Thursday, May 24, 2007



This is a probably the most famous dish of the Kadazans, the largest indigeneous group in Sabah. I've never made it until tonight and it turned out great! It's so easy to make too. Years ago when I was working in a bank, a hinava competition was held during the Kaamatan Festival (rice harvest festival) and I can't remember whether Dolly or Francesca's entry won but I took down both recipes so one of them mustn't been the winning entry, the other my pick. I've combined the two and given the credit to both.

Dolly and Francesca's Hinava

1 kilo king mackerel fillet, skin on & cut into strips or small cubes
juice from 10 limes
3 to 4 small red shallots, sliced or chopped finely
1 T finely julienned ginger
2 large chilies, cut into fine strips
4 to 6 small chilies, cut finely
bittergourd, cut into very thin short slices & mixed with salt 15 minutes
'bambangan' seed, grated (optional)

1. There are 3 ways to prepare the fish:

a) Pour boiling water over fish in a bowl and drain well. Probably the best way.
b) Put fish into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds and drain well. I did this tonight and the fish turned out a little coarse because it was cooked through and it broke up easily. Some people serve hinava mashed up. Yuks.
c) This is probably the most authentic way: steep the fish in the lime juice for 10 minutes. However, you'll need lots of lime juice. The citric acid will 'cook' the fish on the outside but leave the inside raw, giving it a smoother texture and a slightly chewier bite. I like this but will only attempt this with an absolutely fresh fish. Hubby will have to go fishing...

2. Wash the salted bittergourd twice with plenty of water to remove the bitterness and some of the salt. It should still taste slightly bitter and saltish.

3. Mix the fish with the lime juice and leave 10 minutes.

4. Mix everything together (using hands so the fish doesn't flake too much) and add more salt and lime juice to your liking. If you run out of lime juice by now, use rice or sushi vinegar.

5. Chill in fridge till ready to eat.

This may be an acquired-taste dish. Ming loves it but Wey wouldn't touch it.
This is like a raw fish salad so it goes with something stronger, like a curry or something deep-fried. You'll find this dish in 5-stars hotels here this time of the year because the Kaamatan is celebrated end of May. You won't be able to get the bambangan (a brown-colored fruit that looks like the mango inside but is very fibrous and pungent)anywhere but here and omitting it is okay too.
*I find that traditionally hinava is always made in a fish:bittergourd ratio of 90:10. However, we like it about 70:30 so its really up to you. In the pic above, I took away some of the veg to make it more authentic-looking...


ngiley said...

i'm hungry .. i really want to eat hinava now ..

hinava .. where are you..

Doria Tai said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe, I want to try this !

Doria Tai said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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