Sultans of swing…

I dreaded buying ikan sultan as more often than not, it would be one of those farmed ones and in those farms where they do not have running water in the fish ponds, the fish would have an unpleasant mud smell.

The ones from the Batang Ai hydro-electricity lakes should be fine – we get our supply of tilapia from there, alive and no, there is no mud smell at all. These days, you can get the ikan sultan from there too. As a matter of fact, these two types of fish are easily available from my favourite fish & seafood stall near my house but for no particular reason, I never bought those from the nice lady there – I guess I prefer to buy the freshly-caught ones.

It so happened that my missus went out sometime ago to stock up on food supplies in the house and she came home with not one but TWO frozen Batang Ai ikan sultan from the supermarket near my house. She steamed one and even though it did not have that mud small, the fish had its own smell which I was not entirely fond of. I had to eat it with soy sauce, something I would do when things do not taste so great.

I reminded her of the one that Peter, the boss of Payung, gave to me…

…a long time ago, cooked by one of the Iban ladies working at his café. She removed all the scales so the fragrances of all the ingredients she added could go into the fish. There was serai (lemon grass), chili and a whole lot of leaves and she wrapped everything in either daun pisang (banana leaves) or daun kuyit (turmeric leaves), I can’t remember exactly now, and it tasted really good, no smell whatsoever.

My missus decided to cook the second ikan sultan in her own way with the same ingredients for otak-otak, scales removed and baked it in the oven, wrapped in daun kunyit on the inside, aluminum foil on the outside…

…and boy, I must say it was really very very good!

There wasn’t any of that fish smell that I did not quite like in the first one that we had, steamed. The really fine and smooth meat of the fish was so very sweet…

…enhanced by all the tastes and fragrances of the ingredients used. We sure enjoyed it so much that day and make no mistake, we surely will buy more ikan sultan after this and cook it this same way or in the ethnic way, like how Peter’s worker did way back then.