Something Smells Fishy
by: Caitlyn Ng
Malaysia - a country that is synonymous with an amazing variety of distinctively delicious food, thanks to the melting pot of cultures that exist in harmony here. If someone were to try and do a write-up of the types of food that can be found in abundance in this country, it would be never-ending. So we decided that we'd write about a creature that can be found in at least one of the dishes from all of the cultures: the fish. Fish first appeared in existence around 530 million years ago and the evolution of this creature led to what is now a highly versatile source of meat. Do read on for SaveMoney.my’s list of the top 5 most expensive fish to be found in Malaysia:
1) Can you imagine anyone doling out about RM550 for a kilogram of fish (and that is just the cheapest price you can get)? Neither can I. But that is exactly what many food connoisseurs are doing for a type of freshwater fish called the "Empurau" from the Tor tambroides species, or also known as "忘不了 (unforgettable) in Chinese. This fish can only be found in Sarawak, and is prized for its sweet, tender flesh and smooth texture. What makes its flesh that way and commanding hefty price tags that can reach up to RM2,000, is their diet of "Engkabang" fruits and flowers.
2) A type of fish that has flesh which is similarly sweet and fine like the Empurau's but with a price tag that isn't as hefty is the Sultan Fish, or also known as Ikan Jelawat. This fish is from the Leptobarbus hoevenii species and belong to the Barb family. The flesh of this omnivore fish is soft with a subtly sweet flavour accompnaied by a nice layer of fat under the skin, probably due to the fact that this fish eats the fruit that fall near the riverbanks. It would set you back about RM320 for a kilogram of this tasty fish, quite a dent in the pocket as well.
3) Ikan Semah, from the Tor Labeobarbus species, is indigenous to Borneo's higher reaches of freshwater rivers as it cannot be found anywhere outside this range. They are omnivores but usually prefer a diet of localized plant materials. Much of its natural habitat is affected by pollution and and their population in the wild is quickly dwindling, brought on by agriculture, logging and overfishing. Due to its exclusivity and different textures between the wild Ikan Semah to the cultured ones, the price per kilogram for this breed of fish can reach RM300, a pretty penny indeed.
4) For those looking for something that is still tasty would probably want to check out the "Ikan Tengadak" which is native to the waters of Borneo. It has a price tag of about RM250 per kilogram and it is a rather bony fish with tiny "Y-shaped" fish bones. That aside, this breed has similarly very sweet and flaky flesh and is good in taste, making it a popular choice for people who are looking for a delicate freshness and good quality fish at a more affordable price.
5) Finally, we have the Marble Goby fish, or "Soon Hock" fish as it is more popularly known in Malaysia ("Ikan Ketutu" in Malay). This fish is one of the biggest of gobies and comes from the Oxyeleotris Marmoratus species and its natural habitat is the brackish waters of streams, canals and lakes. As always, expensive fishes will have the trademark smooth, sweet, flaky and finely textured flesh. Coming in at RM100 per kilogram, this fish rounds up our list of Malaysia's Top 5 Most Expensive Fishes!
* Caitlyn Ng is an Investigative Journalist of SaveMoney.my, an online consumer advice portal which aims to help Malaysians save money through smart (and most of the time painless) savings in their daily banking, technology, and lifestyle spending habits.