Gourmet Garden

Hunting For The Flavors & Texture Of Yesteryears'


Edible fish and shellfish from salt water or fresh water.

Kok Fish Head Curry 国加哩鱼头

Posted by Jason Wong On January - 6 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

During lunch with FoodnTravella last Sunday afternoon, we were told by her friend that there was a fish head curry in the Zim Sum Restaurant premises on Anson Road that operates in the evening. And of cause after getting wind of the stall, we decided to try out the fish head curry a few days ago after running some errands and meeting some clients.  The stall is run by an uncle and his assistant (worker lah), and it offers fish head curry, fish meat curry, fried balacan chicken and omelette.

The curry is made to order and there are a few sizes to choose from in terms of fish head size and pieces of fillet required. The one we had was RM22 and it was quite a big piece of head and belly, as you can see from the following photos. The fish head was bigger than the size of my wife’s palm and there were lots of okra, tomato, onion strips and mint leaves. Taste wise it is not very exclusive or unappealing; it was actually comparable to some of the more “famous” curry fish head businesses in Penang. The curry was predominantly sour with a sweet after taste and was not too spicy. The longer the fish sits in the curry gravy, the thicker it gets. Even though the curry was made from curry powder, the gravy was neither sandy nor grainy in texture.

Other than the curry, we also tried their balacan chicken which ranges from RM5.50 to RM11.00. The chicken is also made to order. The taste of balacan was light and the texture of the chicken was crisp on the surface and tender in the inside. If you are not a fan of fish head curry, you could try their balacan chicken, egg and rice set which I saw quite a few ordering. Address: 35, Jalan Anson 10400, Penang

Business Hours: 7pm to 11pm daily and closed on Wednesdays.

Overall experience:

  • Taste & Texture: 3.0/5
  • Money Value: 3.75/5
  • Service: 2.9/5
  • Cleanliness: 2.5/5
  • Atmosphere: 2.5/5

Previously we have posted about the infamous ‘Empurau’ fish in mandarin, but up until now I still do not have the time to compile my research on the fish that we did. So to make things easy for those who do not read mandarin you may go to this link to an article which was published by The Star; http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2010/3/28/sundaymetro/5920257&sec=SundayMetro.

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The ‘Empurau’ is freshwater fish which is native in Sarawak, and has its habitat in clean/clear fast moving streams. This fish has tender and rich textured flesh with special aroma which is mainly due to its special diet of ‘Buah Kabang’ or Engkabang(as in The Star). For the fish to be suitable for the table, it needs to be at least 3kg and above so that the flesh would have firm body. Anything below 3 kg would result in soft texture flesh which is due to the high fat content. The older and heavier it gets the flesh would firm up but the essential fats are still maintained.

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The price of this is mainly due to its availability of quality catch that mainly comes from interior areas in Sarawak. The Empurau can be found wild in Bakun and also Kapit, but the later produces the best fish amongst the two. There are also entrepreneurs that are beginning to  farm this fish on the Malaysian Peninsular in view of the price tag that it carries, but the quality of the flesh is yet to be determine. There are also cases where the so called ‘Empurau’ is being imported from our neighboring country, Indonesia.

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So far places that offer ‘Empurau’ in Penang that we heard of are Ocean Green, Bali Hai and Pearl Palace. Our Friend, Wong  has his home town in Sarawak, and thus have the resources to acquire wild ‘Empurau’ from the Kapit region which is said to be to have the best quality fish in Malaysia.

Interested to try out the fish? please contact




Chinese Version:

马来西亚最贵河魚 – Empurau 忘不了, 槟城有得吃!


Hong Kong Day 1 Part 3 – The Seafood

Posted by Jason Wong On March - 19 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

Our first night in Hong Kong, we were treated to a scrumptious dinner on a floating fish farm(鱼排) which is just a stone’s throw from mainland China by Gill’s uncle-in-law. The seafood that we had were very fresh, in fact they still swimming in the sea when we were deciding the dishes that we wanted to try.

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When the boat touch base at the floating fish farm, we noticed that one of their clients had just caught a live cuttle fish. And the not so shy me started to get my gears ready to capture the not often seen, live, sea creature in Penang.



After taking a short walk through the fish farm and choosing the ingredients for the night, we settled down to our wobbling table. Each time a boat passes through the area, the whole place would wobble, but not too violently though. To quench our thirst, we got ourselves some beer and soft drinks that were foreign to our eyes. One of the beers that we had was ‘Blue Girl’, a German beer brewed in Hong Kong. This beer was smooth and malty. It had a slight sweetness to its end. Too bad it is not found in Malaysia, or else Carlsberg & Tiger would be knock out of spot by this German lass.


As the drinking started, the dishes also begun its course. The first to come was the poach cuttle fish. The cuttle fish flesh was tender and sweet, and when dipped into their soya sauce the sweetness was even more distinctively brought out by the saltiness of the sauce. In Penang, live cuttlefish is hard to come by the market place!



Then we had freshly harvested clams. The texture was firm and the taste was sweet and earthy, which the sauce did not overwhelm..



I am no a crab person, but when it come to tasting I will get my hands dirty. The crab that we had was definitely fresh as the flesh was still firm and juicy, taste wise it was sweet to the end.


Up next on the table was another clam species. This one was cooked with less heat in it, it had a nutty tasting sauce. This clam is almost similar to the ‘kappa’ that we have in Malaysia. It tasted sweet and earthy with a firm body.



On our diner list there were 2 types of scallops served, one seen here is the more common type that we may find in Penang or Malaysia which is the ‘Fan Scallop’ (扇贝).




Then there is the second type of scallop which shell looks like the horns of a bull and triangular in shape. This scallop dish was prepared by just steaming and then seasoned with their in-house sauce. Savory, nutty and sweet.



Then there is the fish, which we did not put much attention to as were almost full and were busy chit chatting and drinking. The only thing I can remember was that the fish was steam to just near cooked in the mid section. Thus, we were asked to start picking from the sides to the middle.


The ‘kailan’ with salted fish was a bit too salty and the texture was fiberish and chewy.


Chicken was different from our local chicken species. It had a yellowish skin colour and the meat firmer, but the version served here was just average, nothing to shout a bout.


Well that was the end of our first day in Hong Kong. Next up would be Day 2 and our exploration at Tai O and Tai Yu san.


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上个星期接到一个厨师朋友 Wong 的电话, 叫我们夫妻两人去他的餐馆茶。我们去到的他的餐馆, 他就问, 您是否听过, “Empurau”或“忘不了” 鱼吗? 那个香港食神梁文韜(韜韜)来馬來西亞品嚐那条几千令吉的河鱼呀?!

我回答说, 看过一些部落格和网上报刊几篇报道, 倒没见亲眼过如此贵的鱼!

他笑着对我们俩说, 我这里有! 给你独家放上网! 他二话不说就飞进厨房那着那条8公斤的野生“忘不了”出来给我们拍照. 我们瞪了瞪眼, 开心不已, 没想到可以”亲身体验”如此昂贵的鱼!!! 看了一会儿, 我们问, 他有什么特别呀? 别怪我们啊, 咋们不是行家, 看起来只不过是一条普通的鱼, 为什么它的价格会那么超贵?!

黄先生说Empurau翻译后的华文名称有 “忘不了” ,“往不了”,“恩不老”。Empurau是伊班名,英文名是“Mahseer”是大马目前最昂貴的河魚!

这野生Empurau由于愛吃風車果 (buah gabang), 因此其肉質帶有果香味及油脂, 口感極佳,沒魚腥味,肉質鮮美滑嫩香甜,入口即溶,擁有淡水魚中少見的特殊口感. “忘不了”的最佳煮法就是清蒸, 讓人一嚐難忘。而甲必Kapit河捕捉的野生“忘不了”更实属佳品。

野生 “忘不了”是目前最昂貴的河魚,更是每公斤叫價1600令吉至1800令吉。 河魚之王──“忘不了”(Empurau),主要在急流河中生長的生猛河鮮。由于野生河魚越來越少和難以捕捉,即使有錢,也未必吃到新鮮的“忘不了”。

黄先生是砂拉越人, 对这野生“忘不了”是有一定程度的认识。 有些吃过“忘不了”的人, 连它真正的一面也未成见过。 所以很多时候都会被骗, 也避免不了。单是提供给砂拉越人, 皇族和大官贵人已是供不应求, 就算是有錢都未必买得到。更别说是西半岛的我们吧?

黄先生辛托他的砂拉越 – 甲必(Kapit) 朋友先让出两尾 “白色”8公斤的野生“忘不了”, 要不然就寥寥无期。 单是运输就叫你冒汗, 想象一下, 从“忘不了”原產地, 乘搭直升機, 坐几個小時四輪驅動車到詩巫, 乘搭飛機到古晉, 转飛機到吉隆坡,最后才运到槟城。


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Empurau 鱼头,鱼唇,最棒!

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我和Empurau 忘不了, 哈哈哈

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Wong 和 Empurau 忘不了

Penang槟城, 现在有得吃大马最贵河魚 – Empurau 忘不了,还等什么? 现以每公斤1500令吉以上出售野生Empurau 忘不了.要一尝它的滋味? 请联络:






The Most Expensive Fresh Water Fish in Malaysia, Empurau (Mahseer)!












網上業界的譯法是“馬西爾魚”或“紅吉羅”。忘不了魚的用途可多了,它可以充作觀賞魚,魚油含有豐富的Omega成分,魚身曬乾后可制成化妝品。 “在大馬,我們只把這種河魚之王,送到餐桌上或是充作觀賞用途。”







網上業界的譯法是“馬西爾魚”或“紅吉羅”。忘不了魚的用途可多了,它可以充作觀賞魚,魚油含有豐富的Omega成分,魚身曬乾后可制成化妝品。 “在大馬,我們只把這種河魚之王,送到餐桌上或是充作觀賞用途。”







Siong Ho Fish Head Bee Hoon has ceased operation at Weld Quay in Penang and has moved to Johor.


Some months back, we were given the opportunity to taste the skills of Mr.Teh who had 20 years of experience in cooking fresh seafood noodle and porridge. And of course, using fresh seafood is a must in his rule. You can choose from the variety of ingredients available to create your own taste preference and bowl of noodle or porridge that you would like to enjoy. The food is prepare almost instantly upon your instructions and choice.

The available option of ingredients to choose from: Prawns, Crabs, Squids, Fresh Grouper Fish Head, Fresh Grouper Fillet, Fried Bass Fillet and Head, Frog, Minced Pork Meat, Pork Kidney, Meat Balls, Fish Ball and Fried Soy Bean curd Sheet

Noodle options to slurp for: Thin Rice Vermicelli, Thick, Rice Vermicelli, Wheat Flour Vermicelli (mee suah), Instant Noodles and Porridge.

Then the soup stock options to cook your choice ingredients in: Clear Soup & Tomyam. Pickled Salted Vegetable and fried garlic bits are used for the Clear Soup toppings.


Fresh Fish Fillets and other ingredients.


Fresh Naked Frogs, almost the same length with my palm


Big fresh white prawns


Perfectly fried sea bass fillets and fish heads.


The Boss of Siong Ho. Mr.Teh (Ah Ho) prepared the noodle for us personally.


We were served with Cold White Nutmeg Juice with Plum – RM1.70 per glass


Once the hot bowls arrived to the table the cameras were like bees to honey…. lol


Clear Soup with Fried Bass Fillet & Thin Vermicelli – RM5

The fish came in chunks rather in fillets; we can still taste the freshness from the fish meat although it has been deep fried. The clear Soup is pretty clear with some natural sweetness.


Prawn Tom Yam Soup with Instant Noodle – RM9 for 3 large prawns

Here comes the tom yam with big prawn. A point to put forth is that the tom yam soup is not so oily, and it taste milder and smoother compare to the others.

Based on Mr.Teh said he had the tom yam powder and paste further enhanced to achieve their version of tom yam that he wants to serve. I personally prefer this kind of tom yam with less oil with a smoother soup “texture”. I dare not consume the “Fiery” type of tom yam soup; I would easily choke and cough to death. 😛


Clear Soup with Prawn and Thin vermicelli – RM9 for 3 large prawns

You can taste the seafood ingredients’ sweetness in the soup!


Clear Soup with Squid & Instant Noodle – RM5

The squid was cooked to just the right firmness without the chewy texture. The combination was with instant noodles, which were soaked a little too long in the soup, and thus making them soggy. The instant noodles do not go well with squid.


Fresh Grouper Fillet Porridge – RM7.50

The grouper fillets were fresh and came in thick flaky slices. The Porridge they served here uses cooked rice that are further cooked in their clear soup stock with the selected choice ingredients to produce a piping hot bowl of porridge. Usually preserved vegetable or “dong chai” will be added in this type of porridge to give it a special sweet and salty flavour.


Frog Porridge – RM12 (RM6/100gms)

See the naked frog? The chunky frog meat tasted sweet and fresh. Is was far more tastier as compared the to the frogs that we had at “Sin Gelang Claypot Frog Porridge”.


we thought that was all, then came another batch of noodles….


Clear Soup with Crab & Thick Vermicelli – RM10 (RM5/100gms)

The sweet taste of the crab was in every mouthful soup that we had. Even with just a small sip of the soup, you could tell the distinctive crabbiness.


Clear Soup with Deep Fried Bass Fish Head &  Wheat Flour Vermicelli (mee suah)

I like the fried bass fish head a lot. It was tastier then the bass meat fillet that we had….heee


Mixed Seafood Tom Yam Soup – RM17  (based on selection of ingredients)

This mixed tom yam had additional fish, prawns, squid, meat & fish balls and oyster mushroom, and flavoured with extra mint leaves, chillies and tomatoes.


Jian with her lively picked crab say “cheese” before the crab say goodbye to the world….lol.

On average, I would rate :

Taste & Texture: 3.8/5
Money Value : 3.5/5
Service: 3.8/5
Cleanliness: 3/5
Atmosphere: 3/5

Personal liking Item/match:

1. Clear soup with bass fish head & thick rice vermicelli

2. Tomyam Soup with Prawn & Instant Noodle

107-A, Pengkalan Weld (Weld Quay), 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 12.00noon-11.30pm
Contact: 019-458 8693 (Mr. Teh/Ah Ho)

How to go:

If you are coming from the ferry terminal, keep an eye on the landmarks on your left, you can slow down your car or get a parking lot right after the Mixed Surname Jetty. The shop is just few doors away.


Kitchen Works: Fish Curry Prawns For Diner?

Posted by Jason Wong On August - 3 - 20096 COMMENTS

Last Thursday, there was an impromptu request to cook dinner; on the list were the aging prawns in our freezer. As prawns were not that fresh, the method would then be something that can over come this problem. The easiest way out would be curry, but the paste that we have was only for fish.

First thing I did was to shell the prawns and “freshen up” them with some sugar and corn flour. Then to the hot oil they go. The prawns were deep fried until just cooked so that any fishy taste would not affect the curry.



Before cooking the curry, we had to prepare some other additional such as onions, lemongrass and fresh tomato. The curry paste that we used was the fish curry paste from Mak Nyonya. The curry paste had a strong spice aroma, and lemongrass was quite predominant.



To begin cooking the curry gravy, I started to brown the chopped onions in the pot and oil used to fry the prawns earlier.


After the chopped onions were browned, they were transferred to another pot for further cooking process. Do not wash the frying pot, add some water to deglaze the pot and keep the sweet juices left by the prawns and onions.


In the new pot, put in the julienne onions and lemongrass and begin aromatise them in hot oil.


After the onions and lemongrass begin to emit their fragrances, add in the curry paste and continue stirring.


While still aromatising the curry paste, pour in the deglazed juices from the earlier pot. Remember not to pour everything at one go, too much would dilute the curry paste and flavours.


After the paste has reached the right consistency (according to what you like) and have begin to emit the curry fragrance, then it is time to add the coconut milk. No fresh coconut milk was available, so boxed type had to suffice. Boxed coconut milk does not have the taste and essentials that fresh coconut milk has.


The second last step is to pour in the tomatoes wedges.


After the tomatoes have softened, it is time to let the prawns join the curry gravy and let them soak up the spice and fragrance of the curry gravy ingredients.




The curry prawns’ textured was not bad although they have been kept in the freezer for almost six months. The sugar and corn flour helped to firm them up. The freezer was also played an important role. The taste of the curry was spicy with slight sweetness in it. Other than the curry prawns, we also had roast duck brought all the way from KL. The roast duck was sweet and tender although it had been on the road for a few hours.



Blue Reef-Revisited

Posted by Jason Wong On June - 15 - 200912 COMMENTS

Last Saturday on (13th June 2009) we revisited Blue Reef, the fish n’ chip joint at 32 Permai off Vale of Tempe that we visited early this year. The revisit to Blue Reef was partially to meet a friend and also to find out whether their quality food is still consistent to that we had early this year. We had to find out for our selves because we have read some ‘not so good’ comments of the place.

It has been almost 6 months since we set foot in Blue Reef, and we didn’t know what to expect from them. Not much has changed since then, the only thing that we notice is the little drawings that were pasted on one side of their wall. It is good to see that our ideas were accepted and used, but the actual idea was to have the photos of patrons and their fun moments captured and enshrine on their wall. At least the idea was used in some way!

Currently there is an offer for a full meal option, excluding dessert, for an additional RM1. It is a good promotional strategy at this current economy phase. Many are looking for bargain and money saving deals for their daily needs and wants. With an additional RM 1 added to the cost of the chosen main course, I was served with a glass of ice-lemon tea and a bowl of the soup of the day.

The soup of the day that we had was their green pea soup. It tasted kind of earthy, nutty and sweet. There was some sandy texture to the soup which I find to my liking. Served with the soup, was piece toasted garlic bread. On seeing it, we thought that the bread would hard to consume due to the thicker shaped. But surprisingly the bread was quite manageable because it was crisp on the surface and moist and soft inside. Thus, it was not crumbly and hard to bite into.


For the main course, I had their Salmon Burger. The flaky salmon patty was well caramelised on the surfaces and yet retaining the juicy moisture. The seasoning of the salmon meat was well choreographed as it did not totally overwhelm the distinct taste of salmon. The crisp and soft sesame seed bun and the sauté onion toppings was a good combination to the salmon patty. There was only one thing that I felt bad about the burger was the amount of tartar sauce. I would personally leave the tartar sauce out and may be sauté the onions with some balsamic vinegar to give the burger some added flavour.



Gill had their Aglio e Olio as usual. But it was a bit of a disappointment for her because they have substitute the pork bacon for the anchovies as they are now a pork free restaurant. With the anchovies, it tasted a bit weird to us. We asked Chris why not use beef bacon, and he told us that it did not have enough flavour. Anyway, I guess we would be going back for try their Aglio e Olio again because the Chris mentioned that they might change it to Seafood Aglio e Olio. The previous trip to Blue Reef, the Aglio e Olio was excellent and the pasta strands were firm and springy.


Our friend had their famous fish n’ chips and their Caesar salad. One of the not so good comments that we read was that the batter for the fish n’ chips were a soggy. But from the looks of our friend’s serving, it was perfectly coated and deep fried till gold brown. Although minutes have passed, the beer batter coat was still firm and crisp. And the serving portion for below RM20 was, as my friend puts it, value for money. He said in Kuala Lumpur the portion would have cost him at least RM35.



As for his Ceasar salad, I am not the position to comment as I did not taste it.


At the end of the lunch cum discussion, our friend ordered their Orange Crème brûlée. Crème brûlée is a rich custard dessert topped with a layer of hard caramel that is formed by the burning of sugar by any means of heat source. Traditionally the custard base is normally flavoured with just vanilla, but at Blue Reef they have prepared their version flavoured with orange. The cream was not too dairy or creamy, and sweetness was just at the right note. But the caramelise sugar coating was slightly coarse for the silky smooth textured custard. May be fine sugar should be used instead.


On average, I would rate Blue Reef:

* 4.1/5 for value
* 3.7/5 for taste & texture (because of having to choose pork free)
* 4.1/5 for service (Chris and his staffs are always attentive to our comments)
* 4.1/5 for cleanliness(still clean and neat after in bussiness for more than 6 months)
* 3.7/5 for atmosphere

Address : Permai 32, No.22 Lebuh Lembah Permai 4, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

Tel : 04 8999128.

Business Hours : 11.30am – 2.30pm and  6.30pm – 10.30pm. Closed on Mondays.

GPS Coordinate : N 05*27?16.38?   E 100*17?25.4?


What do left-over ingredients like sea cucumbers, bacon chips and ABC soup mean to me? EXPERIMENT! The raw sea cucumbers were left idle in the freezer since Chinese New Year and the bacon chips were acquire like two to three months back, couple with no other fresh vegetables and meat produce on hand I decided to make a quick dish out of these idle ingredient sitting in the freezer.

First thing is to do is to thaw the sea cucumbers, then boil it in just hot water and a few pieces of ginger to remove that fishy smell and taste. After boiling for a few minute, transfer it in to a colander to drip dry. Then it is time to put the thawed bacon in to a dry warm pan. Why dry warm pan? This way I would reduce the oil splatter. When the bacon is dry add in the cooking oil (was using peanut oil) and cook them till brown after which throw in a few cloves of garlic (here was using only 3).



After the bacon chips are brown or firmed up and the garlic starting emit that garlicky aroma, pour in the sea cucumber and stir fry until the liquid dries up. When the liquid is evaporated, I proceed to scoop some spoonfuls of last nights ABC soup to braise and further tenderise the sea cucumber and also to infuse more flavour into the sea cucumbers. The ABC soup is actually soup made of carrot, potato, onions, meat and flavoured with crushed white pepper corns. This time the soup had an added ingredient of sweet potato. In a way, this soup could also be used as soup stock to cook other dishes if the pepper corn is left out. 




When the soup is almost fully evaporated, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and flavour with some oyster sauce. 


Once the soup is all evaporated and what are left are just oil and some gravy, it is time to remove the pan from the flame and serve. We actually left the oily gravy in the pan and tossed our instant cooked noodles in it. Then we had the sea cucumber and bacon chips with our noodle. It was better than using the powdered seasoning that came with the noodles. And that was what we had for dinner! 



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