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.

Author: suituapui

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

20 thoughts on “Sultans of swing…”

  1. Though I do like both Sultan fish and Tilapia for steaming but bewteen the two I prefer Tilapia more. Yes, must be from Batang Ai then no that peculiar fishy smell. Besides steaming, Tilapia deep fried and cook in sweet and sour sauce is my favourite too. Deep fried Tilapia reminds me of Sugar Bun fish set…😊😊

    1. Yes, they use tilapia at Sugar Bun, so very nice – deep fried or assam. Sultan, more flesh but a lot of bones. Both from Batang Ai good but I’m not really into farmed fish.

    1. Yes, there are some varieties of fish that are so hard to come by these days, slowly becoming extinct. Good that there are people doing all they can to improve the quality of the farmed ones, just like the real thing!

  2. Bought 2 medium sized pomfret yesterday f9r RM25. Long time did not eat it and everyone miseed it. Rarely sultan other than eating in restaurant.

    1. Black? I bought a lot sometime ago, eating one at a time. I still have two in the freezer. Would be nice to cook that this way, – not so many bones unlike the ikan sultan.

      1. Yes. Black pomfret. I bought in Choice supermarket. Now I rarely go to wet market.

      2. Yes, so scary to go anywhere with a lot of people or walk a distance from where I park my car. Rejang Park market also had its share of problems at one time, seems all right now but no, thank you! I like to go to one place, grab what I want quickly and run for it.

  3. I love fish but seldom buy fish because hubby is not a fan of fish. I too do not like the mud smell or the “fishy” smell of fish that is not very fresh. I like the way your missus used the ingredients, wrapped it and baked it in the oven. When we eat out, we usually order tilapia steamed with spicy savoury sauce to cover the fish smell.

    1. But tilapia is fine, no fishy smell. Most fish would have that, even salmon – I am not a fan but my girl loves it so I would have to buy quite regularly.

      Best to steam fish that do not have a strong fishy smell, otherwise it would be better to deep fry and serve with some sauce or cooked in curry…like bawal hitam, best served sweet and sour if not that fresh. Even deep frying is not good enough unless it is very fresh.

  4. I remember this song, Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits. I have had a fish with muddy smell before, very unpleasant. I suppose cooking it with aromatic herbs and spices help to mask the smell.

    1. I dunno. If it had that horrible mud smell, I would just throw it away. Adding lots of herbs and spices would be good for fish with a strong smell that may put off some people. They will also help enhance the taste of the fish. Not many fish will be good eaten just like that.

      Oh? You know Dire Straits? I love their “Money for nothing”!!! Rock on, sista!!! LOL!!!

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

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