Indonesia has a variety of traditional culinary delights that are rich in spices and many have a spicy taste. One of them is a typical Acehnese dish made from sea fish. His name is eungkot keumamah or better known as keumamah. The basic ingredient is tuna or skipjack.
Many of these dishes are served as a mandatory menu at festivals or celebrations of the local community. It is not difficult to find this menu in food stalls in Aceh because the raw materials and seasonings are easy to find. In the city of Banda Aceh, this keumamah menu can be found in the culinary center of the Blang Padang area. Keumamah is the best side dish when having lunch with warm white rice.
Tongkol fish that are used as cooking ingredients come from fish that have been dried for several days so that there is almost no water content anymore. At first glance this dry texture makes the fish look more like wood. Therefore, this dried fish is often referred to as wood fish.
Selection of tuna as the main ingredient must be fresh. Then the fish is cleaned from its stomach and the head is removed. Then the fish is boiled in water that has been sprinkled with salt until it is half cooked.
Then the fish is removed from the boiling area using a wooden container and dried in the hot sun. After drying, the fish is then split into two parts to remove the bones. It is not uncommon for them to split the fish into 3-4 parts to make it easier to remove the bones. Then it is dried in the sun again by being tied hanging on a wire that is stretched out like a clothesline. This is useful so that the water content drips out of the fish’s body. This process is carried out for about three days in hot sun conditions.
As a result, the weight of fish can be reduced by up to 70 percent of its weight when it is just caught. But don’t worry, you can still feel the original taste of the tuna which is tasty and fatty. This wooden fish is believed to be able to last up to two years to be used as the main ingredient of chumama because it has been boiled in salt water and has gone through a long drying process.
However, the supply of mackerel as the main ingredient for keumamah is highly dependent on weather conditions at sea. When the sea weather worsens, it is difficult for fishermen to go to sea and get supplies of tuna. Vice versa. To be cooked as keumamah, generally the people of Aceh use the cooking technique to dry and wet sauté. The wood fish material is thinly sliced then soaked in hot water for a few minutes before cooking with spices mixed with spices.
The basic ingredients of keumamah are cayenne pepper, red chilies, shallots, garlic, turmeric, coriander, ginger, lemongrass stalks, and enough water. Other ingredients are sunti acid, starfruit that has been dried and then salted. Keumamah can also be mixed with potatoes to vary the filling.
But who would have thought, behind the delights of eating this processed fish menu is a long historical journey. Namely, the fierce struggle of Acehnese leaders against the colonialists in the past. The fighters have to guerrilla in the forests for a long time, so the logistics of war must always be there, including food.
Not only eaten by freedom fighters, in the past the Acehnese pilgrims used this traditional food as a provision. Understandably, at that time the trip to Mecca was usually up to about 1.5 months by sea. As a result, the pilgrims need practical and easy-to-eat food.
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