The bertutu or haruan (Malay) is a very tasty fish and is popularly known as Soon Hock in West Malaysia. In East Malaysia it is known as Bertutu or Ikan Paloi. Why is it called Paloi or Stupid Fish? In the olden days a bertutu might be hooked by a fisherman but managed to escape because of its strength. However it would come back to eat another worm and get hooked again. It is very slow in nature and it does not swim away when a predator comes. Often a farmer can even use his own hands to catch a good sized Ikan Paloi.
The Bertutu is called Marble Goby or Oxyeleotris marmorata because of its skin colouration. It is native to the fresh waters of the Mekong and Chao Praya basins, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.
For many years now, in Sarawak, the Bertutu is a respected fish as it is believed to have healing properties and is best eaten after surgeries or childbirths. Brand's has made essence out of the bertutu. These bottled essence are popular gifts for the sick and the elderly.
Interestingly it is not commercialized, hence the wild bertutu often fetches very high prices when they are caught live!!
When steamed, its white flesh is extremely silky and tasty. It does not have any muddy or fishy smell.
All photos by Sarawakiana.