MIRI – Mention “Nasi Lalapan” in Miri, the deliciousness of its “belacan” (shrimp paste) is something that will linger long in the memory of visitors who have tried it.
With its reputation preceding itself, the paste is much sought after by visitors to Miri, especially from the peninsula.
With droves of people descending in Miri ahead of the Sarawak state election this Saturday, it is a “must have” item to bring back home when they leave Miri, the second largest city in Sarawak after the state capital Kuching.
Its taste and aroma is rather unique somewhat like the belacan available in Bintulu and Kuching, which are also famous in their own right and very popular with visitors.
According to Suriani Abdullah, 45, who makes the paste using traditional methods, the pestle and mortar used in the pounding was what gave the unique taste.
“To save time and energy, many are using machines to process the main ingredient, the geragau shrimps or ‘bubuk’, but it is the traditional method that gives the sweeter aroma and better taste,” she told Bernama.
Suriani, who is a hawker at Tamu Kedayan Miri, said most of the Miri belacan available in the city were ‘homemade’ by housewives and there were no factories producing the paste.
“If homemade, the quality will definitely be better because of the care taken in choosing geragau of the finest quality,” she said.
The paste is available in 100 grammes, 150 grammes, 200 grammes and 300 grammes packets with the price ranging from RM3 to RM10.
Arnie Herman, 42, a dealer in the product, said the taste got better the longer it was kept and that the paste could last even up to five years if stored properly.
A hawker at Tamu Muhibbah, Doris Tiing, 40, said Miri belacan and Bario (hill) padi and salt were the top selling items at her hawker centre.
“Being homemade, Belacan Miri does not contain preservatives or seasoning like MSG. It is a cottage industry and that’s what makes it so special,” she said.