All about that bass…

We enjoyed eating it…

…so much at Mary‘s awesome Thai restaurant, since closed down, but we called it barramundi and I did not know that it was actually ikan siakap in Malay and, thanks to Google, I also found out that it was called Asian sea bass as well.

The other day, there was this uproar regarding a customer paying over RM1,000 for the one he had at a restaurant in Langkawi. I looked at the photograph in the news report that I had linked here and it did not even look nice, nowhere near what we had before and no, we did not have to pay THAT much for ours, nowhere near!

Anyway, last Thursday, the weather was good so I went over to my favourite fish and seafood stall near my house – I do not like to go out on wet mornings and the next day being Friday, I had to go and see if there were any nice fish that I could buy for our no-meat lunch and dinner. We had finished all the salmon and cod fish that I bought the other day though we still had quite a lot of the prawns.

The very nice and generous lady boss was not around leaving the stall in the hands of her very young and friendly, very capable, efficient and trustworthy, multi-lingual ethnic helper.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much fish that morning – perhaps it was due to the North-East Monsoon around this time of the year. We do face a shortage of fish because the ships will not be able to go out to sea in the bad weather to catch. There were no or chio/ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret), no ikan tenggiri (mackerel), just some unfamiliar ones and the boy painstakingly told me about all of them – which were good, which would be better, how to cook them and what not.

Finally, he asked me to buy the ikan siakap – now, that name sure rang the bell but I did not know it was the barramundi that we used to enjoy so much as I never did see it uncooked at the time. The boy told me that it would be as nice or perhaps even nicer than the ikan sultan minus all those bones and in the end, I asked him for two, RM22.00 altogether, roughly RM11.00 ONLY each, since he said it would be good and after all that hoo-ha about the ikan siakap in Langkawi, I was curious as to what the fish was like.

Of course he cleaned the fish for me and since I was not sure at that point in time, how we would cook them, he cut one for steaming…

It could be open and laid out flat in the plate so the ingredients on top of the fish would be in contact with the part which would otherwise be underneath.

My missus said that her late mum used to tell them that this fish would only be good for sweet and sour. I wouldn’t know as I do not recall ever eating it before but I told her that since the boy had cut it this way, we might as well steam it…

…and give it a try. It turned out to be really good – very fresh and sweet, not quite as smooth as some other kinds of fish but it was good enough and there was no fishy or any unpleasant smell!

If we eat one whole steamed fish and one this size at a simple chu-char (cook & fry) place outside, it will definitely set me back by at least RM30.00, much more at the bigger restaurants, I’m sure. This was only RM11.00 each, so very cheap!!! We managed to finish it for lunch that day and we enjoyed it to the max and I sure would not mind having it cooked this way again.

The boy cut the other one for deep frying so my missus cooked sweet and sour with it…

…for our dinner that evening. Yes, it was good too, done this way.

I did go and buy RM1.00 bean sprouts from the fruit and vegetable sundry shop in the next lane from my house and my missus fried them with the aforementioned prawns…

…and that was good too. There was enough for both meals.

Yes, now that I know what fish that ikan siakap actually is and it is nice, never mind how we cook it, I sure will want to buy it again…when I see it at the stall.

The fish & seafood stall is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, if you go in via the entrance where San Len Tyres is located, just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall.