness.

The Kadazandusuns of Sabah call it Tutumbakon, which implies that it is caught by using tumbak, a type of spade that one plunge in very fast into the sand and scoop out before it wriggles away.

This earthworm or rather sandworm is edible and considered a delicacy by some people. I have seen these creatures eaten raw. The sand is washed off the body, and the stomach is pushed to one end, and the top cut off. The blood is then poured into the mouth and then the worm is set aside to be cleaned and later eaten with dip such as lime and chilli.

There are a few ways to render the worm edible though. Initially, it is cut in two and then turned inside out to clean out the sand inside it. It is washed properly and then eaten raw with lime. Or one can fry it with a bit of oil, onions and garlic. It can also be boiled with a little water where the water will turn milky. Some people cut it into pieces and cook it in rice porridge.

Personally I have not seen this delicacy for a long time, but there are times when it crops up in the buckets of sellers in Tamu like Dongonggon Township, Penampang.

The dish is an acquired taste, and I have not seen it promoted in homestays yet.- Sayangsabah

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