Sago Worms

Sago Worms - Koposizon Homestay, Sabah Borneo 20090701 03

Not something that you will find in a normal restaurant in Borneo but the sago worm is a delicacy eaten by some indgenous groups in Borneo. It is especially famous among the Kadazandusun in Sabah, and the Melanau in Sarawak. However, it is not exclusive to Borneo, as it is also eaten by the people of New Guinea and Ecuador.

The sago worm, or sago grub, is the larvae of the Sago Palm Weevil. The sago palm tree is chopped down and the trunk is left to rot. After a few weeks, stripping off the bark and breaking open the trunk reveals dozens of palm weevils and their larvae. The larvae feeds on the starch of the sago palm. The adults are reddish-brown in colour with a snout and are smaller than the larvae.

Koposizon - 20090701 02

The larvae are then collected to be eaten. You can either eat it raw or  cook it first. I tried both. First, we washed the larvae to clean it from the sago palm. The rotting palm stinks a bit, but the larvae itself has no smell. As you can see from the pictures, the larvae is creamy white and looks like a fat worm. It has a small, brown head that is hard and cannot be eaten. So, hold the larvae’s fat body, and then twist off the head. Throw away the inner parts of the larvae by flinging it away. It can be eaten, but it doesn’t taste nice. The larvae can then be eaten. It has been described as tasting like chicken or beef, but to me, there was no taste. It just felt kind of chewy, like eating mussels.

Sago Worms - Koposizon Homestay, Sabah Borneo- 20090701 04

If eating raw larvae is too much for you, you can taste the ones that have been fried. Just heat the wok and put the larvae in and add in some salt. You don’t need oil, as the sago worm has plenty of oil in its body. In fact, as the wok gets hotter, the worms sometimes explode from the oil that bubbles out of their body. Even after frying it, it still doesn’t taste like meat. Someone described it as tasting like mushy corn. To make it even more delicious, you can add onion and other stuff.

Sago Worms - Koposizon Homestay, Sabah Borneo - 20090701 05

Well, at least it’s good for you. The sago worm is said to contain more iron and vitamin B than beef or chicken, and it was a good source of protein for the local people who eat sago starch as their main food since the starch is almost all carbohydrate only.



  1. Anak Sarawak said,

    December 4, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    Well said, let’s do it…….???????

  2. Toan Lam said,

    April 22, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    In Vietnam, we place the worms on one end of a sugar cane and let them eat through the cane. They come out of the other end plumb, sweet and clean. We then coat them in battered egg, roll them in flour and deep fry them in butter. It is crunchy in the outside, creamy and buttery in the inside.

    • losttraveller said,

      April 22, 2011 at 7:48 AM

      mmm, sounds more delicious than the Borneo version. Must try…

  3. Mine Thinker said,

    June 17, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    you wanna try ????!

  4. Mine Thinker said,

    June 17, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    Kak Sue….
    apakah ini ? 🙂

  5. aree said,

    December 2, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    I live in Thailand, sales sago worm 15 $/Kg , please connect me at or mobile:+66 089-7254364

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