April 11, 2013

Salted Jelly Fish from Rajang Delta (Sarawak)

In the 1930's till the Japanese Occupation, the Foochows did a roaring business with the fishermen of the Rajang Delta regions. Small wooden boats plied between the mouth of the Rajang and Sibu, the Foochow town which needed sea products. The Foochows are a people who lived by the sea in China and favoured sea products.
Thai style salted jelly fish salad
Salted jelly fish from the Rajang delta found a new market, so did salted fish , nipah salt and nipah sugar. The middlemen who plied in their boats stopped at Ensurai for example to off load tins and tins of these sea products at Hock Kwong which was owned by my maternal grand uncle Lau Kah Tii and managed by my uncle Lau Sing Chiong.

A kerosene tin of jelly fish was only $1.20 while the coolie salary was only $10.00 per month. The coolie could have a whole month's food catered for $4.50. $200 worth of savings was a huge sum of money.

My mum remembers how good it was to get food from the boats . Freshly salted fish was heaven sent and as children her generation remembers such good sea food. But once the price of rubber fell due to international depression and also the Japanese occupation, that wonderful life was gone.

the foochows of the Rajang Valley had to look elsewhere for good business other than padi planting, rubber growing and fish business.

Hence those who were involved with timber extraction,export,international sales,veneer production, re-selling,overseas exploration and development in the 1950's began a new era of business boom which has continued to grow.


William said...

Ya, I was trying to figure out the cost of a 4 gallon tin of jelly fish. Those were poor man food.

Do you know the price now? I almost fainted the other day when I saw the price! It is now RM32 per kg! A delicacy which I would not even consider to touch it.

Stenographer said...

Yes I know..William. That's why my mum and I have been talking about this jelly fish dish which we love. In the olden days people even "sneeze" at people who ate jelly fish. Now the price is too KINGLY.

sarawaklens said...

Sometimes when I go to Sematan beach, I find large jelly fish washed up ashore especially after a thunderstorm. There could be hundreds of them as you will find several along a short stretch. Wonder if those are ever collected.

Oh BTW my blog's URL has changed back to the default sarawaklens.blogspot.com
Hoping to get back into blogging :)

Stenographer said...

Hi, nice to hear from you. Hoping to read more of your writing....

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