March 23, 2016
Sibu Tales : Ikan Lumek
Ikan lumek is a very soft bodied fish. But when eaten fresh it is very very nice in a soup with Chinese tang hoon and lots of green onions.
This fish is often smoked and sold in the markets by the Melanaus. The smoked fish can be roasted and pounded to make a nice ingredient for sambal, a tasty condiment to go with rice and a salad.
By as young children we loved the way mum tried to stretch her proverbial dollar in the olden days. She would be a few katis of ikan lumek for just under 2 dollars. She would butterflied the fish and marinate them for a while. And then she would deep fry the fish. It was very very crunchy and taste. We ate everything including the bones. It is a very white and tasty fish.
Whenever we deep fry ikan lumek we would remember our old neigbhour whom mum found to be a good person to talk to. Old Moo (Old Mother) was a widow with many children and she lived across the road from us.
Just before lunch she would come over for a cup of tea and mum, if she was frying this fish, she would give her a big one and she would slowly eat the fish in a very delicate manner while praising my mother for her good heart. Old Moo was always very appreciative. If she had nothing to do, she would come over after her nap and stay with my mum until it was her family's dinner time.
Being illiterate and a child bride, she had suffered a great deal of abuse but in her later life when her children prospered, she did enjoy some good years. Mum was always her counsellor telling her how best to live life. By then we had moved away and she too had moved away.
In a way I do miss having Old Moo at our home. I do miss hearing her say, " Sing Nang Neo si guo hor lor. Guo tiang ngui lor..." (The wife of the teacher is so kind. She really cares for me) my father was more a teacher than a towkay in our community. So mum was away Sing Nang Neo.
And Sing Nang Neo is so much more affectionate than towkay neo in my opinion.
There are other stories realted to the eating of deep fried ikan lumek.