Another traditional local dish that you should try when you’re in Sabah is the Hinava,which originated from the Kadazan Dusun tribes. This dish consists of raw fish marinated with lime juice, which is mixed together with a variety of seasoning such as salt, red chilli, slice shallot and ginger. Think of it like eating sushi!
This can best be described as a fish salad like ceviche or yee sang. Thin slices of fish, most often tenggiri or mackerel, are tossed in a variation or mixture of the following: chilli, ginger, shallots, bitter gourd, and most importantly, lime dressing.
The acidity in the lime “cooks the fish” and turns the flesh a beautiful milky white colour.
Other seafood like prawns and squid can be used but is 99 per cent always fish. It generally has a very short shelf life and has to be eaten within a few hours or a day or two if refrigerated.
Some eat it as an appetiser, but it is also commonly served as a main dish with rice.
While it used to be eaten during festive occasions only, hinava can be found in some local restaurants specialising in Sabah dishes and sometimes even hotel restaurants.