...and it doesn't smell too nice. We don't mind.
It's shrimp season on Pulau Ketam, a little island off the coast of Klang. A few weeks ago, needing a collective break from our computer screens, we rolled out of bed before the sun was up, hit the road, and arrived at the jetty in time for the 8:45am ferry.
As soon as we'd pedaled past the two-block 'downtown' (a bicycle's the way to go here) we began to notice shrimp - on front porches and back porches, tables and chairs, sidewalks and sheets of plastic suspended above the ground - laid out to dry in the sun. Who knew shrimp has a season?
On the Teochew half of the island we came across a woman tending to her crustaceans, which were spread out on the wooden decking in front of her house.
She swept them into a pile in the middle of the space, then into a dustpan, and lifted the pan high, shaking the shrimp back out onto the deck. This ensures that they dry evenly, she said. She does it once a day.
How long does it take the shrimp to thoroughly dry? I asked. She looked at me like I was an idiot. Depends on the sun, of course. This batch had been out for two days.
"These are Malaysian shrimp, not Indonesian," Ms. Chua assured us (Is there a difference?), "and I don't add salt, preservatives, or any coloring. Have a look - my shrimp aren't so red like others."
Good enough for us. We purchased half a kilo (opening photo) to take home. Sure enough, they're honestly delicious - not too salty, with true prawn flavor. A little bit sweet, even. I've yet to cook with them; we've just been eating them out of hand as a snack.
Thank you, Ms. Chua (shown here, in front of her beautifully painted house, with one of her sons).
Ms. Chua and her shrimp can be found at 113A Bagan Teochew, Pulau Ketam.