The Haruan fish is a member of the snakeheads family. The bigger, more popular specie is the Toman and Haruan is the smaller version. Now, the name itself – snakehead – already is self-descriptive. The haruan fish (“sang yue” in cantonese) is believed to have wound-healing properties and it’s a common “prescription” among Chinese, especially for women who have just given birth or anyone who’s had surgery. It’s been documented that the meat of this fish contains high levels of essential amino acids and a good profile of fatty acids that improves tissue growth and wound healing. Most Chinese would double-boil the haruan fish with some herbs to harvest and savour its medicinal properties.
Another way to fully enjoy this fish is to steam it. The flesh of the haruan fish is actually boneless and is sweet and tender. One of my absolute favourite places to enjoy this is at Yap Yin Restaurant, located in the town centre of Seri Kembangan. My family has been going to this place for its superb steamed haruan fish many years ago, way before I started this food blog! Recently we went there again and the quality of its food is still the same.
Here you can choose to have the fish steamed whole, or have it sliced into fillets – this is our preferred serving. Flavouring is limited to the use of top quality soya sauce and sprinklings of chopped chilli padi, fried shallots and sprigs of coriander leaves. Simplicity is the best… and that’s all that’s needed to bring out the full sweetness of the fish.
Every slice is tenderly succulent… eat it together with the aromatic garnishings… the chilli padi gives it an added kick and I assure you, you will need lots of rice with this!
We always ask them to use the skeletal bones and head of the fish to boil soup… our favourite being the Pickled Vegetables (“ham choy”) and Tofu Soup.
The fish head and bones renders the soup into a thick milky broth… the pickled vegetables and tomatoes give it that light sourish punch … the soup is delicious to the very last spoonful!
On the way in, we saw a huge basket of fresh live mud crabs… we couldn’t resist this, so we ordered their Crabs with Salted Eggyolk.
Their version is the dry version – every bit of the salted eggyolk is encrusted onto the shells and meat. The crabs had been deep-fried and you can actually eat it together with the crunchy shells. Salted eggyolks with curry leaves and chilli padi – they all combine in the most delectable way with the crustacaens … every crunch was a delight. Needless to say, there wasn’t a crumb left on the plate!
If you are a fan of Frog Legs, Yap Yin does a very decent “Ginger & Spring Onions” version. Thick fat succulent thighs sauted with slices of ginger and spring onions, full of “wok hei” … you can actually smell the aroma of this dish even before it’s put on the table!
We had a plate of fresh mushrooms that day, as recommended by the captain. Stir-fried lightly with onions, carrots and green peas, they were delicious!
Restoran Yap Yin … its signboard actually promotes its Bak Kut Teh and I guess most of its regular clientele would go for this. We ordered a small portion of this to try. I find it to be average … it is not as thick as the Klang version, which is my preference. They do have the intestines, done Klang-style though.
If you want to try their superbly-steamed Haruan fish, a drive down to Seri Kembangan will certainly be worth your while. I kid you not.
Restoran Yap Yin & Bak Kut Teh
No.1231 Jalan Sekolah
43300 Seri Kembangan
019-2198040 (Alex Yap)
Opens: 11.30am – 10.30pm
Directions: From the main road into Seri Kembangan, Jalan Besar, after Post Office and Hong Leong Bank (on left) at the traffic lights turn right into Jalan Sekolah – the restaurant is just on the right.