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Pusas, tapas, sakana, anju: food that goes well with alcohol

Pusas is commonly known in Sabah as any food that accompanies your alcoholic drinks.

Personally, my favourite pusas are cheesy tofu and fried chicken wings when it comes to light beers. If it is dark beer like Guinness or Kilkenny, I prefer something salty and light like salted peanuts or potato chips.

Meanwhile other cultures such as Spain, South Korea and Japan, also have their own terms referring to food or tidbits served as an accompaniment to alcohol.

So, let us explore the different kinds of pusas, tapas, sakana or anju:
Do you like a full meal with your beer or just some snacks?
Pusas (East Malaysian state of Sabah)

First of all, can we all agree that different kinds of alcohol need different types of pusas or food to go with?

For something light or a local favourite during celebrations, there is fried anchovies with salted peanuts.

The easiest way to make this snack is to fry the anchovies and peanuts separately till they are both equally crunchy. Then mix them together while seasoning them with salt.

Another favourite pusas found in Sabah is none other than sinalau bakas. It is basically smoked wild boar cut into strips and washes down easily with beer.

Basically, there are plenty of pusas out there to choose from. But in the Malaysian regions of Borneo, pork dishes are usually nominated as the representative of all pusas.

Tapas (Spain)

Tapas actually refer to appetisers or snacks in Spanish cuisine. From food meant to be served in small sizes, tapas has evolved and become known as food that goes with alcohol as they are often served in bars.

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Some of the common Spanish tapas are olives, meatballs, salted cod loin, slow-cooked beef and fried tiny squid.

How about some olives to go with your dark beer?
Sakana (Japan)

Just like pusas, sakana is a Japanese term referring to food eaten as an accompaniment to alcohol.

The common sakana are yakitori (grilled skewers of chicken meat and parts), kushiage (deep-fried skewers of meat or vegetables) and sashimi (raw fish).

As for sakana, the most popular that goes with sake are any roe fish and shiokara (fermented and salted squid innards).

Meanwhile, edamame (salted and boiled soybean pods) and nankotsu (chicken cartilage) make the perfect pairings with beer.

Choose your sake to go with your meal.
Anju (South Korea)
Korean soju and the different kinds of anju.

If you’ve watched enough Korean dramas, then you might notice the different parings of anju to different kinds of alcohol.

For soju, it goes best with samgyeopsal or grilled pork belly. The clear and neat taste of soju somehow cuts down the greasiness of the pork belly taste in your mouth.

Since South Korea is home for all kinds of seasoned chicken, there are plenty of choices of which one to accompany your alcohol. These flavourful fried chicken make the perfect pair with beer.

Another common pairing of anju and alcoholic drink you might see in Korean dramas is pajeon (Korean pancake) and makgeolli (Korean white-coloured rice wine).

Share with us in the comment box what are your favourite food or snacks to go with your alcoholic drinks.

All photos credit to

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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