Naturalist Nigel Marven and chef Anis Nabilah explored one of Malaysia’s most treasured places, the Kinabatangan River in the third episode of the Asian Food Channel television show, Eating Wild. The hosts learned how the Malaysian palm oil industry, the tourism industry and the local people are working together to preserve the habitat that many animals call home. Inspired by the beauty and bountiful wildlife, Nabilah prepared two Filipino dishes with ingredients fresh from the wild.

The Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah’s “Gift to the Earth”, is fully protected

The hosts began their Kinabatangan River adventure with wildlife guide, photographer and naturalist, Cede Prudente. Ornithologist Marven spotted several birds along a short stretch of the river, including a colorful stork-billed kingfisher, white-chested babbler, lesser fish eagle and a wrinkled hornbill. Prudente explained that the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is fully protected. “That’s why we see so many things. What is happening now, those areas that were degraded are being replanted with trees.” The Malaysian palm oil industry is helping with the reforestation along the river, home to more 250 types of birds, 1,000 plant and 50 mammal species.

Pleased with the news, Marven commented, “These ecosystems are unique. They’re just as precious as the Mona Lisa or St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s great that they’re being protected for future generations.”

After the river adventure, Nabilah prepared sinanglay with crab stuffing in her outdoor kitchen on the river’s banks. She heated Malaysian sustainable palm oil to sauté garlic, onion, crab and tapioca leaves for the savory filling, commenting about the oil’s health benefits: “It reduces the bad cholesterol in your blood and increases the good cholesterol.” Nabilah also fried the stuffed fish in the light oil known for its high smoke point.

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The local palm oil plantation uses eco-friendly and sustainable agricultural practices

An evening safari revealed more of the river’s abundant wildlife such as a barn owl, petite kingfisher and a mangrove snake. Barn owls, known for their excellent hearing and night vision, are protected on Malaysian palm oil plantations.

Back in the kitchen, Nabilah prepared carmelized turon. She rolled sliced plantain and jackfruit in a spring roll wrapper, then fried the Filipino dessert in Malaysian sustainable palm oil. ”Palm oil is a favorite in my kitchen,” Nabilah said, “It protects your heart and supports healthy lungs and liver.” The wholesome oil is a rich source of vitamin E tocotrienols.

The Asian Food Channel
The Asian Food Channel (AFC) is the leading food and lifestyle broadcaster in Asia, broadcasting in 13 territories including Hong Kong, Malaysia, China and the Philippines. The channel is owned by Scripps Networks Interactive which also owns U.S. favorites, the Travel Channel and Food Network. AFC is the first food TV channel to broadcast pan-regionally in Asia.

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