Discovering Ulat Sago: A Culinary and Cultural Delicacy of Malaysia

You are currently viewing Discovering Ulat Sago: A Culinary and Cultural Delicacy of Malaysia

Ulat Sago, also known as sago worms or larvae, is a traditional delicacy found in Malaysia and several other Southeast Asian countries. These larvae come from the red palm weevil and thrive in sago palms, which are abundant in the tropical regions of Malaysia. While the idea of eating worms might seem unconventional to some, Ulat Sago is deeply rooted in the culinary and cultural traditions of the indigenous communities.

What is Ulat Sago?

Ulat Sago are the larvae of the red palm weevil, a beetle that lays its eggs in the trunks of sago palms. When the larvae hatch, they feed on the soft fibers of the sago palm, growing to a size that makes them perfect for harvesting. These larvae are creamy white with a slightly firm texture, often compared to that of a plump caterpillar.

Nutritional Value

Despite their unusual appearance, Ulat Sago are packed with nutrients. They are a rich source of protein, fats, and essential amino acids, making them a valuable food source for indigenous populations. In many ways, they offer a sustainable alternative to conventional meat, especially in remote areas where other protein sources may be scarce.

Culinary Uses

In Malaysia, Ulat Sago is enjoyed in various ways. They can be eaten raw, which is said to provide a creamy and nutty flavor. However, they are more commonly cooked. One popular method is to roast them over an open flame, which brings out a crispy texture and a smoky taste. They can also be stir-fried with spices and vegetables, added to soups, or even deep-fried for a crunchy snack.

Cultural Significance

For many indigenous communities in Malaysia, particularly the Iban and Melanau people of Sarawak, Ulat Sago holds cultural significance. Harvesting these larvae is often part of traditional practices and celebrations. They are not only a food source but also play a role in rituals and community gatherings, symbolizing a connection to nature and ancestral heritage.


The harvesting of Ulat Sago is considered sustainable, as it involves utilizing the natural lifecycle of the sago palm and the red palm weevil. Unlike conventional livestock farming, which can have significant environmental impacts, harvesting sago worms requires minimal resources and supports biodiversity.

Ulat Sago is more than just an exotic food; it represents a rich cultural tradition and a sustainable food source in Malaysia. While it might take some getting used to for those unfamiliar with the concept, it is a testament to the diverse and resourceful ways humans interact with their natural environment. Whether enjoyed raw or cooked, Ulat Sago offers a unique culinary experience that is deeply intertwined with the cultural fabric of Malaysia

Article by Muhammad Ghani Rahman