HELLO folks! In this edition of the Food Trail, I have a little story about the Loong Tan or Estuary Garoupa.
For the uninitiated, this saltwater fish is one of the largest of its kind in the garoupa family.
It begins its life cycle as a fry along the river mouth and the adult can grow up to 50kgs.
So, okay, that being said, what is the big deal about the Loong Tan?
Back in the early days, fishermen who trawled the depths of our seas would have to beg people to buy their oversized garoupas.
If no sale was made, the fish would be mashed up and turned into fertiliser.
Thanks to chefs in Hong Kong, however, the Loong Tan can now fetch as much as RM110 per kg.
What was deemed as trash is now almost worth its weight in gold.
The fish is preferred for its jelly-like skin and its meat which has a steak-like texture.
Unlike the smaller table-sized garoupas, the Loong Tan is sought for choice morsels like its skin, fins and filleted flesh.
Now, K.Y. Lau, my father in-law, is a big fan of the Loong Tan.
And his never-ending quest for a good meal ended up at WK restaurant in Section 19, Petaling Jaya.
We made a trip there and tried out two things: steamed Loong Tan head and stir-fried garoupa liver and guts with ginger.
Before I go into the details, let me first say that eating this fish is not a cheap affair.
For a plate of steamed fish head, it is RM75 per serving while the fried fish guts and liver are sold at RM25.
And since this is a specialty dish, the ingredients are sourced fresh.
But before I get slammed by enviromentalists, the garoupas served at the restaurant are farmed.
Ah Heng, the owner of WK restaurant whom I had the pleasure to meet, said the fishes were brought in from Pulau Ketam in Selangor and some came from as far as Sabah’s coastal waters.
He said the Loong Tan can only be farmed in tropical seas like what we have in Malaysia.
“You know ah, the techology to produce the garoupa fry was perfected in Taiwan, but they couldn’t breed the fish there.
“Only the waters off Sabah and Pulau Ketam are suited as a habitat for the Loong Tan,” he added.
Okay, technical details aside, how did the Loong Tan fare?
I tried this twice and I must say that my RM75 was well-spent.
The steamed Loong Tan head fared at 6 out of 10 on the Samo-scale.
And the liver with fish guts?
Well, this one, for its unique taste, scores a high 8 out of 10.
Apart from the steamed garoupa dishes, other noteworthy side orders are the fishball soup, fried fish cake and Loong Tan noodles.
WK restaurant opens for lunch and dinner daily and is located near Greenview restaurant in Section 19, Petaling Jaya.
The GPS coordinates for this makan place are: N 03 07 098, E 101 37 754.