Fish Dish 1

It’s another post about fish. This time, it is a post about how we typically cook our fish in my kampung. Only a few full time fishermen are left to supply us with fresh seafood, compared to the time before an industrial/port town was opened 10 kilometer away from my kampung. Most of them have jobs at the town and catching fish is just a way to add to their income or just for their own consumption. Luckily, my uncle is still an active fisherman, so my house has always enjoyed fresh supply of fish. Although not constantly, we are very thankful that we still get to eat fresh seafood from time to time.

By the way, in Melanau and Malay, fish is ikan.

isam putik, white soup

Isam putik, white soup

This is the simplest soup we make out of ikan kilat in Melanau (Sarawakian Malay calls it ikan cermin, which literally means ‘mirror fish’). Boil ikan kilat with salt, MSG and asam keping or as we commonly call it here asam gelugur, a type of sliced and then sun-dried and very sour fruit that is used to add sourness to food. And there you go; you have isam putik (white soup). If you add crush turmeric and chili in it, you get isam kunyit (turmeric soup). Our version of isam kunyit does not have shallot in it, or garlic, which strikes as odd to some people. Addition of such ingredient will change the dish name to isam tumis (sauté soup), because it involves sautéing shallot before all other ingredients are put in. However, we use other fish in turmeric and sauté soup, like ikan malang (if pronounced with Malay pronunciation, this fish’s name means ‘unfortunate fish’), ikan beletut (link here) and ikan bekurung (a type of catfish I think). I am quite sure that they belong to the same family, since they look a lot like catfish. I shall upload a picture later. You can guess the taste of this dish, it is quite bland.

Fish curry, kari ikan

Kari ikan, fish curry

Ikan limbai, a limbai fish

Ikan limbai, a limbai fish
Main ingredient of the curry

Curry! This is very common; everyone knows what a curry is. That fish head in the picture belonged to an ikan limbai as shown below it. We cook curry whenever there is a fish that is big enough, in special occasion and on festive days.

Dry soup, isam muang

Isam muang, dry soup
Sour and spicy smoked fish soup with lemongrass

This is called isam muang (dry soup). The main ingredient is smoked fish. Sometimes the catch is plenty we have to preserve them to avoid wastage, like by making them into salted fish or smoking them. Normally we smoke ikan beletut (link here) and a variety of fish from catfish family called ikan bekurung, ikan jan, and tegalan (a very big type of catfish that is caught in the ocean, not near the shore, that shares its name with tegalan, a ghost that resembles a flying human head with its internal organ hanging below as it flies. Malay calls it hantu penanggal (detached ghost) and Sabahan calls it balan-balan I think). As you can see, the smoked fish is boiled with slices of chili, pounded lemongrass and asam gelugur.  The smoky flavor of the fish really compliments the spiciness and sourness of the soup. The lemongrass adds much flavor and smell to the soup as well with its citrusy and refreshing smell.

That’s it for Part 1, stay curios:)


Cempedak galore

Cempedak galore, not really…

Earlier this year in January was cempedak (Melanau: paduk) season. We have an orchard located half an hour away where we planted many cempedak trees. This orchard has been left alone for a year then, the grass was growing tall and many kinds of fern sprouted wildly, which some we picked as food. This orchard was my late grandfather’s, now my uncle takes care of it. We used to go there quite frequently, despite the poor condition of the road. Our journey on a van to the orchard was easy until we have to get off the main road and get onto the poorly maintained road leading to the orchard. First we have to go through narrow cemented road that is infested with potholes and several very old bridges that looked like it could break anytime. The road was straight and so narrow that if there was another van coming from the opposite way, one would have to reverse all the way back to the main road if they are unlucky enough to encounter another car or van on the part of the road where the road shoulders were non-existent.

Road to Orchard

Road to Orchard

The picture shows the second part of the road: dirt road. I was exhausted from pushing the van with my brother, so I took this picture showing my brother and the van leaving me far ahead. That day, rain fell heavily and this was what happened to the dirt road: muddy and slushy. Since we had already made plans to go to the orchard that day and the cempedaks could go bad if not picked for too long, we went anyway, knowing full well what to expect. I also expected that the pushing will be more demanding after we loaded the van with cempedaks. We had to push the van several other times before we arrived at the destination.

Turned out my uncles and my brother had already came to the orchard days earlier to clear the way. Our orchard is one of many other orchards located in the area. Many of them were abandoned because the second generation of the orchard owners moved to city even before the first generation passed away because they have family and job in the city. As a third generation, I feel that someday our orchard will be abandoned too.

Cempedak tree

Cempedak tree

You can see that the ferns and bushes were cleared under the cempedak tree.  How do we know if a cempedak is ready and can be picked? My mother said if there is no leaf on the stem, then it can be picked. As you can see, many of these cempedaks were not ready. Mainly, we picked the ones on the ground. You can also see ferns on the ground. As far as I know there are only three types of fern that can be consumed. Only two types can be found in this orchard called pakau bulan (literally, moon fern) and ram. It is a taboo for some people to eat ram, we are one of them. I don’t really believe in such thing but stayed away from it just to not offend my mother who sternly prohibits us from consuming it. According to her, it can cause some health problem. Strangely enough, she would cook it for my uncle. The taboo does not apply to him, she said, only me and my siblings.

Cempedaks

Cempedaks

This particular tree was very bountiful with cempedaks. There were actually more as I gazed upward. I remember this tree from way back when I was seven, when my uncle scolded my cousin and me for climbing it. Good old days.

Cempedaks on the ground

Cempedaks on the ground

We gathered the cempedaks at one spot so my mother could cut them open and pick the flesh. This reduced the weight of the fruit we had to carry in the van later when we returned home. The white stuff on the fruit skin was cempedak tree sap. It will not cause irritation to skin but it is very hard to wash off unless you use cooking oil to get rid of it off your fingers.

Bamboo, buluh lemang

Bamboo, buluh lemang

We also have this big bamboo tree in our orchard. This type of bamboo is called buluh lemang in Malay and is used in preparation of lemang. Lemang is glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk and cooked in banana leaves and bamboo. It is a delicacy that can only be found during Eid. In this part of Malaysia, we do not cook lemang for Eid, but we have kelupis. It is basically the same thing, but the preparation is more tedious. I should write another post just for kelupis alone.

Cempedaks hanging from its tree trunk

Cempedaks hanging from its tree trunk

More cempedaks

More cempedaks

Close-up shot on a cempedak skin

Close-up shot on a cempedak skin

The edible part of cempedak: its flesh

The edible part of cempedak: its flesh

This is the inside of a cempedak. The yellow flesh covering a seed has a very distinctive smell. The smell is sweet and very hard to get rid of once you touch it. If you consume too much cempedak, your pee will smell like them too :) There are three ways to enjoy cempedak.

One, just eat it right away.

Two, once the seeds are removed, the flesh is mixed some sugar and stirred in a wok on fire. Then it will be ground in a food processor until the strands of fiber of the flesh is no more. Next, it will be smoked in young nipah leaves until it turns dark brown. This is a way to preserve it because sometimes there are too much cempedak in a season. This smoked product is called pais paduk.

Cucur cempedak

Cucur cempedak

Three, the most popular to enjoy cempedak is to dip them in flour batter and deep-fry them. This is called cucur cempedak in Malay (Melanau: susor paduk). Cucur cempedak is perfect for afternoon tea, much like fried banana (pisang goreng). During its season, cucur cempedak can be found at any roadside stall and is very sought after by the fans.

The young cempedak can be cooked like young breadnut too, where it is treated more like a vegetable than fruit. You can read it here.

I took a lot more pictures than this, but my hard disk was corrupted and these are all I could salvage. It could really be cempedak photo galore *sigh*

Stay curios :)


One of My Favourite Mangas: Rurouni Kenshin (Part 1 of 2)

This post may contain manga spoiler.

IT WAS MY BROTHER WHO INFLUENCED MY INTEREST IN MANGA. THE EARLIEST COMICS HE BOUGHT WERE THE COMICS FROM HONG KONG TRANSLATED INTO MALAY, NAMELY PEDANG SETIAWAN AND SUCH. THEN, HE DISCOVERED DRAGON BALL (MUTIARA NAGA) , DRAGON QUEST AND YU YU HAKUSHO AND STARTED BUYING THOSE MANGA TANKOBONS PUBLISHED BY COMIC HOUSE.

Comic House would change the mangas’ name into Malay, for example:

Flame of Recca = Bara Api Recca

Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo, Kindaichi Case Files= Penyiasat Remaja

One Piece= Budak Getah (lit. Rubber Boy)

Ueki no Hosoku, Law of Ueki= Peraturan Ueki

I would read them in secret because he got mad if I as much as touched his belongings. We were kids then, you know how brothers treat each other when they were younger. Sometimes we got along well, but most of the time we got on each other’s nerve. Now that we’re older, we’re friends.

Those three mangas were a huge part of my childhood. We would wait each Sunday at 9 a.m. to watch Dragon Ball on TV because it was so much cooler to watch the anime with moving pictures and dialogues and all. I like Dragon Quest because of the magic elements and Yu Yu Hakusho because of a character named Kurama. I really thought he was very cool. Kurama was also the real name of Kyuubi (Nine Tails) in the manga Naruto and I read somewhere that the name was a direct reference to Kurama in Yu Yu Hakusho. Kurama in Yu Yu Hakusho was originally a nine-tailed demon fox but he assumed human form after some incident. Kyuubi, as any Naruto’s fans know, is also a demon fox with nine tails. I was very excited to have known that reference the first time Kyuubi’s real name was revealed.

Of course, there were other mangas produced during that time,

But it was Rurouni Kenshin that I loved the most, I still do, even though the story has ended many years now. The manga was translated into Malay as Satria Pedang, literally meaning ‘Warrior of Sword’. It’s a story about a man wielding the legendary style of Hiten Misturugi with very dark past travelling with his reversed-edge katana. The man’s name was Himura Kenshin, formerly known as Hittokiri Battousai, because of his job as an exceptionally deadly assassin and his expertise in battou jutsu, the art of drawing katana, slashing enemies with the katana and then sheating the katana quickly and smoothly. The story was set in the Meiji era of Japan where carrying katana in public is prohibited. This in turn had given rise to funny occassions where he was chased around by police officer because of his reluctance to abide to the prohibition.

He would then meet Kaoru Kamiya, a girl inheriting a kendo dojo from his father, Sanosuke Sagara a raging teen who was quick to use his fist and Myojin Yahiko, a kid thief who eventually taken in by Kaoru into the dojo.He stayed at Kamiya dojo returning the favor to the dojo by doing laundry and household chores. His reversed-edge katana was an implementation of his oath to never kill again. Along the way, his reputation as an assassin finally caught up to him.

These are the highlights of the story that I think worth mentioning. To whom who has never read this manga, this is a spoiler.

Almost Breaking the Oath

Kenshin swore that he will never kill again.

As far as I know there were only two times where he almost turned back into the infamous and ruthless manslayer that he was so trying to bury in his past. The first was his fight with Zine Udo where Kaoru was held captive. With Kaoru almost choked to death by Zine’s technique, he turned the tide of the battle to his favor by turning into his old self. Thankfully, Kaoru with her willpower broke free from Zine’s techniques and stop Kenshin from breaking his oath. Another time was in his fight with Katanagari Chou. Kenshin was really in a pinch because of his broken sword but managed to dominate Chou easily. Chou, agitated with fact that Kenshin manage to gain advantage over him with a mere broken katana, tried to kill a baby he kidnapped earlier and it was then that Kenshin has no other choice but to use the katana thrown to him by the baby’s father.  Knowing that he must stop Chou no matter what, he drew the katana and defeated Chou. Upon delivering the defeating final blow, his face started to turn to a face of a cold-blooded killer. He knew that if he uses the katana, he would definitely kill Chou, hence breaking his oath. Turned out the katana was a reversed-edge katana after all. He never broke his oath and as a bonus he got a brand new reversed-edge katana. Although Chou was not dead, he lost consciousness and was later arrested by the police.

Shinimori Aoshi as a Mad Man and as a Valuable Ally

Shinomori Aoshi is a very talented ninja belonging to Oniwabanshu, a group of undercover agent hired by the government. At a very young age he became the leader of the group. Come the Meiji era, he and his comrades worked for Kanryu Takeda, a corrupted business man who wanted Megumi Takani, a doctor to help him with his opium production. Inevitably, Kenshin who wanted to save Megumi crossed path with Aoshi and his group. After defeating the entire group member leaving Aoshi as the last one standing, Aoshi actually fought pretty well that he managed to punch Kenshin several times and cut Kenshin with his ultimate technique. But, Kenshin’s experience in battle proved to be life-saving as the ultimate technique’s damage was reduced due to a scabbard Kenshin used at the very last moment before the hits connected. With three huge cuts on his chest, Kenshin defeated Aoshi with the hilt of his katana. Seeing their defeat, Kanryu tried to kill Aoshi and his group together with Kenshin with a huge Gatling gun. Aoshi’s friend all died protecting him from the shot. With his friend dead, Aoshi disappeared and vowed to defeat Kenshin, the strongest swordsman in history as an honour of his dead comrades.

I think this vow of revenge was totally misdirected. It was not Kenshin who killed his comrades, it was Kanryu. Aoshi had always known the fact that Kenshin was the notorious manslayer who was also a legendary swordsman. In spite if that, he let his urge of becoming the strongest to meddle with his loyalty to his comrades.

Later, in Kyoto Arc Aoshi collaborated with Makoto Shishio, one of the biggest villains in the manga. He was then again defeated by Kenshin in Shishio’s hideout. Kenshin was confident at first that he was able to defeat Aoshi without drawing his katana, but he was proven wrong. Aoshi’ s training had enabled him to easily cut a book rack Kenshin pushed towards him and thus forcing Kenshin to draw his sword. Kenshin managed to knock some sense into  Aoshi’s head, but Aoshi refused to accept it and determined to use his new ultimate techniques against Kenshin’s ultimate techniques to see who’s right and who’s wrong. Kenshin ultimately defeated him with very small advantage that could cost him his life.

In Kenshin’s final fight with Shishio, Aoshi helped Kenshin by buying some time before Kenshin could stand again after being defeated by Shishio.  In Jinchu Arc, he was proven to be a valuable ally when he discovered that Kaoru was not dead, instead it was a doll that was made to look like her. This actually helped Kenshin to come into his sense after losing his will to live when he saw Kaoru was killed in front of him.

Shishio’s Revenge on the Country

After Kenshin left his assassin job, Makoto Shishio replaced him. However, he was betrayed by the ones who were hiring him and was burned to death. That’s what they thought, but Shishio actually survived the burn and started to plot against his betrayers who then works at Meiji government. The decision to eliminate him was based on the view that he was a sociopath and was a threat to the government despite his contribution as an assassin. Makoto gathered an army and form a team of best fighters called Juppon Gatana in order to take over Japan.

The government became aware of Shishio’s paln aand came to Kenshin for help. According to Saito, the government could not just send and army to deal with Shishio because any sign of internal wweaknes in the country will result in invasion of other country over Japan. Feeling responsible for Shishio’s action, Kenshin went to Kyoto to stop him. In the way, he met Makimachi Misao, got his katana broken after a fight with Soujiro Seta, a member of Juppon Gatana and in Kyoto, he obtained a new reversed-edge katana and learned the ultimate technique in Hiten Mitsurugi style from his master, Seijyuro Hiko.

Badly injured after fighting Shinomori Aoshi and Soujiro Seta who were both almost killed him with their ultimate techniques, Kenshin went to face Shishio. Soujiro Seta managed to uncover the secret of Kenshin’s ultimate technique and left the secret with katana as a final gift to Shishio. Despite all these, Kenshin still wanted to fight without using a real katana, in his effort to holding on to his oath.

But Shishio was not entirely at an advantage. His body could burst into flame if he fights for too long because the severe burn has destroyed his body’s ability of perspiration. His body could not regulate its temperature. He was also careless when he just let Kenshin to hit his body with the katana because he knew the katana is reversed-edged. He was strong enough to defeat Kenshin and knocked him into unconsciousness.

However, Kenshin stood again on his feet and defeated Shishio with his ultimate technique, Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki. Although Shishio knew the secret of the technique, he didn’t know that the technique had two strikes. When he blocked the first strike, he was very confident that he’d already won, but was sadly mistaken. When the second strike hit him, he was hit devastatedly.

But that was not the end of it, he stab Kenshin in his stomach through his girlfriend, Yumi. Kenshin was unable to dodge because his view was blocked by Yumi and was lying on the floor in his own pool of blood.

Shishio stood back up and let out his battle cry, showing that he can still fight. Kenshin was unable to fight as his body was already numb from the lost of blood. But, Shishio body could not take it anymore, so he burst into flame and died.

There was a heated argument about which one of them is stronger. Yes, Shishio stood up at the end but should Kenshin used real katana to deliver the ultimate technique. Shishio would have definitely defeated once and for all. But, Shishio was also holding back, or rather looking down on Kenshin. He could have just stab Kenshin in the throat the first time he grab Kenshin’s neck, but instead he chose to do it in style, by using the explosion of his glove.

Kenshin was holding back by using a reversed-edge katana and Shishio was too confident of himself. So it can be said they were equally strong.

Stay curios:)


A Shellfish, a Fruit and a Vegetable: Horseshoe Crab, Nipah Fruit and Yam

That’s a long title, solely for the purpose of being dramatic:)

Horseshoe crab, nipah fruit and yam are quite common food in this part of the world, with my tropical kampung located in river coast facing South Chinese Sea. I am not a fan of them, but this is what we have here so I thought I would just write about it.

Horseshoe Crab

Horseshoe Crab, Belangkas, Belakas. It is boiled.

The horseshoe crab (belangkas in Malay, belakas in Melanau) in the picture was caught in nearby creek to my kampung. During some time in a year, plenty of horseshoe crab will come ashore to lay eggs. In my kampung it can also be found in creeks that is connected to the shore and Rejang river. These creeks are also connected to man-made canals flanking alongside a road connecting this kampung to nearby town. Since many people go to work to nearby town using this road, when it is the horseshoe crab laying egg’s season, you can see them slowing down at the side of the road, looking for horseshoe crab. Strangely enough, I have never seen one in my life. I have seen some at the beach, but not in those canals.

Horseshoe Crab, Belangkas, Belakas

Horseshoe Crab, Belangkas, Belakas. Revealing the eggs.

Horseshoe Crab, Belangkas, Belakas

Horseshoe Crab, Belangkas, Belakas. Revealing more eggs.

This shellfish is not sought after for its meat, but its eggs. (or rather roes?) My uncle and my cousin really like them, but I have never tasted it, so I do not know how it tastes or whether to like it or not. There is something about it that stops me from having some. There is also a popular belief that consuming horseshoe crab’s eggs after or before taking paracetamol will lead to some serious health problem, even death.

Nipah fruit. Buah nipah. Buak nipak.

A of bunch hipah fruit. Setandan buah nipah. Jepak buak nipak.

Nipah fruit. Buah nipah. Buak nipak.

A nipah fruit.

Nipah fruit. Buah nipah. Buak nipak.

The inside of a nipah fruit.

The flesh of a nipah fruit.

The flesh of a nipah fruit.

The pictures are showing fruit of nipah tree. Nipah is a type of palm tree growing in abundance on either side of the road I was writing about. Its young leaves are very useful for wrapping food, click here to find out more. Its fruit can also be consumed. It is sweet and fleshy like young coconut pulp (is that a right word?). I do not see much of the fruit as much as I see the young leaves as people are not really crazy for this fruit.

Yam. Keladi. Bukau.

Yam. Keladi. Bukau.

Chopped yam.

Chopped yam.

Chopped yam stalks.

Chopped yam stalks.

Yam (keladi, ubi keladi in Malay, bukau in Melanau) is my sister’s favorite vegetable. Besides boiling the yam, it can also be made into yam in white pepper soup (roughly translated into Melanau: bukau sayur lada. The stalks are also eaten after the thin skin on it which can irritate the skin and throat (if you are not careful) is peeled. As you can see in the picture the stalks and yam are chopped. After sauteing shallots, add water and then the stalks and yam before putting in a considerable amount of ground white pepper enough to  make you sweat when sipping the soup. It is normally eaten with white rice and salted fish.

It is amazing how human survive by discovering new food to consume. Back then, there is not much choice on what to eat. People just make do with whatever the nature provides them with. Nowadays, we have french fries, instant noodle and carbonated drinks, we can afford to be choosy or even indifferent towards these really traditional food. Just some thoughts.

Stay curious:)


Kuih with Sweet Feeling

Besides the popular karipap which filling is spicy curry, there are quite a number of kuih with sweet filling. This post is about three kuihs with sweet  filling: onde, onde-onde and kisin.

If you notice the post title, before you say anything, yes I know the right spelling is ‘filling’ not ‘feeling’. I just think it gets along better with the word ‘feeling’ instead of ‘filling’. You know the feeling the moment filling of something you eat burst into your mouth, it is such a sweet feeling.

Enough rambling.

Onde

In my kampung, they call this kuih onde. If I’m not mistaken, kuih buah melaka (lit. fruit of Malacca) is also called onde-onde. You see, onde is the one pictured above, while onde-onde is pictured below. The onde-onde picture is taken from Suealeen’s Kitchen.

Buah Melaka or Onde-Onde

Buah Melaka or Onde-Onde

Onde‘s  crust is made from the same ingredient of karipap and is filled with red bean paste. Right before baking the kuih is glazed with egg for the golden finish. It is the size of an adult palm. Very sweet and ideal for afternoon tea. Onde-onde on the other hand is boiled, typically colored green and covered in grated coconut. Made from glutinous rice mixed with water and salt and then filled with gula melaka, a type of palm sugar or just plain granulated sugar,onde-onde is fashioned into a ball before being tossed into boiling water sinking. When it is done, onde-onde will float hence the popular Malay riddle:

Buah apa yang masak naik ke atas?  

Translation: What fruit when ripe, rises? (Instead of falling down.)

Ripe fruit will normally fall to the ground, unlike onde-onde that is also known as buah melaka (fruit of Malacca) that rises when ripe (cooked, done). In Malay, masak can mean done or cooked, and ripe.

Kisin

Kisin or Kuih Cincin

This is kuih kisin, as it is known in my kampung. I don’t know what they call it in Malay, probably kuih cincin or something. The size is about the size of your palm, quite big. The filling is made from ‘kerisik’ (toasted grated coconut) and ‘gula apong’ (palm sugar from nipah). The crust is made from rice flour batter. Kisin in the picture above is from Sabah, sent by my aunt. My kampung’s version is more like a ring (ring is cincin in Malay), and smaller too. Taste great when hot but quite hard when cold, making it not a favorite of elderly people. Since the ones making this kuih is elderly people who no no longer like it, this kuih is very rare in my kampung nowadays. A pitty really.

Onde is very commonly available throughout the year, onde-onde is popular during the fasting month of  Ramadhan and kisin I do not see as much when I was younger now, at least in my kampung.

Stay curios :)


WTF: What the Fish! ‘Pirang’, ‘Beletut’ and other fishes

I remember reading in a book regarding which plural forms is right for the word ‘fish’. The book outlined that if the fish is of different kind of fish then the plural form is ‘fishes’. If it is many fish of only one kind, then the plural form remains as ‘fish’.  Then the fish in the basin in the photo is called ‘a basinful of fishes’, I guess. They are the kind of fishes typically found in the water around Kuala Rejang.

A basinful of fishes

A basinful of fishes

Pirang

Pirang

This particular fish is called ‘pirang’. Sarawakian Malay calls them ‘empirang’. It has many fine bones in its body, much like ‘terubuk’. Great when fried till very dry with chilli, shallot and turmeric. The bones become less problematic when it is fried this way, as its bones become crunchy when fried. It is also ideal for ‘umai’, a Melanau raw fish delicacy. Again the bones are not a problem since only small pirangs are chosen, the bones are smaller in addition to being slice thinly. This in turn makes the task of cutting the meat off from the main bone an ordeal, an unskilled person will often hurt his finger. Another problem is the scales, if it gets into the ‘umai’ as a result of unskilled chef losing his nerve over the preparation of the fish, it will be unpleasant to eat the ‘umai’ since you will always spit out the plastic-like scales while eating it. Read a post about ‘umai’ here.

Baby Sharks

Baby sharks

These are baby sharks. Its length is about 30cm. To prepare it, pound chili, turmeric and shallot and then saute (‘tumis’) it. Put in skinned baby sharks that have been cut into equals pieces  and there you go, a dish called ‘gureng kisiw’ as we call it here, or literally it means ‘fried sharks’. The dish has a dominating turmeric and shallot taste and smell to cover up the fishiness of the sharks. But still, the smell of sharks is still very strong and I dislike this dish. Particularly because I can not get the carnivorous image of sharks out my head. Some people use shark in ‘umai’, which is a big no-no for me. However, shark is the go-to bait when setting a crab trap or when netting (‘menjala’) for prawns.  Its smell is strong enough to attract crab and prawns and its meat is tough, it does not tear and dissolve easily in water.

Beletut

Beletut

This fish is called ‘beletut’ in my language, and ‘popot’ by Sarawakian Malay. This is like the best fish here in my opinion because it is very good on its own. Just put it on smoldering coal, no need to scale, no need to gut them and there you have it. The ‘beletut’ meat is fatty and moist. Some eat  it just like that, some people like it with sago and some like eat it with rice, dipping it in blended chili, soy sauce and vinegar. If fried it kind of taste like fried chicken (to me). Other ways to enjoy this fish is to make soup out of them. Whether a plain soup with just ‘beletut’, salt, water and asam payak or a trumeric soup with addition to the said ingredient turmeric and chili. This fish is like ‘pirang’, it has many fine bones but trust me it is worth it. Currently it is RM8 per kilogram if you waited the fishermen to come back at the beach and it becomes more pricey once it reaches towns.

Smoking beletut

Smoking beletut on fire

Lumek

Lumek

The ones with the unhinged jaws and pinkish in color is called ‘lumek’. Be careful when grabbing this fish because it is very slippery, I do not think it has scales and its teeth is very sharp. When it slips through your finger, make sure not to get them caught in the teeth. Most common way to enjoy it is to smoke and sundry them until it is very dry and then deep fried. You can also cook it by sauteing shallot before adding salt, MSG, and water and let it boil until the meat is become mushy and dissolved like some sort of porridge.

There are other fihes, but these are the most common ones. I wonder if these fishes are available in other parts of the world and what are their names and how are they prepared. I wish there is some kind of search engine where you the search criteria is a photo, not words. TinEye reverse Image Search is the closest I can get now.

Stay curious :)


Know your ‘di’ and ‘dari’

Advertisement is one way of promoting products and services to the customers. We see it on the Internet, television, radio, newspaper, magazine and billboard by the highway. Bright colors and wonderful graphic elements together with catchy phrases are the few of many things that make a good advertisement. To me, one of the first things I assess in an advertisement is its grammar aspect. I know, I sound like some linguistic expert but I am not (heck, maybe I am just picky and annoying.) It is just that I find the advertisement more believable when it is grammatically correct. Since my English is not that good, I can only detect grammatical error on ad written in Malay. The reason I write this in English is to improve my English writing skills, so please comment on my writing.

The most common mistake I see in many advertisements; be it on TV or paper brochure is the usage of ‘di’ and ‘dari’.

 

WHERE TO USE ‘di’ AND ‘di-‘

In Malay, ‘di’ can be a prefix or a preposition.  I am not a linguistic expert so I do not know how to explain ‘di-’ as a prefix, but I know it is useful in converting an active sentence to a passive one. As a result, ‘di-‘ as a prefix is a part of the word being prefixed, hence should be counted as only one word.

Modifying active voice to passive voice using prefix ‘di’.

Since in sentences above ‘DI’ IS USED AS A PREFIX, DO NOT PUT A SPACE BETWEEN ‘DI’ AND THE WORD BEING PREFIXED.  More examples:

‘di’ as a prefix should never be separated from the word being prefixed.

Whereas ‘di’ as a preposition can mean ‘at’, ‘in’ or ‘on’.  AS LONG AS ‘DI’ IS USED TO INDICATE POSITION OR  A PLACE’S NAME like Malaysia, hospital, grandpa’s house or over there, ALWAYS PUT A SPACE BETWEEN THEM. More example:

Just like in English, preposition like ‘di’ is one other word thus should be written separately.

WHERE TO USE ‘dari’ AND ‘daripada’

The word ‘dari’ and ‘daripada’; they are both preposition and they both mean ‘from’ in English. However in Malay, they are not interchangeable despite the similarity in meaning.

DARI- used to indicate time, place and direction, strictly no other things beside these three.

DARIPADA-all other things other than time,place and direction. For example, like a person or origin of things.

‘dari’ and ‘daripada’ carry the same meaning, but not interchangeable.

REMEMBER HALF, REMEMBER ALL.

This is one tip on remembering the correct usage of ‘di’ and ‘dari’. You do not have to memorize them all, just remember half of them. The other half is not necessary because you know it is the opposite of the other half. The key word here is ‘OPPOSITE’.

Memorize that ‘di’ should not be separated from a word following it when that word is a verb. If it is other word than a verb then do the OPPOSITE (separate them).

If you want to use preposition ‘dari’ in a sentence, make sure the word following it is indication of time, place or direction. If it is other than time, place and direction then do the OPPOSITE (use ‘daripada’).

This may sound confusing, but it works for me.

OTHER COMMON MISTAKES

I love reading advertisement in the newspaper and watching it on television. I am always in anticipation for community service messages advertisement whenever there is a celebration like Independence Day and Eid. The funniest advertisement in my opinion is when Adibah Noor played a taxi driver who picked up a Malay man who spoke with heavy London accent from an airport despite only staying in London for ten days. I can find the ad anywhere in Youtube, partly because I have no idea who produced it. Was it Petronas or TV3? The saddest one is an advertisement by FINAS last year, where an old man struggled in a fitting room to button his own shirt so he would not bother his son and daughter-in-law. You can watch the FINAS ad here. I still have my father but the advertisement is so true and honest that it is impossible not to shed tears.

Stay curios :).


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