PINASAKAN is a Kadazandusun dish created for a specific purpose; to withstand the long travel from coastal towns to their homes deeper into the jungle. The Kadazandusun tribes would come to the towns to trade for salt, fresh fish and sugar to exchange with fresh vegetables, assortments of jungle products and tobacco.
With fish being one of the staple foods in their diet, they had to carry the fishes in baskets made from rattan and bamboo called “wakid”. To prevent the fishes from going bad, the solution was to preserve them through cooking. Thus, Pinasakan was born!
To preserve it for long journeys, moisture had to be extracted from the fish. Ikan basung, a fish common to Sabahans, was chosen as its natural oily properties make it the perfect choice for preservation purposes.
The prepare the dish, the fish is cleaned and cooked under low heat. Ingredients like turmeric, ginger, asam keping, lemongrass, cili padi and salt are added into the mix. Due to the fish’s oily properties and the low heat, the dish was cooked for about an hour with only enough moisture extracted, making it able to be kept for a very long time even without refrigeration.
Although this dish is no longer made to preserve ingredients for long journeys, it is still a very popular dish in Sabah, and we at Fork would love to get our hands on this beautiful piece of culinary ingenuity!