Garlic stuffed ikan bulus (silver whiting)

bulus

Bulus is a fish that has become a staple in our kitchen. It’s commonly called silver whiting (sillago sihama) and it’s a wee little fish. The largest ones are not much bigger than a sausage. It’s easy to cook (always a plus point) but relatively expensive at RM 19.90 per kg.

Damn, I’m starting to sound domesticated aren’t I? Prices of fish indeed…

ikan bulus

Anyway, I say relatively because there are a lot of other species of fish like catfish, kerisi, gelama etc which comes in under the RM 10 price point and this is double that. It comes up to about RM 1 per (small) fish. However, what bulus (silver whiting) has in its favor is that most of its weight is fish meat – there’s no large head or bones to take up excess weight.

silver whiting

The flesh of ikan bulus is also sweet and has an almost silky texture so it’s worth the price premium. :)

whiting

Silver whiting is best served marinated and deep fried with corn flour. It’s also wise to ask the hypermarket people to descale and gut the fish so you don’t have to do it yourself.

Our marinate sauce:
Light soy sauce
McCormick Season-All salt
Heinz brown sauce

bulus marinate

Just marinate the bulus using the ingredients above (or change it depending on what you have in your kitchen cabinet) and sprinkle some finely chopped raw garlic on top. Leave this for about 30 minutes.

Anyway, have you noticed that all the garlic has disappeared in the photo below? No, we didn’t discard it, there’s a trick here that we use to make it taste better.

bulus corn flour

Stuff the raw chopped garlic into the (gutted) fish’s stomach right before you spoon the corn flour over the silver whiting. It’s a simple but neat touch that gives you a tasty surprise when you bite into it. :)

We use Brown & Polson corn flour (the ones that come in a rusty hued can) to coat the bulus. This is a product that goes back ages. I remember seeing cans of this in my grandma’s kitchen. Heh!

frying fish

Slide the garlic stuffed fish into hot boiling oil and flip it once in a while. It only takes 3 minutes to cook due to the size and with that amount of cooking time, it’ll be crunchy enough to eat whole – bones, head and tail.

garlic stuffed ikan bulus

It’s delicious!

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant is not located in Pangkor but it sure seems like it. It’s nestled somewhere deep within the recesses of Subang and is Aud‘s regular stomping grounds. The proprietor there even knows her coz her family eats there so often.

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant interior

I am told this eating establishment offers extremely good curry fish head. The place is full of patrons digging into dinner and the four of us managed to find a table in the restaurant. There is an al freso area and an indoor dining section and most of the tables can be seen with the flagship curry fish head.

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant Spinach with Garlic

This is Spinach with Garlic – which I tried to eat more of, considering I’m not exactly the embodiment of healthy living. It’s RM 8 for a small dish and RM 10 for a large one. I can’t comment much about vegetables, since I never clicked on the Like button on this particular food group ever since I was a kid.

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant Honey Soy Chicken

Moving on to the meat of the post, this is the Honey Soy Chicken (RM 15, 20, 25 for S, M, L). It is endorsed by Ho Chiak as the sticker on the menu proclaims loudly (if words can talk that is). I found this rather good – the taste and texture is spot on. Sorry I stole all the good bits of the chicken. smirk

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant Fried Homemade Beancurd with Minced Chicken

The next dish is the Fried Homemade Beancurd with Minced Chicken (RM 10 for small, RM 15 for large). Beancurd to me belongs to the tofu group which I am not particularly fond of either. However, this dish surprised me with the exquisitely tender beancurn contrasted with the lean chicken meat. The gravy does the dish much justice too. I used Gourmet Mode on my Sony Cyber-shot TX-5 to take all the photos in this post.

Pangkor Curry Fish Head dish

Now this is the highlight of the meal – Curry Grouper Fish Head! It’s also bears the prominent lips, teeth and tongue logo of Ho Chiak and I stand here as witness that this is really good curry fish head.

There is no santan (coconut milk) added to the curry fish head – it’s cooked the Proper Way (TM). The price ranges from RM 28 – RM 75 depending on the portion. I liked the tender and succulent fish but the best part about this tai chow place’s signature dish is the curry sauce.

Pangkor Curry Fish Head

You can practically eat a plate of steamed rice with the curry alone – the medley of spices produces an opus of epicurean delight on your taste buds!

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant can be a little hard to find so I’m going to list down the GPS coordinates:

N 03º 04′ 40.5″
E 101º 35′ 18.8″

I saved it so I can come here to eat the curry fish head again. You know the best thing about Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant? It’s not only fucking good but it’s halal to boot!

Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa

kenko fish spa

Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa is a relatively new concept spa and reflexology center offering the unique doctor fish treatment for your feet. Doctor fish spas have sprung into popularity last year and a lot of people have been to Kenko Fish Spa, which has outlets throughout the Klang Valley.

kenko reception

I went to the Kenko Fish Spa in Pavilion, KL to experience the doctor fish spa. It costs RM 38 per person for a 30 minute session inside the doctor fish spa pool. I’ve been keen to check out the doctor fish ever since I’ve read about it on several blogs – it sounds interesting.

kenko tag

You are given a tag to clock in the Kenko Fish Spa area, and an attendant will direct you to the pre-treatment area. The tag initiates the start of your timing block, and allows you access to the general doctor fish spa pool. There are also private rooms if you’re more inclined to enjoy the fish treatment in seclusion.

kenko fish wash

Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa starts the doctor fish spa session by requesting users to wash their feet first. This is not just for hygiene purposes – chemicals from body lotion and creams can contaminate the pool water and probably cause the doctor fish to float belly up. Body lotion is not exactly sauce to complement the dead flesh the fish eats from your feet. ;)

kenko fish spa pool

The fish spa at Kenko in Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur features a central pool with larger species of the doctor fish and a trench bordering the perimeter with smaller versions of the Garra rufa and Cyprinion macrostomus.

kenko fish spa large

I went into the central pool first and the doctor fish swarmed around my feet and started nibbling away at the dead flesh. It felt a little ticklish at first, but after a while, the sensation is actually quite pleasant.

My girlfriend however, nearly screamed when she put her feet inside and quickly jumped out. The attendant kindly told her that the trench surrounding the area has smaller versions of the doctor fish and would probably be suited for the more squeamish ones amongst us.

kenko fish spa small

I joined her at the trench area after feeding the bigger doctor fish in the central pool. I figured it would work better to let the larger doctor fish feast on the larger and hardened chunks of dead flesh on my feet before letting the smaller ones take care of the rest.

The interesting thing about the doctor fish is that it not only feasts on the dead skin and flesh on your feet, but also on your legs. There are signs that warn against putting your hand inside the water, but I did just that and the doctor fish swarmed around it too and started nibbling away at the dead skin. :)

kenko

Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa @ Pavilion, KL offers a nice view of the city from the glass panel windows while the doctor fish takes care of the dead skin and flesh from your feet. It’s very relaxing and my feet was noticeably smoother after the treatment.

kenko sibu

Due to the popularity of the doctor fish spas, even Sibu has started its very own treatment center…in an inflatable pool right in the middle of a shopping mall. Instead of luxurious wood paneling, you get plastic chairs to sit on.

kenko sibu fish spa

It’s called “Love Bite Fish Spa Happy Feet” and some enterprising soul charges RM 15 for a 30-minute session inside the stagnant inflatable pool containing a handful of doctor fish. I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly falling over myself to sit down on a plastic chair and put my feet in an inflatable pool in the middle of the mall.

kenko fish spa me

Give me Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa any day. ;)

sixthseal.com Guide to Eating Umai

umai stall

Umai is a raw fish dish prepared by the Melanau tribe in Mukah. It’s a must try dish if you ever go to Mukah. It’s the Malaysian version of the sashimi and is traditionally the working lunch for Melanau fishermen.

Umai is made of thinly sliced slivers of raw fish and served with toasted sago pearls. The popularity of the dish for the fishermen is pragmatic – it doesn’t need to be cooked while deep sea fishing and the sago pearls provides the carbohydrates for a filling lunch.

me slicing fish

The fish has to be really fresh for umai to be prepared since it’s eaten raw. I tried my hand at slicing the raw fish and gave myself a nasty cut to the index finger.

umai segar

Umai is readily available in the markets of Mukah and it’s one of the flagship dishes that Mukah is known for (besides sago grubs). There are two different versions of umai – the traditional umai sambal campur and umai cecah jeb.

The sixthseal.com Guide to Eating Umai

umai step 1

Step 1: Ensure that a reputable umai stall is patronized. The fish needs to be really fresh for raw consumption to avoid uncomfortable conditions like E.Coli and explosive diarrhea.

umai step 2

Step 2: Find a comfortable place to mix your own umai. The ingredients for making umai can all be purchased at the stall and most of the stuff is prepackaged and premixed to the right amounts.

umai step 3

Step 3: Receptacles for the mixing of umai is essential. You would require a plate and a bowl in addition to forks. Sago pearls are eaten using your hand. Empty the raw slivers of fish into the plate. You can opt to retain a small portion of the raw fish for the the other version of umai.

umai step 4

Step 4: Inspect the contents of your umai sambal campur package. It should contain a bag of premixed ingredients essential to the umai experience containing raw onions and chillies. Calamansi limes should also be in the package for the original umai as well as a small packet of salt and the crunchy peanut cookies.

umai step 5

Step 5: Open the packet of crumbly peanut cookies and put it on top of the raw fish slivers. This is the secret ingredient in all good umai dishes that provides the sweet and crunchy texture to the dish.

umai step 6

Step 6: Crush the peanut cookie into a finely grounded powder using the fork. You need the peanut cake to be evenly distributed throughout the dish.

umai step 7

Step 7: Pierce the calamansi limes using a fork to enable a reasonable flow of the juice into the umai. Do not attempt to squeeze the lime without penetrating it with a fork (or another sharp utensil) first. Splash damage is likely to occur.

umai step 8

Step 8: Squeeze the calamansi lime over the raw fish.

umai step 9

Step 9: You need all the calamansi lime juice provided since the acidic nature of the fruit “cooks” the raw fish. I’ll explain the scientific principles at the bottom of the guide.

umai step 10

Step 10: Open the small packet of salt and empty the contents into the umai. The salt offsets the sourness of the calamansi lime and makes it sweet.

umai step 11

Step 11: Open the plastic bag containing the thinly sliced onions and chillies and empty it into the plate of umai.

umai step 12

Step 12: Toss the umai with a fork as you would toss a salad. The motions are similar and so are the aims – to mix everything as evenly as possible. The traditional umai is now ready for consumption!

umai step 13

Step 13: The final step is to empty the sago pearls into a bowl for easier consumption. The sago pearls are eaten using your bare hands to go with the umai.

umai step 14

Step 14: Consume the umai with a handful of sago pearls. The umai should be eaten first and chased with the sago pearls for the authentic Melanau umai experience.

Guide to eating umai video

Optional:

umai jeb

There is a new variant of umai called the umai cecah jeb which is dipped into a sambal (spicy paste) concoction.

umai jeb eat

You’re supposed to take a forkful of umai (raw fish) and then dip it into the special sambal sauce and eat it. It’s delicious! The sambal really got oomph! Very spicy. I like!

Guide to eating umai cecah jeb video

Caution:

splash damage 2

Splash damage is likely to occur even with the proper piercing technique as can be seen on Clare’s top. Respect the calamansi lime and it shall respect you. ;)

Explanation:

difference is clear

The calamansi lime has acidic properties that “cooks” (cures would be a better word) the raw fish in the umai due to reasons beyond my understanding. It just works.
The left fork contains the raw fish before the calamansi lime treatment and the right fork contains the slightly “cooked” fish after being marinated in calamansi lime. You can see the difference in the coloration and texture of the fish.
The difference is clear (TM). ;)

Fried Fresh Fish Head Mee Hoon @ John's Place

johns place

John’s Place is a small, family owned eating establishment in town that cooks up the only Fried Fresh Fish Head Mee Hoon in town (F3HMH for brevity’s sake).

johns place cook

The place also serves a variety of fresh fish head dishes, and the photo here shows the preparation of John’s Special.

johns place f3meehoon

The fried fresh fish head mee hoon over at John’s Place is really good. I’m not much of a mee hoon (rice vermicelli) eater, much less of soup based dishes but I still think it was good.

johns place f3meehoon macro

Here’s a closer look at the F3HMH @ John’s Place.

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