Monday, June 30, 2008

Temerloh Food, Pahang

Ubiquitous Tilapia Make Good

The Tilapia fish was served on a huge plate in this restaurant in Mentakab. My host offered his disappointment for not being able to go over to Temerloh (10 km away) to pick up a live Silver Catfish (Patin) for our lunch. Fish farmers reared these along the banks of the Pahang and Semantan rivers that run through this town.

Patin should be eaten in Temerloh and in times past wild Patin was the order of the day. Now a wild Patin costs about RM100 (USD30) a kilo. So the people turn to those reared in cages submerged in the river which is way cheaper. The rivers here must be special. I can imagine these rivers cascading down from the unpolluted mountains of the Titiwangsa Range. The running water and currents are good for the fish as the meat comes out firmer, tastier and without the muddy taste and smell of those from the stagnant waters of the pools and lakes.

So there was no Patin, we made do with the Tilapia. Tilapia is not native to Malaysian waters but was introduced to Malaysia in the '50's. I encountered this fish 35 years ago on the dining tables in Ipoh. Some enterprising farmers started breeding this fish in the many abandoned mining pools in the Kinta Valley. The fish was steamed with Asam Boi (preserved plums), ginger and garlic. The Asam Boi is used to removed or masked the muddy and fishy taste and smell. The fish was small and thin with little flesh.

Since the introduction of the red Tilapia this fresh water fish has taken off as it is cheaper than the those from the sea. It is farmed using better methods and when I dare venture to say those from the rivers in Temerloh could be the best around taking into consideration that the fish was reared in the still good, clear running water.

The meat was firm and taste light and and somewhat neutral to the palate and is amenable and can be easily influenced by the cook's creative use of herbs, spices and sauces. If the fish grows bigger, its fillet will be excellent for fish and chips. The flesh was thick and has plenty to go around. The neck area was the best. We have it deep-fried but not overdone. It was served lemak style with lots of turmeric, lemon grass and a host of other spices. Swiping the meat lightly on this gravy brings its taste out. Rounding up our meal were the Four Heavenly King with Sambal Belacan, Hot Pan Tofu, Pork Ribs and Bayam.
The usual shopping from raodside vendors: Salak Fruit: White flesh crunchy, tangy and sweet @ RM12.00 a kiloHoney Jambu (red) @ RM12.00 a kilo and Apple Jambu

1 comment:

Precious Pea said...

Your post reminded me of the patin i had when I went back to Mentakab (I was born there). Flesh was firm and sweet, nothing like those we get in KL.