Writeup and photos by Alu Alu Kitchen
Bak kut teh is a Chinese soup dish, usually served with pork or sometimes with chicken. Sabah, with fresh seafood in abundance, also has potential to popularise seafood bak kut teh in particular with rabbitfish or “laimang”. Rabbitfish gets their name from their rounded blunt snout and rabbit-like appearance of the jaws. However, they may not be as harmless as rabbits as they have venomous glands in their fins and can cause great discomfort if not handled properly. Sometimes rabbitfish comes with muddy taste, as being opportunistic omnivorous feeders, they forage for food everywhere. However, despite all this, rabbitfish has a smooth and fine texture.
Alu Alu Kitchen which is famed for its organic vegetables and chemical-free fishes is now proud to offer live “laimang” yu kut teh in Kota Kinabalu with a choice of two chicken-based soups, pepper or “tong kui” (dried roots of Angelica sinensis).
These fishes are kept live in the aquarium and only upon request, would be sent to the kitchen, to be prepared and served. This ensures ultimate freshness that justifies the long and tedious process in producing this fish which is also known as belais in Malay.
Over at the Bayu Aquaculture fish hatchery in Tuaran, that is operated by a sister company of Alu Alu Kitchen, these rabbitfishes are kept in clean filtered water in nursery tanks from young. Rabbitfish is actually omnivorous and from early stage of their life, they are fed with fresh fish. These fresh fishes are carefully selected and washed before tediously tied together and hung in the tank. The mouth of rabbitfish is small so the young juveniles are able to slowly nibble and feed on the fish until to the bones! After reaching 7cm to 8cm in length, these juveniles are meticulously transferred into suspended cages in pristine water for their grow-out phase.
During this grow-out stage, the rabbitfish are exposed closer to nature and beside continuing with the fresh fish as their main diet, they are supplemented with fresh luscious algae that grows on the fish net cage that is holding them. The fresh algae contains high mineral and supplements to their basic diet of protein from the fresh fish. After eight months, these rabbitfish are harvested and transported live to Alu Alu Kitchen. The farm strictly prohibits the usage of chemical or growth hormone in the entire process from the nursery tanks to the day it is harvested.
Chef Kiong and his team take pride in mixing their own herbs and ingredients to produce a perfect yu kut teh chicken-based soup of either pepper or “tong kui” to go with these fresh, smooth “laimang”. You only need to taste it to appreciate the whole process the team puts in from the young juveniles stage in the fish hatchery, right up to the table.
Alu Alu Kitchen
Address: Jalan Kolombong, Kolombong/BDC Industrial Estate, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
open daily from 10am to 3pm and from 6pm to 10pm.
For reservations, please call 088-230842.