Sesar Unjur is another sarawak delicacy that i find very unique and must be very delicious. i bought my 1st sesar unjur at satok’s pasar tamu. can’t wait to let mak taste and comment about it ;).
The Making of Sesar Unjur (Smoked Shrimp) :
Belawai’s smoked shrimp is considered to be the most “authentic” because it is made purely from special shrimp called red shrimp and instead of roasting method, the shrimp will be arranged on a square “board” made from bamboo and the board will then be placed slantingly beside the fire. Another aspect that determines the good quality of Belawai smoked shrimp is the usage of mangrove tree as firewood as this will produce a special aroma that makes the shrimps tastier. Although, the women were paid for their involvement but they claimed that it was not so much about the money but the enjoyment of doing it together. Indirectly, this activity gives the opportunity to enhance bonding between them. The process is based on reciprocal, whereby all groups help each other in the processing activities. Every group will join to help the other member of the group doing the same activity. However, the participation does not involve every stage of the process. The processing of smoked shrimp involved different stages, which includes boiling of shrimp, skin peeling, smoking, drying and packaging. However, only two stages of this process are done in a group, the skin peeling and arrangement of shrimps on the board. All these process are normally done in the compound of the host’s house. As the host and owner of the business, she will invites several local women, especially her nearest neighbours and relatives together with their children to help her in those two activities. Firstly, the host will take fresh shrimp from the local fisherman, usually between 30 – 70 kilogrammes of shrimps for every session. Seventy kilogrammes of raw shrimps can produce around 7 kilogrammes of smoked shrimp (one tenth of the whole shrimp). For a 60 kilogrammes of shrimps, it will take a group of 13 members to finish in one and a half hours. The delicate and intricate process of making this sesar and it small endproducts quantity explains the expensive price of sesar unjur.
The shrimp will then be boiled for two minutes so that the skin is easier to peel which also involves the removal of the shrimp’s head and tail. This is the most enjoyable experience of the whole process because it involves the entire family and neighbours from different age group ranging from 8 to 60 years old. Children are the most excited as they will be paid for every kilo shrimps that has been peeled, usually 50 cents for every kilogramme and manage to get RM5 per session. The delicate process of sesar making is menelat that is to arrange the peeled shrimp side by side on the square board (called kelak). This exercise needs a lot of patience and skills because only the skilled person can make the shrimp stick to the bamboo board. The next process will be the smoking, whereby all these kelak will be placed slantingly around the main fire. This will take the longest time, about 4 hours. The final stage of this process is the packaging. The dried sesar unjurwill be packed in a plastic bag and for every 5 kilogrammes package will be sold between RM50 to 55 and usually the price varies depending on the location of the market, such as Tanjung Manis and Sarikei. For example, the same 5 kilogrammes package is sold for RM300 in Sibu, about 3 hours boat drive from the village.