Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ikan Senangin

According to the Aquatic Dictionary, there are several definitions of Senangin = Eleutheronema tetradactylum; Polynemus paradiseus;p Polydactylus sextarius; Plotosus canius

There is always some confusion about this family of fish. To the uninitiated like me, I would find it hard to differentiate between a kurau or a senangin. The English articles confuse me even more. So I hope the anglers would help me out, especially those who fish in West Malaysia and Singapore. The fishermen in Sarikei would probably be very well versed in these two kinds of fish, favourites of the Foochows.

However, here I will just stick to "Senangin or threadfins" are silvery grey perciform marine fish of the family Polynemidae. Found in tropical to subtropical waters throughout the world, the threadfin family contains nine genera and 33 species. An unrelated species sometimes known by the name threadfin, Alectis indicus, is properly known as the Indian threadfish (family Carangidae).
Ranging in length from 20 centimetres in the black-finned threadfin (Polydactylus nigripinnis) to 200 centimetres in fourfinger threadfins (Eleutheronema tetradactylum) and giant African threadfins (Polydactylus quadrifilis), threadfins are both important to commercial fisheries as a food fish, and popular among anglers. Their habit of forming large schools makes the threadfins a reliable and economic catch.
Their bodies are elongate and fusiform, with spinous and soft dorsal fins widely separate. Their tail fins are large and deeply forked; this is an indication of their speed and agility. The mouth is large and inferior; a blunt snout projects far ahead. The jaws and palate possess bands of villiform (fibrous) teeth. The most distinguishing feature of the threadfins are their pectoral fins: they are composed of two distinct sections, the lower of which consisting of between 3-7 long, thread-like independent rays. In Polynemus species there may be up to 15 of these modified rays.
(Source : Wikipedia)

The fish is also called Senangin in Malay is a dearly beloved fish to both the Chinese and the Malays. Pricey and tasty the fish was usually used for homecooking in the past. Today, fish served in restaurants and hawker stalls are carp,promfret, tilapia,etc because they are nice looking and easily fill up a large dish. However the senangin has also become a favourite fish in hawker stalls when in season.

According a chef, since the senangin is rather long, it is usually cut into small pieces and is good for soups. It is not often deep fried as a whole if it is too big.
So at home we usually had it cut into three pieces (the head part, the stomach part and the tail part) if it is more than two kilos. My mother would cook the fish in different styles (a choice of steamed, boiled,fried, sweet and sour, soya sauce, soya bean sauce,etc) over the week. We seldom ate the fish whole as it would be too extravagant. This fish was favoured in my childhood because it was fairly affordable, not bony at all and very tasty.
WE had a fishmonger friend whom we called, Bae Hu Lang. Today in retrospect, I would say that we were not at all politically correct to call him that. But he liked our family so much that he would even deliver the best fish to our house in Kung Ping, riding his bicycle. My mother and he would converse in Hokkien. My mother using her blend of Foochow Hokkien and he would be speaking his perfect Hokkien.
Bae Hu Lang and his brother Ah Boon of the fish stalls were two of our favourite businessmen in town because they were honest, kind, cheerful and helpful. Bae Hu Lang, the older brother, who called the shots at that time, in particular, was a man of compassion and generous to boot. If I went looking for fish to buy I would only look for him because I knew I would never be cheated by him.
He would choose the fish for me, weigh the fish with his daching and perhaps give me a big discount. And once in a while he would just put a fish in my basket and say, "This is for your mother. She is a good woman. No need to pay."
Remembering that still brings tears to my eyes. In this world you don't have many kind business men like him . And to get a free gift is just so memorable when you were sensitive , young and uninitiated in the cruel world of trading.
He was one of the very few Hokkiens we called friend at that time, as we
Foochows are so paraochial.
So a blend of Foochow Hokkien would sound like this:
(Foochow -Hokkien) Si Ni Ngor Ngii?
(Hokkien) Si, ji leh si Ngor Hu. Hor, chih.
(Fooochow-Hokkien)Gua meh siong sing.
(Hokkien) Lu ai siang sing gua lah.
(Foochow Hokkien) A seh lah, gua meh lah..
(Hokkien) kam siah, ai sai lah...kah pien yii
(Foochow) pien yii ju hor loh...gua lang Hock Chiew lang a su ka pien yeh.Kan siah, kan sia.
Hokkien : Kam Sia, Ah Um....
(Foochows basically do not have the Hokkien "m" when they speak Hokkien" Please forgive me for this humourous piece.)
If any one has news of Bae Hu Lang (fairer and larger) or Ah Boon(darker and slimmer) please let me know. It has been more than 20 years since I bought a fish from them. It is a pity I never knew their full names to kirim salam.

3 memories:

CT said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. Great post, concise and easy to understand. I like this post..
I found out that this blog is very interesting and informative.
Best of luck to you!

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Anglers Belong said...

You should continue posting again...anglers like us need more infos about our local fish.

Leo Lee said...

search for senangin & kurau.


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