Malaysia Aquaculture Development Association president Liaw Boo Lai tells Tan Bee Hong that fish from local farms are just as good as those imported
WHAT has a snout shaped like an oar, swims and is delicious?
It’s a paddlefish (family Polyodontidae), which has a characteristic large mouth and an elongated, oar-like snout that’s twice as long as its head.
According to Wikipedia, “there are only two modern species of these fish: Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) and the American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) which is also Missouri’s State Aquatic Animal. It can grow to an average length of 1.5m and weigh more 30kg.
Well, both species are now being bred in Tanjung Malim. Ricky Oh of Baolai International Sdn Bhd, says the farm has over 10,000 paddle fish that it recently started supplying to restaurants.
He told those who attended the recent 2nd Malaysian Aquaculture Banquet held at Restoran Unique Seafood in Citta Mall, Subang, that the Americans and Chinese were initially sceptical about his plans to rear paddlefish. “But we have succeeded, using the cold water from the jungle,” he says.
Nothing goes to waste as one paddle fish (average 2kg) is sufficient for up to four dishes, including sashimi and claypot rice using the Omega-3-rich oil, he adds.
At the banquet, the head of the fish was used to boil soup and the deboned flesh stir-fried with ginger and scallions. The meat is firm and sweet. The cartilage bones can be deep-fried with salt and pepper.
JUST AS GOOD
President of Malaysia Aquaculture Development Association (Mada) Liaw Boo Lai laments that youngsters these days are reluctant to go into the fish farm business. “It’s high risk but high profit too,” he says, adding that Mada plans to encourage the people to eat more local fish which he feels is as good as imported fish.
Liaw, a former mechanical engineer, finds fish farming a more relaxing business and has been rearing Australia jade perch, black jelawat and red tilapia for the last 10 years. For the banquet, we had the Omega-3-rich jade perch steamed nyonya style, in a thick piquant gravy that brings out the sweet side of the white fish.
It’s not just fish that Mada deals with. Soft-shell crabs, usually sourced from Thailand and Indo-China, are now produced locally in Tanjung Malim, says DynoTree director Mac Ho, who smiles as he talks about how the crabs molt and are caught and frozen before the new shell hardens.
For the banquet, the crabs are dipped in a batter with salted egg yolks and deep-fried. It’s an easy way to eat crab without having to bother digging for the meat or compromising on taste and texture. Just pop the whole thing into your mouth.
ALL ABOUT FISH
Although there is chicken and venison on its menu, Unique Seafood Restaurant is mainly about the freshest fish.
Lined against one wall are tanks and tanks of live seafood from all over the world. There’s fish, lobsters, clams, crabs, prawns and geoduck. Prices are clearly indicated.
We had a taste of steamed Sabah grouper, a hybrid between the giant grouper and tiger grouper that gives a fish that’s sweet and delicate in texture.
The USA bass with orange sauce is a winner in many ways. Borrowing a citrusy sweetness from the flesh of oranges, the chef has added a pinch of finely chopped chilli to perk up the sauce.
The fish, deboned and tossed in flour, is deep-fried in very hot oil to give it a crisp coating while retaining all the sweet juices inside.
Restoran Unique Seafood
Where: Grd Floor, Citta Mall Jalan PJU1A/48, Petaling Jaya Tel 03-7734 3006
Opening hours: Daily. 11am-3pm. 6pm- 10.30pm
Getting there: Citta Mall is located on the left side from Subang Airport to Federal Highway
What’s cooking: Chinese seafood
You’ll Pay: Seafood: Market Price
Cooking charge: RM15
The loo: Clean and dry
Overall verdict :HHHHH Must try