Claypot Tamarind Hot Stingray, MELAKA

A long time ago, on Quayside, Melaka, there was a wet market. This wet market no longer exist today. The landscape of this location has unfolded to an elegant site for everyone day or night by Casa del Rio. Activities at the wet market started from night to late afternoon everyday. The midnight guys who worked at the wet market would get hungry after heavy work. They would need something to fill their hunger.

A couple who thought if they set up a stall in a corner within the wet market, those workers would have something to eat. At that time, long ago, it was hard to get food come midnight, what more after midnight in a 'sleepy' town. But today, Melaka is no longer sleepy after UNESCO unfolds her heritage and foods are available round the clock. Because of hunger, in a very long time ago, workers bought food from afar. Those were the days.

The couple then started to prepare a simple dish called the Claypot Tamarind Hot Stingray or in Malay Language, the Assam Pedas Ikan Pari. As he cooked and she served their customers, lorries would reverse onto their parking bays and loads of fishes, vegetables, chickens, groceries and many other kind farming items were unloaded. These lorries would arrive at different time of the day, beginning from about 9 pm to the next morning even after sunrise.

One usually get to the wet market after sunrise but for those who are in businesses related to that of the wet market, they would gather their raw essentials as early as the night wet market starts and as late as the wet market closes for the day. Only those who'd gone to the wet market on such time would get the chances of watching a junk or two sailing in from the mouth of the Melaka River. The junk brought in all types of fresh catches of the sea. The lorry drivers, fishermen from the junk and the wet market workers thus were their first batch of customers.

Was the Assam Pedas Ikan Pari nice ? Needless to say. The stingrays used were from the junk that return from the sea of the Straits of Melaka. Their secret recipe fortified the taste. Each serving makes the customer smile and soon words of the Assam Pedas Ikan Pari ripples through the once sleepy town of Melaka. By the time it was shared to me, I was already in my late twenties and the stall has already operated for more than a decade. Though the words ripples from mouth to ear, news of such delicious dish could not be promoted at a speed what Facebook, Instagram, or Blogger is feeding each second, every seconds 24 hours a day.

Though it was late to try the Assam Pedas Ikan Pari then, people whispered that the flavours has improved over a decade. Through tries and errors, the couple has learned how to allow the flavours to suppress and complement between the ingredients and the fresh stingray. Today, it has gained the title of the 'Must Eat Dish'

by Daniel Ong

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