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Sabah traditional food: Strange but delicious

KOTA KINABALU – Local Sabahan cuisines do not taste as strange as some of them look.

They are, in fact, delicious if you try them with an open mind and are prepared to experience something different on your taste buds.

Chef Alban Korom, 35, said because of the gradual loss of interest among youth in traditional cuisines, he wanted to introduce fusion food for the younger generation, and people of all races.

“We live in a multi-ethic state and not everyone can appreciate each other’s traditional cuisine,” he said when met at the Sabah Cultural Food Festival organised by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Penampang near here.

It ia easier for everyone to accept each other’s traditional dishes such as Bambagan (picked forest fruit), tuhau (wild ginger), or lousun (a dish made with torch ginger flower, salted fish, white chilli, and onion leaves) if they are prepared creatively.

Pinansakan or steamed fish served with sago.Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

Alban said some of these food had strong smell, while others were either bland or sour.

“So when preparing these food, we mostly add salt or sugar according to a person’s liking,” he explained.

He said there were many fusion dishes that could be created from the traditional food.

“We have to be creative and try to incorporate these traditional flavours into modern cuisine. With enough trials, we will be able to revive local dishes into our everyday menus,” Alban said.

Meanwhile, a family of chefs Maurice Lojimin, 65, his wife Haslinah Bilog, 53, and their daughter Rosmawati, 39, are calling for all who have yet to sample any form of traditional cuisine to do so.

Haslinah (right) and her daughter Rosmahwati Moris showing their linopod rice prepared for the event.​Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

“Local dishes such as rebung tuntul (bamboo shoots with river snail), pinarasakan turungou (steamed freshwater fish) and jantung pisang (banana blossom) are commonly eaten by the native Dusun people,” said Haslinah.

She said the dishes enjoyed mostly by the Dusun Liwan people of Ranau were normally eaten as side dishes with rice or linopod (brown rice steamed in tarap leaves).

“These food look strange but they are very delicious,” she said adding that these food were also enjoyed by most native Kadazandusun and Murut people.

“We want to introduce traditional food and its preparation methods to the public, especially the youths because we see that many are not aware of traditional food and how to prepare them,” she added.

Haslinah attributed the waning interest in traditional food among youth partly to modernisation.

Some of Sabah traditional dishes on display at the festival.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

“Maybe they do not have time to learn about traditional food but it is very sad to see the glory of these food disappearing,” she said.

Haslinah said in the past, the ingredients needed for local cuisines were easier to get nowadays than in the past.

“Last time, we have to go into jungles and rivers to look for the ingredients. Now they are available at any tamu (weekly market) in Sabah,” she added.

The four-day food festival which ends today also features other types of food and beverage including durian and ginger infused brown sugar, Acasia honey and contemporary Asian and western cuisines.

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Published at Sat, 29 Jul 2017 03:00:00 +0000