Eatery dishing up 220kg monster fish

2m-long grouper caught off Borneo can feed up to 700 people, says chef
Rebecca Lynne Tan Straits Times 17 Jul 10;

The grouper was so heavy, it took five men to lift it out of a van yesterday. Mr Tan (second from left) paid $6,000 for it and he is confident loyal customers will flock to his restaurant in Balestier Road to feast on it. He said: 'A fish this size is a rare treat.' -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

CUSTOMERS at a small Chinese restaurant in Balestier Road will soon be dining on a rare catch - a giant grouper that tips the scales at 220kg.

The chef-owner of Second Kitchen, Mr Johnny Tan, paid $6,000 for the blackfin Queensland grouper, which was caught off Borneo early on Thursday morning.

And he has plans to cook all of it, from head to tail. Fins, scales, gills - the lot.

The gargantuan fish has a girth of 1.52m, and at 2.01m in length, is just 30cm shorter than basketball star Yao Ming.

The fish was air-flown from Sabah yesterday morning and taken to the restaurant in the afternoon, where it took five men to lift it out of the van and onto a table.

Bangladeshi businessman M. Shahjahan Hafiz, 58, who was passing by, stood gobsmacked as he watched the enormous fish being hoisted out of the van.

He said: 'I've never seen anything like this - it is taller than me.'

Mr Tan, who also owns Grand Atlantis Seafood Restaurant at Marina Country Club in Punggol, said getting hold of a grouper weighing more than 100kg is uncommon, although three weeks ago, he bought a 150kg specimen for $3,000 and sold all of it within three days.

He is confident this giant will sell just as fast.

'I have a lot of loyal customers who enjoy grouper. Once I tell them it is here, it will sell in no time,' he said in Mandarin.

His heart skipped a beat when he received a phone call in the wee hours of Thursday morning from a fisherman informing him of the gigantic catch. He agreed to buy it without any hesitation.

A fish this size can feed up to 700 people, he estimated, with restaurant prices starting from $60 per kilogram.

The meat of a giant grouper caught in the wild is chewy, yet tender, while the meat of one bred in captivity is often softer in texture, said Mr Wei Han-hsin, 54, who has been breeding grouper for the past 20 years in Taiwan. He also owns a 3,000 sq ft grouper farm in Pasir Ris.

He reckons this fish is about seven years old.

The most sought-after parts include the eyes, throat and dorsal fin. The skin is also highly prized because of its thick and dense layer of fatty collagen.

The eyeballs, a popular Chinese delicacy, weigh about 3kg each and can serve 10. The dish will set diners back $400.

The restaurant usually serves groupers of 40kg to 50kg, which can provide more than 100 servings.

Mr Tan said: 'I have seen only eight or nine groupers that weigh more than 100kg in the past 20 years since I opened my restaurant in Bishan in 1990.

'A fish this size is a rare treat.'

Straits Times 17 Jul 10;

NO PART of the giant fish will go to waste, says Mr Johnny Tan, the chef-owner of Chinese restaurant Second Kitchen in Balestier Road.

He plans to cook everything, from the grouper's lips and eyes to its fins and throat. Prices start at $10 a serving, depending on the section of the fish.

# Eyeballs

Quantity available: Two

Weight: About 3kg each

Price: $400 each

What: Each eyeball is about the size of a football and is double-boiled for three hours with orange cordyceps, then served in a light broth.

# Lips and mouth

Quantity available: About 12 servings

Price: $120 per kg

What: These are stewed in a claypot with garlic, spring onions and chilli.

# Throat

Quantity available: One

Weight: 1kg

Price: $300

What: This part is sought after for its full flavour and firm texture. It is boiled and simmered with mushrooms.

# Scales and bones

Quantity available: About 50 servings

Price: $20 for a two-person serving

What: The scales and bones are simmered for 36 hours in a secret blend of herbs and spices.

# Abdomen

Quantity available: 12 servings

Price: $14 for a one-person serving

What: The meat from the abdomen area is fried, then simmered for 30 minutes before it is tossed in a sauce made with chicken stock and oyster sauce.

# Fins

Quantity available: About 20 servings

Price: $45 for a two-person serving

What: The fins are simmered for 30 minutes with garlic, spring onions, ginger, chilli and other fresh herbs.

# Fish meat

Quantity available: Over 400 servings

Price: $30 for a four-person serving

What: The fish is steamed Cantonese-style with soya sauce. Diners can also opt for a plate of fish hor fun, which costs $10 a serving.


FISH breeder Wei Han-Hsin, 54, found himself a good 40cm shorter than this Queensland grouper caught off Sabah. It was 2.01m long, with a circumference of 1.52m round its belly and weighed 220kg. Every part of it will be on the menu at a Balestier Road restaurant. Chef-owner Johnny Tan paid $6,000 for the giant, and expects his loyal customers to slurp up stewed fish lips, eyeballs in broth, scales simmered in herbs and spices, and much more.