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.

Author: suituapui

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

10 thoughts on “All about that bass…”

  1. Ikan siakap, nice and cheap, eh. The fishmonger used to tell me ikan siakap is nice and I think I bought it a few times but doesn’t know the English name is barramundi.. 😂😂. I like it done in both ways, steamed and sweet and sour. Any type of fish dish eaten at chu-char place or restaurant always cost a bomb. Was surprised at the uproar of this fish at the one of the restaurant in Langkawi recently.

    Yes, but it was VERY big in the photo I saw. The one in the newspaper report that I linked did not look so big and it did not look very nice either, the presentation and all. Over RM1000, can do a lot of things with that kind of money!!!

    This one that I bought came from Batang Ai, not as big as those that we used to enjoy at the Thai restaurant here but big enough for the 3 of us. That was why I seldom ordered unless I had guests to help eat al the fish. This Batang Ai one was good, very fresh. They also have ikan sultan…and of course, their very popular tilapia. I love the deep fried ones at Sugar Bun.

    1. Yes, Tilapia from Batang Ai is good, no mud smell… *High five*.. Deep fried Tilapia from Sugar Bun also my favorite.

      Now you have two other choices, ikan sultan and ikan siakap, also from Batang Ai. I like them both but I think I will choose not to buy ikan sultan because of the bones. Too many for comfort.

  2. I have bought siakap and cooked it before. That was during the first MCO I think. It has been a while though since I bought any fish. I am terrified of frying fish due to the splattering oil. LOL! I always love sweet and sour fish either the whole fish or fillet.

    Don’t THROW the fish into the oil. My missus does that too FROM A DISTANCE as she too is afraid of the hot oil. Just let it slide in slowly, can turn down the fire a bit if you are worried, turn it up again when the not-so-vigorous spluttering subsides.

  3. I like sweet and sour but never make myself. Prefer steam as healthy. Eating fish is good but it could be pretty expensive

    My hubby bought few wild tilapia from Batang Ai at RM10 per kilo. The farm rear is free as he has a friend doing farming there. Visited the farm and got some free tilapias.

    Wahhhh!!! So lucky to get fish free!!! RM10 per kilo is so cheap. Dunno the price of tilapia, never asked as I never bought any. I think siakap from Batang Ai is RM15 a kilo.

  4. Ikan siakap is very popular now after the Langkawi incident. I like siakap cooked Thai style, either steamed or deep fried. I like fish cooked any style as long as they are fresh.

    Yes, especially when you want to steam the fish – must be very fresh so it will be sweet and tasty. Not that fresh fish can be deep fried till crispy and served with sauce/gravy – will taste great too.

    I know barramundi is very popular in Australia – we export ours there, so I’ve heard. Our first time cooking and eating siakap. We sure loved it, will certainly buy again.

  5. wow! good thing my dinner is fish and chips otherwise i’d have a bad craving for fish 🙂

    I love fish and chips overseas. Here, at most “classy” cafes, they use the cheap dory fish fillet, not nice.

  6. I really didn’t know that Siakap is known as barramundi….that caught me off guard for sure.

    My family and I seldom eat siakap as it has that “soil smell” to it. It does not have that salty fishy smell.

    I did not know either…until I googled to get the name in English!

    You probably bought the lousy farmed ones from those muddy ponds – not just this fish, all farmed fish from those farms are like that. Here, we get ours…and also ikan sultan and tilapia from the massive hydro-electricity lakes at Batang Ai. The water is always flowing, no mud smell.

  7. Yes, siakap can come from the sea or fresh water.
    Make sure you choose the sea one.

    That should be nicer, I’m sure. Same thing with everything else, even the prawns that I buy…or the ones they use at the shops and stalls.

  8. You made me miss the steamed fish in Malaysia, I have a favourite restaurant in KL before which I visit regularly

    I wonder which one that was but no, I would not go for steamed fish over there. Even if it is fresh, it will surely burn a hole in my pocket. My blogger friends from there carted boxes and boxes of fish home from here – said it was unbelievably cheap compared to there.

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