Sitting, Waiting, Wishing for Good Hinava

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing for Good Hinava

You know, I wasn’t sure if I should do a post on the container of hinava I got off a good friend last night. This friend of mine, who I consider to be my go-to girl for all things Kadazan gourmet, leaned over my shoulder last weekend to tell me she got me something special while I was basking in the Bornean sunset.

“What’s in this stuff?” I thought to myself.

If you don’t already know, Hinava is a type of raw fish delicacy dish from the local indigenous people of Sabah. Much like Peruvian Ceviche, the raw sashimi is marinated with fresh lime so that the acidity cooks the raw fish. This particular variety was very fresh, had a lot of bird chillies, had lots of veges and was limetastic!

Hunting for the Black Market Hinava

There’s nothing really illegal about the dish itself, but my friend calls her supplier and waits in the dark of the night in her car behind a shady nightclub to pick it up. I mean seriously, it amuses me that a socialite like her puts herself through all this for some fish salad — must be very good stuff!

She stalks her supplier every now and again to get his wife to make some, and when there’s stock she jets there and waits like a desperate damsel waiting for a crack fix. Bless her for remembering to get a container for me too. Alas, she tells me the lady who makes them is Malay and not Kadazan. (Oooh!) Correction: She tells me again that the lady IS Kadazan, but converted to Islam when she married a Malay guy, making her Malay by marriage.

Anyhow, I just had some of that seemingly black market stuff. Let me tell ya… man, it had some serious bird chillies in there. This is very addictive stuff, especially if you eat it with white rice. Due to privacy issues, I’m sorry we can’t share where to get this super-spicy homemade hinava, but if you’re really looking for some Chef Nestor Suan from Sailors’ Cafe makes some mean hinava. Go ask him for your own crack fix!

Alternatively, if you’re outside Sabah you could try to make some yourself. Here are some recipes:-

  1. Dolly & Francesca’s Hinava from Terri at
  2. Hinava Tongii from
  3. Hinava Tongii from

Note: Fish has to be very fresh. Like sushi and sashimi, proper handling and storage of uncooked fish is imperative to avoid getting food poisoning, among other things!

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