Salt a key ingredient during ‘bubuk’ season

Damini selling bubuk together with packages of salt at her stall.

MIRI: Salt is in high demand during the ‘bubuk’ season for turning ‘bubuk’ or tiny shrimps into ‘cencaluk’ (pickled shrimps) and ‘belacan’ (shrimp paste) – home-made products for which the city is famous.

Most stalls managed by fishermen’s wives and family members along Lutong-Kuala Baram road are using the bubuk season as an opportunity to sell one kilo packages of salt apart from the day’s catch of fish, prawns and bubuk.

Damini Abdullah said the kilo packages of salt are selling like hot cakes alongside the bubuk caught by her father at her stall.

“We pack the salt by the kilo sold at RM2 each. Customers buying bubuk will also buy salt needed to make cencaluk and belacan,” Damini told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Belacan is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces and it is often an ingredient of dips for fish and vegetables.

Damini said they buy the salt by the sack from wholesellers and repackage them into small packages weighing one kilo. Thus apart from selling bubuk, they also sell salt for the convenience of customers making cencaluk and belacan.

Most of her customers buy a few kilos of salt at her stall after buying bubuk, so they don’t have to go back to the city or nearby grocery shops for salt.

“Selling bubuk and salt provide extra income for our families and we sell them during the bubuk season every year,” Damini added.

According to a fisherman Adhwa Zhafri, cencaluk is made by seasoning the shrimps with salt before leaving it in bottles to ferment for a few weeks, with the occasional stirring to make sure the salt is spread evenly. The bottles have to be covered to keep away the flies.

To make belacan, the bubuk are salted and left to dry in the sun before being pounded into a uniform paste.

When the process is complete, the belacan is cut into fist-sized rectangular blocks or sold in bulk.

“This is a season when fishermen double their effort to catch as much bubuk as they can, which they sell to earn extra income,” he said.

According to Adhwa, Miri belacan is known as the best shrimp paste and is in demand not only in Malaysia but overseas, especially in countries like Brunei, Singapore, Middle East and Australia.

Nowadays belacan is sold at RM30 to RM50 per kilo and is an essential ingredient in many Malaysian dishes, he said.

Source: The Borneo Post

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