Don’t look down on me…

We call this fish bak chi‘…

I do not know its name in English or Malay but my missus would buy it quite frequently a long time ago when she used to do her marketing at the central market but ever since the pandemic broke out, we have not set foot on that high risk place so we have not had this for almost two years now.

According to her, in her growing up years, they would eat this fish all the time for the simple reason that it was very cheap and they all enjoyed it – all of them loved it and I must say that I would agree with them. Don’t look down on it because even though it is cheap, it tastes real good and if you fry it a little bit longer till it is more crispy, you can eat most of it, the fins and all, leaving behind only the big bone in the middle. I do enjoy its crispiness and that special taste along with it a lot.

There may be some of those smaller fish like the kembong and all the rest…

…at my favourite fish & seafood stall but my girl does not seem to like those so I would not buy them. That was why when I saw them at the Malay stalls, I would buy one or two…

…for myself to “buang gian” (appease the craving).

She does like bak chi’ to some extent but they are very small and I cannot imagine cleaning them one by one. That was why when I saw some at the aforementioned stall the other day, I asked the nice lady if she could clean it for me and she said that would not be a problem.

I asked for 1 kilo (RM10.00 only) and got 20 of them, so cheap! I expected her to pass them to her helper, a nice young boy, to cut and clean out the insides but no, she did it herself…and I was stunned when I saw how she simply plucked off the heads of each fish violently…and that was it! When I got home, my missus was delighted that I had bought her favourite bak chi’ and when I told her what the lady did, she said that was the way they would do it, no need to cut and clean one by one inside out.

My missus just rinsed all of them well and deep fried them…

– there was enough for the three of us for lunch that day and also for dinner.

Actually, I dropped by the stall that day to see how the lady was doing. I noticed that usually, the stall was not open lately. For one thing, it had been raining a lot and besides, I did see those warnings regarding strong winds and stormy seas so I guess under such conditions, the fishermen could not go out to sea. She seemed to be doing all right, lots of fish that day and I still have my stock of prawns that I bought from her not too long ago, enough to last till after Chinese New Year so I did not want to buy anything else that morning, other than the bak chi’.

I saw her taking out one of the huge storage styrofoam containers and opening it and I was stunned when she put a packet of this…

…in my bag with my fish. “For you, for Chinese New Year!” she said.

Oh dear!!! I thought that was so embarrassing but she insisted and would not take “no” for an answer. Left with no choice, I just said thank you so much and took it home – perhaps, we shall have that for our Chinese New Year’s Eve Reunion dinner, may the Good Lord bless her and all her loved ones abundantly in the year ahead. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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 (formerly Jalan Pedada).

Author: suituapui

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

8 thoughts on “Don’t look down on me…”

  1. I agree, don’t look down on this fish called “bak chi”. They are my favourite fish too. The lady is so kind to clean them for you. Over here, the fishmonger only clean the big fish not the small ones. Count your blessings and lucky star if they did. So generous of her to give you that packet of abalone. May she be blessed abundantly

    Yes, indeed! She is so very nice, so generous, bless her! I feel shy dropping by to buy from her because she always wants to give me things.
    So you violently pluck off the heads like that too? LOL!!! I am not sure if I can do that, never tried.

    1. No, I didn’t pluck off the heads violently but instead I clean one by one by cutting the parts near the gills and pull out everything. Maybe will try the lady’s method if I ever buy bak chit again.

      LOL!!! I would do that too! Never seen anyone doing it like this before. I never tried but I’ve seen people cleaning ikan seluang (tiny river fish like ikan bilis but bigger) – they remove the scales, cut the head with the knife and press the knife down to hold it and they pull out the insides. Looked easy but I have never tried.
      I love this fish too, fry till very crispy, so nice…but I don’t know how to clean it. Asked the Iban lady selling them once if she could do it for me and she said, “Malas buat tak payah makan!!!” So pissed off!!!

  2. Wow! abalone those are really expensive here.

    Are they? People were telling me about how, in NZ, they would go to the seashore and catch them themselves, mussels too…by the pail! So nice!!!

  3. Yes, I agree bak chi fish is very nice and kembong fish too. I love fish especially these small fishes deeply fried till crispy. Sadly, seldom see these fishes at the fish stalls. Since pandemic, I seldom go to the main wet market in town. For me, any fish that is fresh is nice, whether small or big, doesn’t matter.

    I love fish but I prefer those with not so many bones. These have that big one down the middle – that is perfectly all right with me.

  4. Oh I miss these little fish. We used to have lots when we were younger with rice congee.
    We liked to soak the fish with a bit of oil to keep them moist and some sweet soya sauce to make them savoury.
    Perfect companion with rice congee.

    >I stopped by Birmingham once, industrial city, did not stay long.

    I used to work there on weekly basis. There is actually quite a lot to explore in the city.
    And it’s a good transport hub to visit many other places around Birmingham.
    I also went to Bristol and Bath once a month to check work progress.

  5. Cheap doesn’t mean bad, it usually means it’s in season and in abundance. Quite the opposite I think.

    That may be the case. This is cheap probably because of its size, quite a chore to prepare and cook and to eat but it sure tastes great.

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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