Dish­ful of cul­tural in­sights

Food pro­vides tasty way for vis­i­tors to learn about the Kadazan­dusun

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Malaysia Day - By RUBEN SARIO metro@th­es­tar.com.my

CUI­SINE is of­ten a gate­way to an eth­nic group’s cul­ture.

The food is def­i­nitely the high­light for vis­i­tors to the decades-old cul­tural cen­tre along the banks of Moyog River in Pe­nam­pang, near Kota Kinabalu, which has en­abled vis­i­tors to Sabah to ex­pe­ri­ence the Kadazan­dusun cul­ture.

For Mon­sopiad Her­itage Vil­lage guide Ly­dia Ju­mat, shar­ing and ex­plain­ing to lo­cal and for­eign vis­i­tors the dishes that she is so fa­mil­iar with, is all part of the renowned Malaysian hos­pi­tal­ity.

“What bet­ter way of let­ting oth­ers know about what we are as a coun­try than through our food?” said Ly­dia, whose mother Ber­nadette Dul­lah pre­pares the food at the Vil­lage.

Vis­i­tors to the cul­tural cen­tre also learn about the old ways of life such as start­ing a fire by rub­bing two pieces of wood and hunt­ing with a blow­pipe, be­sides tak­ing part in the sumazau and other tra­di­tional dances.

Ly­dia said Kadazan­dusun cui­sine was about us­ing the freshest in­gre­di­ents and keep­ing the dishes sim­ple.

“For ex­am­ple, the lo­sun, which is a type of spring onion, is stir-fried with an­chovies, torch­flower and white chill­ies to make a de­li­cious dish,” she said.

She said an­other tra­di­tional dish served there was pinasakan --a dish made with fish like sar­dines or mack­erel that is boiled with gin­ger, tumeric, lemon­grass, onions, to­ma­toes and gar­lic.

Ber­nadette said an­other method of cook­ing th­ese types of fish is to sim­ply mar­i­nate them with salt and turmeric be­fore fry­ing them and served as a dish called sada gin­ur­ing.

The ac­com­pa­ny­ing condi­ments for the fried fish are lo­cal pick­les such as jeruk bam­ban­gan (a type of wild mango) and tuhau (a va­ri­ety of wild gin­ger).

Ac­cord­ing to Ber­nadette, the most pop­u­lar Kadazan­dusun dish is a broth made from free-range chicken and win­ter melon.

A “good mea­sure” of li­hing or rice wine is added as an op­tion.

To round off the meal is linopot or rice cooked with yam wrapped in leaves.

To most vis­i­tors, this meal is ex­otic but it pales in com­par­i­son when they are served with live wrig­gling lar­vae of the sago tree bee­tle lo­cally known as bu­tod.

“Most peo­ple will be squea­mish just to even touch the lar­vae but there have been a few who have ac­tu­ally swal­lowed the bu­tod live,” said Ly­dia.

“The feed­back is that the bu­tod tastes like a very moist piece of cheese,” she said with a laugh, ac­knowl­edg­ing that she had yet got­ten around to tast­ing it her­self.

Whether it is some­thing ex­otic like the bu­tod or more mun­dane such as li­hing chicken soup, Kadazan­dusun cui­sine is get­ting known in­ter­na­tion­ally thanks to the ven­er­a­ble Malaysian cus­tom of be­ing hos­pitable.

Sada Gin­ur­ing or fried sar­dines is one of the tra­di­tional dishes served up in Mon­sopiad Cul­tural Vil­lage in Pe­nam­pang.

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