Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pinantung - Delicious, sticky Sabah indigenous treat from sago

PINANTUNG is a delicacy among the Kadazandusun and Tatana people who reside in Kuala Penyu, Sabah, but it is also one of Brunei’s iconic traditional fare, where it is known as ambuyat.

It is sometimes referred to as nantung or nontung.

Pinantung is made from sago, a plant so abundant in the district of Kuala Penyu that an annual festival is held to honour its socio-economic contributions to the community.

At first glance, the dish does not seem much — just a gluey, thickened web of sago in a bowl, which is why pinantung is enjoyed with a variety of dishes, from sour to extra spicy.

A bite-sized amount of sago paste is skilfully twirled on a pair of chopsticks and dipped into the condiment or dish laid before you, be it ikan asam pedas gravy or the more traditional bambangan (a local mango) gravy.

It can also be enjoyed with a variety of spicy, salty and sour dishes, including another local favourite pinasakan (fish braised and boiled in a special broth using ingredients with fermenting qualities, hence it can be eaten several days after it is prepared).

An important tip when eating pinantung is that one should just swallow it and don’t chew.

While it is not commonly found at regular coffee shops and restaurants in Sabah, there are a few places that offer pinantung on the menu.

Look for restaurants that specialise in authentic Sabahan fare such as D’Place in Kepayan Perdana or even Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu; one of the few hotels and resorts that have taken the initiative to introduce traditional dishes through their Tampatan menu.