Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Borneo Culinary Journey @ Gaya Island Resort, Malaysia + Recipe for Hinava

One of our favorite activities while we were holidaying at Gaya Island Resort was The Borneo Culinary Journey, whereby we got to learn how to make traditional Borneo/Sabahan dishes with the chef's guidance. We attended this 2 hour hands-on cooking class with our kids and they thoroughly enjoyed it.

The interactive cooking session takes place at Fisherman Cove restaurant's kitchen whereby we started off with introduction to ingredients for the two dishes that we were preparing that morning, with the chef explaining the spices and fresh produce to us. At these cooking sessions, guests have the opportunity to learn local family recipes from various ethnic groups and the session will end with a dining session, communal style with other participants.

Our instructor for the morning, Chef Miguel is personable, interesting and made our session very fun. He taught us two dishes, Hinava (a popular Sabah-style ceviche dish of Kadazan-dusun ethnic origin) and Piaren ah Manuk (chicken in grated coconut, a native dish of Iranun tribe in Kota Belud).

Chef Miguel shows us how to plate the dish, fine-dining style :)

With our supervision, both kids had fun mixing the ingredients for the hinava, blending the paste for the chicken dish, cooking the chicken dish and then plating the two dishes, fine-dining style with guidance from Chef Miguel.

The Borneo Culinary Journey is definitely a worthwhile experience, should you wish to learn more about the cuisine of the local ethnic groups. We certainly had a fun time - great for family bonding! :)

We get a certificate each at the end of the cooking session.. well done!


In this post, I will be sharing the recipe for the Hinava dish that we prepared during the cooking session. Hinava is a raw fish salad, often called a Sabah-style ceviche. For this dish, we used the Sabah chilli which is more fragrant. Since there is no cooking involved, use the freshest fish you can find. The fish is marinated in lime juice which will "cook" the fish (the citric acid causes the protein in the seafood to become denatured, the same way as heat does.)

Hinava is a very appetizing, refreshing salad, which is tangy and spicy, with a distinctive ginger taste. Love it!

Hinava Recipe
Recipe courtesy of YTL Hotels
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Serves 2

300g raw white fish, sliced thinly
120ml lime juice/vinegar
3-4 small red shallots, sliced or finely chopped
2 inch young ginger, julienned
5 green/red bird's eye chilli, finely chopped
Salt, to taste (1/8 tsp)
Sugar, to taste (1/8 tsp)

1. Place all ingredients in a small bowl or plastic container. Mix well and marinate for 10 mins. Season with salt and sugar. (Note: You can add the birds eye chillis in small amount at a time, adjusting the spiciness to personal preference)

Chef at work

2. Cover and place in fridge to chill for at least 10 mins before serving. Taste again before serving, and adjust seasoning as required.


Location: Gaya Island Resort, Malohom Bay, Pulau Gaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia.

Tel: +60 18 939 1100

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  1. Sounds fun! I like the presentation of the dish :)

  2. Now that's a great looking dish! Presentation sure helps...a lot more than some people seem to think.

  3. cute! They will love cooking!

  4. Such a great way to learn about a new place!

  5. bravo Little Chefs. talented just like the mom :)

  6. Your kids are taking after you! Such great cooks:D

  7. the kids are so cute in these photos! i'm pretty sure at this point that baby d and baby c can both cook much better than me! :D

  8. What accomplished little chefs you have there! I love the fact that they enjoy cooking so much! :)

  9. You have two talented kids!
    Master Chloe and Daniel, when can Jie jie taste your 'fine-dine' dish? HEHEHEHE...


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