Thursday, May 29, 2008

Living with the Melanau of Sarawak

FOR the Melanau community of Mukah, Sarawak, raw fish is not served with soya sauce and wasabi. Instead, it is sliced paper thin, and marinated with a whole lot of condiments like salt, shallots, chili and lime juice. One can eat it on its own but it’s best eaten with hot rice.

Umai, or “Melanau sushi”, is the staple food and pride of the Melanau community worldwide and they often boast that their version is tastier than that served by the Japanese.

The Melanau comprises folks of seafaring background. Till today, Mukah in Sarawak’s 10th division, is famous for fresh seafood and all things made of sago –– from biscuits to dessert, as well as sago worms which are eaten raw, stirfried with garlic and soya sauce or simply fried on its own.

The town may be small but it’s bustling with activities, especially the market area in the mornings when the boats come in with their catch.

Walking around Mukah is very safe because no one disturbs you and at night, it is relaxing to sit around in the open-air coffee shops sipping drinks, eating umai and watching the Melanau community go by.

What else does Mukah have to offer visitors?

Plenty, say the folks there. For a start, the Kala Dana beach is the venue for the annual Pesta Kaul Mukah. The Melanau fishing community celebrates this festival to mark the beginning of the fishing season after the monsoon ends. It is usually held in April.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Living with the Melanau of Sarawak

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