Kway Chap and coffee


Wet Market on a Saturday morning – prawns

Managed to identify this prawn as Melicertus latisulcatus from this useful resource on food. It’s vernacular is the Lum Bueh (Hokkien) or blue tail. Another vernacular is the Sua Beh or sand horse.

Fishmonger said this has a crunchy texture. They are a pretty sight though and probably why I got it. Do all prawns taste the same? Probably subtly different. $15 for a kilo. Now I wonder if they are sustainably harvested or farmed?

They have a preference for the sand so they can hide in it to avoid predators.

Maybe that’s why the prawns that belong to the Sua Lor (sand prawns) group have a crunchy texture.

Fresh sardines

I first tasted fresh sardines in London. It’s hard to come by in Singapore and I thought it must be only found in the Med but apparently, it’s caught regularly up north but not worth exporting it over to SG.

But by some luck, it was there at the Bishan North Mall wet market.

They looked fresh enough!

Now to bake some bread to go with it.

“If catch is decreasing this low down the food chain, prepare to eat algae”

Went to the fish market at Shunfu today.  Look at the fresh fish presented – ready to be cooked for some sumptuous and heart-healthy meal at home for the wife and kids.    

 Of course my thoughts go to possible mercury or other sorts of heavy metal  accumulation possible in seafood.  Then what about the prawns I bought, easy to cook and add some proteins in a stir fry with mushrooms or Kai lan.  Demand for prawns has led to many natural mangroves being cleared.  The industry is sinister when you think how a biodiverse mangrove which acts as a nursery for fish fry and immature crustaceans is cleared just to husband a single species of prawn.
Then there is this concept of “sustainability” that gets bandied around fashionably.  Have we even seriously thought about what it actually means?  Otterman is teaching a module on that and so naturally, it gets featured in conversations.  I asked for the identity of this fish, and it turns out to be the Indian Mackerel.  Nice oily fish that can be baked with some sea salt rubbed on to the skin and eaten with sambal belachan.

He returns the enquiry with this 

” Indian Mackerel (Rastrelliger kanagurta), a common, coastal pelagic species, plankton feeder typically found in large schools. Two other species, with four species of Scomber comprise the “true mackerels”.
Listed in Red List – no data but one Indian report says landings have decreased by 50%.

Worldwide reported landings are increasing, so effort assumed to be increasing. Marketed fresh, frozen, canned, dried salted and smoked.

You’ve given me a good idea of how to present the subject for sustainability – examine major fish in local canteens, take picture (students can relate) and look at FAO, Red List reports.

If catch is decreasing this low down the food chain, prepare to eat algae.”

The Mackerel basically is food for other fish since it feeds on plankton so the fact that it is down the food chain literally means the fish higher up the chain will dwindle significantly by several factors since many mackerels would feed one predatory fish.  Eat algae.

World Wildlife Fund for Nature has a comprehensive guide if you want to be more conscious and channel your consumer demand away from fish that are in serious trouble.  

The Singapore Seafood Guide

The guide is useful.  It could do with some illustration to guide people about the fish we buy.  I don’t think this generation know what fish is what in the first place.  Anyway, I guess if we think we can’t make a difference – think about how shark’s fin has become taboo.


How important is it to revisit your old roots!  Did some really enjoyable research work in FRIM.   I don’t have to imagine the sun flecks, cicadas and tall trees in their presence.