Who would have thought…

That day, after I had bought the shallots at a shop in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah here, I headed straight back to the car.

Personally, I am not fond of that area, especially the market there as it is always very crowded. Are they different people or the same ones every day? I particularly dislike how they would take their sweet time, stand around chatting with the sellers or their friends, never mind if they are blocking the way…and worse, they do not wait for you to move away first – if there is anything they want, they will cast physical distancing to the wind to just go and grab.

If my friend did not tell me I could get shallots there, I would not have gone there but I sure was glad she did! Why? Well, as I was walking back to the car, I saw these…

Ikan buris

…at a vegetable shop a few doors away, all wrapped up in a plastic bag.

Gosh! Who would have thought that they would be selling them in this part of the woods? I can’t even remember the last time I had any! I used to buy them at the freshwater prawns stalls at the Sibu Central Market (currently closed as there have been a few COVID-19 cases there) which isn’t much better that the one at the Dewan Suarah so of course, I have avoided it like a plague for almost a year now.

These are ikan buris or what we call sai seng in Hokkien, a very sweet, fatty fish, dirt cheap in my younger days but so very expensive now, over RM30 a kilo for the bigger ones. I asked the girl there how much they were selling them for  and Miss Congeniality, she sure wasn’t. Maybe she saw that I was so shabbily dressed (as usual) and she thought I could not afford those…so she gruffly replied, “RM26.00 a kilo!” I calmly told her I would take ALL five of them and it probably was just a little more than a kilo and she asked for RM26.00 something. I paid, grabbed the fish and left!

They were not very big but were quite all right. More often than not, it pained me to see them selling those finger-size ones. They should throw them back into the river to let them grow to a reasonable size. Though they are very rare here (probably because the river here is busier), they tell me there are plenty in the smaller towns like Kanowit and Bintangor (though not cheaper). Unfortunately, inter-district travel is not allowed so driving over to buy is totally out of the question.

My girl loves the fish but she is not fond of the traditional ethnic ways of cooking it, as an ingredient in sayur rebus (boiled vegetables) or masak kunyit (cooked with turmeric). She loved it oven-baked wrapped in kunyit leaves with all the herbs and leaves or just deep-fried, plain.

That day, she chose the latter so of course, that was how we had it…

Ikan buris, deep fried

…on our no-meat Friday last week – three of the five and boy, we sure did enjoy it to the max! They were a bit over-fried but that was perfectly all right as it was extra crispy, so crispy that we could eat the bones!

In the meantime, on another day last week, my missus took out her phak lor ark (braised/stewed five spice duck)…

Phak lor ark

…that she cooked for Chinese New Year but we did not take it out for the reunion dinner on the eve because my sister brought along the one from this chicken rice place in town. Actually I told her to save it for Chap Goh Meh but she said that would be too long and insisted on taking it out. She does not eat duck but my girl and I sure enjoyed it to the max and yes, I loved those stewed eggs!

Talking about Chap Goh Meh, it is just two days away and we have not decided what we would want to do for our dinner that night. What have you all got planned?

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

11 thoughts on “Who would have thought…”

  1. Whatever type of fish, I like it deep fried till cripsy like this. Best dip in soy sauce with chilli. For this coming Chap Goh Mei, I will just cook simple dishes as usual but will add kiam chye ark soup to my menu.

    Not into duck in soup…except pek ting eyok. My Kanowit students love the Cantonese sour duck – I’ve had that a few tines but it did not get me excited. My favourite is phak lor…or roast duck – I love Peking duck!

    After frying the fish, my mum took a bit of the oil to fry sliced shallots till golden brown and then she added soy sauce for the special dip, particularly for this type of freshwater/river fish.

    1. Will try out your mum’s special dip if I happen to deep fried my fish. That special dip only good for this type of fish, no other type of fish? Anyway, I might give it a try when I fried kembong or black pomfret. It might go well too. Never try never know…😁😁😁

      I think it is because it is such a fatty fish that will melt when being fried and it will go into the oil so it has a special taste and fragrance. Probably will not work with other types of fish.

  2. That looks crispy indeed! I want fish fried that way, specially when the bones get crunchy

    It has its good points, fried till so crispy – you get more of the lovely fried fragrance, less of the fish original taste but no worries about getting the bones stuck in your throat.

  3. The fishes are so nicely fried! Must be very crispy too! Chap Goh Mei… maybe will go for another dinner outside but not sure yet, or maybe just a quiet dinner at home.

    Wahhhh!!! You sure enjoy going out, eh? So far, we have not gone out to eat even though we can do so now, better #staysafe #staywell #stayhome.

  4. The special dip is good for steamed chicken too!

    It is? Yet to try it myself. My late mum would not miss making it everytime she fried this fish.

  5. Aiyo, I am not even aware tomorrow is Chap Goh Mei. Have nothing special in mind to cook tomorrow.

    Happy Chap Goh Mei to you and your family in advance.

    Thank you, and the same to you and yours.

    You’re so lucky, kids so big now…cam just ask them to cook, you just sit back and relax. LOL!!!

  6. I have never seen those fish before. Whatever it is, deep fried fish is always so delicious!

    They’re river fish, only in Central Sarawak. I don’t think they can get it elsewhere in the state, not in Kuching, I’m sure. We also have the wang poo liao (empurau), semah, tangadak…upriver, not found elsewhere in the state or the country. We truly are so very blessed here.

  7. Sai seng is RM 30 per kg? You can’t be serious! When I was young nobody wanted these fish.

    Yes, my late mum used to say how I refused to eat when it was just a few cents…and now that it is so expensive, I love it so much! Very hard to come by, a dying species.

  8. The duck dish with the braised egg would be my favourite! Have not eaten deep fried fish for a very long time as my mom usually steam it.

    Healthier but my girl is not so fond of fish, steamed. She prefers deep fried.

  9. We are avoiding crowds as much as we can. Our local supermarket just closed due to COVID cases.

    Oh dear! I’ve seen some of ours and shops too in the list of places where positive cases went to…but nothing happened. A couple did take the trouble to close and sanitise, most just went on like nothing has happened.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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