Back in my school days, we were taught that udang galah in Bahasa Malaysia meant lobster. I had no reason not to believe. Afterall, this was not from the teacher who told us that "leopard" was to be pronounced as leo-pard instead of lear-perd. We still make fun of her in our gatherings. Apparently, there's another meaning to udang galah - giant freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii). So, what is what? I don't know if there's such a thing as a freshwater lobster but one thing's for sure - it's darn delicious.
I come from a family that avoids ordering prawns in restaurants, Chinese especially, because it's exorbitantly priced. And that it's usually not as fresh as what we get at 5 am in the wet markets. Therefore, it's not surprisingly that we are not amazed by some of the famous (a.k.a. expensive) restaurants specializing in freshwater prawns in town.
This one's different. For that, I have some food blogging friends to thank. It was the only stop we made (apart from Kellie's Castle) en route to Penang, for our Nirvana Food Trip. Despite the name, it's not a vegetarian weekend excursion. In fact, I think we hardly touched any vegetable in that 48 hours of makan madness.
What we ordered were the typical cooking styles of prawns, as recommended by the restaurant. Cereal and butter prawns are all the rage for quite sometime now, but how often do we get good gorn jin (dry-fried in Cantonese) prawns these days? This is one old school dish that I've almost forgotten. Loved the aroma (mostly contributed by the amount of heat and oil applied) and like how olive oil is used for everything under the sun, the oily sauce was good enough to coat some white rice for some carbo indulgence. Of course, the sauces and ingredients can only enhance the dish that much. Ultimately, the prawns decide if it's worth the detours and slight fear of getting lost in an unchartered territory. Okay, not that serious lah, since Lyrical Lemongrass provided us with some love stories that took place in this little town along the way.
Growing up, I was told not to eat the heads of prawns. Not that it'll shrink my brains (like how eating pig brains is supposed to make me any cleverer) but because it's dirty. Here, not eating the head is a sin, I'd say. This is where the good stuff is! Addictive, smooth orange roe that will have you sucking like a hungry baby given a bottle of warm milk. The prawns were perfectly cooked too, proven by the tender and succulent flesh. I saw blocks of ice floating in the tanks where the prawns were kept. This must be another reason why the prawns tasted so fresh and alive. The dainty crabs are worth mentioning too, for that real umami taste.
We definitely came a long way in every sense but when everyone glowed at the first bite of the prawns, you know it's all worthwhile. And good omen too, of what's to come in the next 2 days.
Thanks again, Lyrical Lemongrass and Bald Eagle for organizing this wonderful trip. Masak-Masak did an excellent job in planning the makan itinerary. And Lotsofcravings, thanks for enduring my snores!
It's going to be Penang all this month, right here.
Gorn jin prawns
Orgasmic roe in each prawn
10, Jalan Besar
31800 Tanjung Tualang
Tel: (+605) 3600735