Saturday, March 15, 2008

eTAK oh eTOK

Fresh etak being soaked in water

kerp (ph.d) of Let's Go Land has been persistently asking me about etak, so to answer your questions about etak, I dedicate this post to you for being interested in this bivalves and hopefully one day you will get to taste it the way the Kelantanese has been enjoying it for generations. Kerp, this blog is dedicated to you.
Raykinzoku wrote a great informative piece about etak which he called etok (the way the Kelantanese called it is somewhere in between etak and etok) in his blog: Distinctively KeLaTte : ETOK This is how Ray describe the etak.
Etok is a small, pebble-sized, freshwater corbicula clam which lives at the bottom of rivers and canals, alongside scavanging fishes and crustaceans. Mostly found in the shallows and sandy parts of the river, they are least known or simply neglected by most Malaysians.
A very apt description. I can't do any better than that.Via his blog we now know that etok is not only found in Kelantan but also in other states of Malaysia and as faraway as Japan! Only thing I would like to add is it is found only in fresh waters and it is very sensitive to the quality of the water.
When I started schooling in 1957, I went to school in Kampong Kangkong about 5 miles from my home in Kg Chekok both in the district of Pasir Mas to live with my maternal grandparents. The river was our source of life. We get our water for cooking and drinking from there carrying by the pails. My being small I have to carry a small container which is a kettle. We depend almost everything that has got to do with water on the river. Washing, bathing and as the toilet. A floating raft complete with cubcles with a gunny sack of a curtain as the door was the public toilet! Transportation back then was by river boat plying downstream to Pasir Mas and around noon upstream back home. Tarred road only became available much later.
Above all that we get some of our food like freshwater fish and prawns and etak from the river too.
Every time we go to the river for whatever activities especially bathing where we will get wet, we will use the opportunity to collect some etak. Without the pengokok, we either use our hands or feet to search for them. To use the hands was easy provided the place is muddy and there is no pebbles in that area. Most of such areas are by the river bank and much deeper than the sandy area. The way we do it is to dive in and feel for the pebble like etak among the mud and throw them on the bank or put them in the part of the cloth we wore to cover our 'aurat'. I was considered to small then and can just dip in without covering the 'aurat'. The etok from muddy areas are usually darker in colour and larger. The sandy areas where the water flows mcuh faster the etak is of much lighter color and look very clean.
For the sandy areas usually towards the middle of the river where the water level is much shallower due to flat sandbank, etak can be collected by shifting the top 2 or 3 inches of the sand on the river bed to one side using our bare feet. If the etak were there they would be exposed and become visible to the naked eye provided the water is clear which was often the case in the olden days. The water should be shallow enough to bend down like you are in the roko' position when doing the prayers. Another condition is there must not be ripples on the surface of the water which was usually caused by the wind if it was a windy day. The ripples will prevent you from seeing the etak when it was exposed. During the dry spell some parts of the riverbed will be exposed. If it was recently exposed many etak will still survive and there are tell tale signs to show where the etak are. Digging it with the finger will expose it and if it is big enough, it will be collected. If the sandy river bed is exposed to the sun for too long the etak will die off.
Using the pengokok needs some strength.The pengokok is made of metal bars of about 2 mm diameter strung together with wires to form an open cage attached to a long bamboo or wooden pole for handle like in the picture below. A bamboo pole is preferred as it is lighter.
Syed Azmi demonstrating how the pengokok is used

Details of how the pengokok is made

It is like a sieve to filter out the smaller sands and keep the etak inside. Some pebbles that are larger than the gaps between the metal sieve will also be retained. At the stage where the etok and pebbles are caught in the pengokok, an expert can segregate the etak from the pebbles using the principle of differences of specific gravity between the etok and the pebbles and the water flowing through the sieve. While the non expert will have to collect the etak by sight. In places where the sand is fine, only the etak will remain in it.
My activities of collecting etok ceased after I went to an English school in Pasir Mas. The occassional weekend trip home didn't provide enough time for such activities. Only after 1981 when I started working with Kumpulan Fima and based in Kuala Besut that I began to go to Sungai Besut to collect the etak. The locals there who were mostly descendents from Kelantan knows how to collect and consume etak. So whenever I feel like having etak, a trip to the river near Kg Amir will yield enough etak for my small family.
Later in 1996 when we moved into our own house in Kg. Kasa, Pasir Mas that we were able to enjoy etak again. Kampong Kasa is located on the bank of Sungai Kelantan and lots of etak were found. They were gathered and cooked by roasting it on a small fire after marinating it in a paste made of salt, blended with lemon grass, shallots, ginger and garlic. I suspect monosodium glutamate is lavishly added. Some may deny using it entirely to entice those non MSG consuming etok lovers. The marinating process takes at least an hour.
Before marinating the etak it must be washed clean and soaked in clean water. The soaking will make the etak purge all sand particles and mud within itself which may make it feel gritty when eating it if it is not totally purged. Soaking it over a minimum of 3 hours is necessary and overnight will be best.
Washing the etak
Roasting platform
Lighting the fire.

As Ray correctly said it, etak are mainly used as light snack but some people use it as appetizer to go with their rice ecpecially nasi kerabu. It can also be taken as lauk which I will describe later.
Roasting over a small fire on a platform raised 2.5 feet above the floor. The platform is made of long split bamboo pieces spaced close enough to each other to prevent the etak from slipping through. Over a slow fire the etok are constanly turned with a piece of plank attached to a wooden handle. The constant turning over is necessary to ensure eveness of exposure to the heat below. An hour of roasting is enough. Overheating or too long an exposure can result in the split up and the flesh to dry up and become less succulent. If there are extremely large etak in the mix, they must be seperataed and roasted first before adding the rest to it.
Turning ove the etak

Other than roasting over a fire, the etak can also be roasted in the hot sun. Some people love it that way. This way will ensure that the flesh will be succulent enough. For those who make a living out of roasting and selling etok, the sun is not a reliable source of heat and the timing isn't suitable. Grilling job must be finished by the latest at 11 am for them to start selling.
Roasted etak or etak salai as the local term for it is highly hygroscopic due to the salt coating on its shell. The best container to keep it is a badang which has more surface area or a bakul. A badang is best. Both are made of plaited bamboo slices and so has better breathing quality compared to metal containers. Thus the etok will not become wet too soon due to the hygroscopic nature of the salt coating it. If metal containers are to be used, absorbing materials are necessary to be placed on the container before putting the etak in it.

A badang
Etak in a badang
Newspapers being very good material to absorb moisture is the best material to use as wrappers. Unfortunately the ink used for printing is hazardous to health and the sellers are often reminded by health inspectors to refrain from using newspapers as wrappers. If you care for your health, better don't buy them when they are wrapped in newspapers. If you still have to use newspapers, quickly transfer them to some other containers so as not to allow the newspaper ink to stick to the shell of the etak.
Etak salai can be taken as snack or as lauk with rice be it nasi kerabu or nasi putih.
Etak salai showing the succulent flesh.

Beside roasting, etok are also consumed by making it into a dish called sayur etok where the gravy becomes opaque like, after adding pounded shallots, garlic and crushed lemon grass with salt and sugar to taste. MSG can be used instead of sugar. For etak masak lemak, santan is used instead of plain water as in the case of sayur etak. Why the word sayur etak is used by the Kelantanese really confounds me. It must be the misuse of the word like they say makan air or makan rokok. Makan angin is of course a different matter altogether.
Etak sayur
Etak masak lemak

Eating sayur etok or etok masak lemak is easy as the shell will be split open when subjected to heat but eating etok salai is a different ball game altogether. To retain the flesh succulent, the shell must not be allowed to split. If it is splitted, the flesh will dry up.
Lots of practise is required to acquire the skill to open the shell of the etak. Unlike the cockles which merely needs sufficient force to open them, the etak is too small and smooth to grip the shell the way you do to cockles. The regular eaters will just use their teeth to split them using the incisors (the front teeth) without breaking the two sides apart. The shell should open outward with the hinged part intact. The next act is to suck out the flesh from the inner side of the shell. The ingredients sticking to the external part of the shell will give flavour to the flesh. That is why splitting it with the teeth always taste better.
Those without the incisors or using dentures can still enjoy etak salai as there are other means of opening it. Ray's mother taught him how to use the knife to open the shell to save his teeth from wearing out faster. In Ray's case his mother taught him to scrape the edge of the etak to reveal the slit between the two sides. Inserting the blade of the knife and twisting the blade to either side will open the shell. In my case I will just put the knife blade across the slit and slowly turning the blade to align with the slit with a little pressure will make the blade penetrate the slit. A slight twist of the blade will open up the shell.
Using the knife to open the shell

Using half a shell

If you dont have a knife around, using one half of the shell can be a substitute for the knife.Using the sharp edge of the shell, use it the same way as a knife. With some practise, it will get just as good as a knife and less dangerous.
My two grand daughters Lis 8 years old and As 6 yrs from Puchong which I used to call Budak Puchong in my earlier blogs is back in Pasir Mas for 2 months. We have introduced them to etak salai and they are learning up on how to open up the etak with their teeth. For the moment they could open them but the shells spilt apart. Give them abit more time they will soon get the hang of it.
Lis and her sister As enjoying etak

Etak salai can be purchased in many places like the markets and roadsides. Near my home in Kampung Kasar there is a special gerai constructed by the Majlis Bandaran Pasir Mas solely to sell etak. Unfortunately not many sellers prefer the place and only one or two sellers use the place. Others prefer their own spots down the road.

Mak Su Minah selling etak

I told you when I first returned in Pasir Mas in 1996, etok was still available in the Kelantan river. A few years later they were not there anymore. What happened?
I asked Syed Azmi a regular etak gatherer whose livelihood solely depends on etak. He said etak disappeared from the Kelantan river some years back. The reasons was the proliferation of the use of chemicals to catch udang galah, the fresh water prawns. The other reason is the many sand mining operations along the river. The spawns of the etak were sucked up by the powerful water pumps used to suck up the sand being mined.
So where does the etak come from now?
He said he has to go everywhere as far as Pekan in Pahang, Terengganu and Perak to get his supplies. He will go in a mini lorry with his other brothers and brother in law. They now know where the locations are and every trip will secure about 100 kg. His own need is about 30 kg perday so he had to store them somewhere. Earlier they tried putting them in the Kelantan river and harvest them again for use on the day itself. To his consternation he found that only 50 percent survived.That was a heavy price to pay. Now he kept them under referigeration. At RM8.00 a kg, his loss was quite substantial.
A commentator at Ray's blog said etak was a nuisance at his place in Pahang. During the dry season they had this vast expanse of flat sandbar near they village which they use as a football field. They even call it the stadium. The problem is the dead etak leave behind sharp shells that often cut up the players feet as 'beach soccer' is of course played bare footed in his kampong in Pahang. He is appealing to anybody to come and harvest all the etak from his place. It will be a gold mine to people like Syed Azmi if he were to know the place.
The only solution is to educate the people there on how to consume etak. Once they have acquired the taste, they will harvest them for their own consumption. Another way is to teach them how to harvest the etak and sell them in Kelantan. It will be an economic activity and contribute to their income. Hey isn't that an easy way to make money?


cakapaje said...

Salam Pak Zawi, usual, a very nicely written entry about a very nicely edible subject - mulut kawe terkeliur doh! :)

On a serious note, perhaps you could propose to the State Government to begin rearing etak on a small scale.

Akmal said...

Salaam Pak,
That is one superb article. I know how to eat it, but no, I don't know how to make it edible, and no, I don't even now how to collect the bivalves to start up with. But when I get started, the whole batch wrapped in the newspaper cone may end up just for me :P
Lamo doh tok make nih. Heheh, I'll be home this Friday, so.....
Have a nice day.

Zawi said...

Hopefully somebody from the gomen will read my blog and react from it. Actually nothing is impossible if they set their mind to it. The first thing the authority must do is study why the etak population is the Kelantan River decreased to extinction. It was quite recent.
I used to find etak in the irrigation canal at KADA Stop. So I guess some smaller clean irrigation canals that doesnt draw waters from the Kelantan River can be used to rear etak.

Zawi said...

Dont waste your time looking for etak or trying to cook it yourself. Just come to Kasa and I will treat you to it.
Now my wireless router is accessible. Come over to my place with you laptop for blogging and etak eating session. Can do your Friday prayers in Kasa.

pendita said...

Entry beh sengoti la Pak Zawi.. kawe suko make etok, tapi dok reti ketek...huhu... Saye deh gerai etak kat kasa tu dok tejago.. molek Majlih Daeroh keno amik berat jago tepakk tu.. Rama ore kelik kg akan singgah kasa untuk beli etok nih..

Zawi said...

Terima kasih kalu demo suka entry ni.
Yo gerai tu tak terjaga dan tak ramai pengguna. Setiap penjual suka tempat masing masing depan sekolah.
Bila nak kelek?

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Pak Zawi,

Wahlau...I thought you misspelled otak-otak or something when I saw the title =)

You know, that is one cool article...You should submit it to The Star or something...Many more people can benefit from reading it...

I love seafood of almost any kind, so it's cool! Just that...Now I am hungry...=(

Zawi said...

Otak otak is a favourite of mine too. Love the one in Kuala Kedah most.
Anyway etak is a fresh water creature but it will be as great if you are a food lover. You will definitely like etak or etok as some prefer to spell it.
Thanks for the suggestion. I will get my friend Leong Siok Hui of the Star Weekender to look at this blog and let's see if she will be allowed to write about it. She did an article with me once about The Chinese Riverine Villages in Pasir Mas. See the article here - Marriage of Traditions
Now there is a Homestay program in that village.
When the MCA national leaders like Donald Lim to campaign in the 2004 by election, they had to speak in Malay because the Chinese here don't speak the same Hokkien dialect as them and not many understands Manadarin. The Hokkien that they speak is corrupted with Malay and Thai words.

Anonymous said...

salam pak zawi,
alamak, teruih rasa lapaq. memang favourite benda gini : kupang, kerang,lala. tapi tak pernah makan etak. also tak pernah pegi kelantan. padahal terengganu tu kira dah dekat.inshaAllah soon.

Zawi said...

Take abit of your time to explore Kota Bharu, you wont regret it. Make sure to make yourself free on a Friday morning and just follow my guide. If you need more places to visit, I will be putting up more of Kelantan later.
Etak can be addictive too hehehe.

awang said...

Salam Pak Zawi,
After reading your article(Etak)I rush to KotaSemarahan and buy this LOKAN.I don't know whether it is from the same species.What we have here lokan shell is for making kapur that old ladies normally take with sireh.I try the lokan sayur with yr goodness woo...memang sedap(masak sendiri tapi orang lain makan tak tau lah..).I admit that makanan kampung memang sedap, just like what we have here in Sarawak UMAI.

YeeBody said...

Very nice article...complete with spice, salt and all. Pls allow me to share my part on etok.
Back in early 90's, I was with a group of army (civilian) staff on a river trip somewhere between Batu Arang and Rawang. At one of the spots, we collected etak... lots of them and of very big sizes too. We used the luggage carrier to our honda-cubs as scoop.
I brought back one small sack for my wife to cook. That time, Abang Zul's family stayed with me. And, him being a traditional medicine man, had many visitors/patients. All etok was gone in split seconds.

Zawi said...

lokan or rokan is a bigger variety I guess of the same family. They are more adaptable to muddy bottom and also found in more saline condition as the river esturies where the cockles (kerang) are found.
Wow you are very adventurous in terms of food. No rokan are found near to where I live. I have to go to Bachok or even Besut where they are sold everyday to get them.

Fauziah Ismail said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fauziah Ismail said...

Excellent stuff here. I tried Etak (initially I was told it was Etok) at the market in Tumpat during our roadtrip there.
The makcik seller knew we were outsiders by the clothes we wore. She asked why we were in Tumpat. We told her, "saja, jalan-jalan tengok tempat." She didn't believed us. No one goes there for sightseeing.
There's also a stall selling what had been touted as the best sup perut in Tumpat near the marketplace.
Maybe you can check it out if Kak Yah is still operating her stall there.

Zawi said...

Do you still remember the spot where you found the etak? They may still be there so you can always go back to that spot to collect them. The bigger ones are suitable for making sayur etak or etak masak lemak.
To cook them just follow the above recipe and you will enjoy the etak. Sorry I forgot, your wife is a Kelantanese too so she knows how to cook them.

Zawi said...

The local name sound somewhere in between etak and etok so I guess however you spell it,its accectable. Raykinzoku prefers etok.
You did Tumpat eh?
I will look up Kak Yah's sup perut for my future blog.
My gout will get worse after that bowl of sup perut, but who cares if the food is so good?

rauhunt said...

My family used to get etak from Thai hawkers or directly from sungai golok, so a bit hard to notice the unmanned gerai etak in kg kasar.

Zawi said...

The unmanned (though usually women) gerai etak is not because of too few seller, many prefer to sell them at some other spots away infront of Sek Kebangsaan Mekasar where the road is wider there and customers in cars can stop and by on both sides of the road. The stalls could be quite occupied if they are forced to sell only there.
Yes, I forgot to mention that etak also comes from Thailand.

Mat Salo said...

Bravo Bung Zawi!

Thanks for a well-researched, very entertaining -and may I add - a very well written piece on the Etak. Sorry, etok.

This really deserved to be in a glossy travel magazine, Sir.

Enjoyed this tremendously laa Bung.

Finally we can get away from politics, eh Bung?

Zawi said...

Pak Mat Salo,
Thanks for the praises. It sent me sky high on cloud nine and I dunno when I will brought back to earth.
Anyway I have written an email to a friend in one of the MSMs and hopefully she will find the subject interesting enough to be rewritten for her daily. That is upon the suggestion of Daphne. Failing that I may try to submit it to Libur and hopefully Azly the editor will find it good enough for inclusion. Should that happens then it will be in really glossy.
Yes I am getting tired of politics. That is why I said my previous post was the last on politics.
Thank you again for the accolades. You really made my day. Dum Di Dum Di Dum.

yeappie said...

Salam Pak Zawi,
Well written and very informative. In this electronic age of eTHIS/eTHAT and eHERE/eTHERE, won't it be appropriate to add a little cyber flavour and call it eTOK/eTAK!

ansalwa said...

Thank you so much for your informative entry about etak-etak.
Hopefully one day when I visit Kelantan, I can try etak-etak without getting sick.

pB said...

Salam Pok Awi

payoh sungguh nok carik etok ni.
kerja 're nyoh' orghe kato.

tapi , pulangae , supo tok setimpal dengae kederak...

pB suko makae etok.
tapi tok leh banyok banyok

le'ta mulut
sebab bukok guno gigi.
nok guno pisa , tok reti.

so lagi , pB suko etok hok kasar kasar tu , baghu se'ro.

anok anok , sorghe pun tok reti makae etok. kalu tra bukok , hacur dengae kulit kulit ...

Zawi said...

Thank you for the appreciation. I guess I was out of the current age as I represent the pre electronic age. Anyway your sugestion is most appreciated and the title will now be changed to the one you aptly proposed.

Zawi said...

Visit Kelantan soon. I promise you by the time you leave Kelantan you will be addicted to eTAK without getting any sicker than when you arrive.
So far no death has been reported from eTAK poisoning hahahahaha.

Zawi said...

Lo ni cari eTAK buke lagi kat Sungai Kelate tapi kat Teganu, Pahe dan Perak. Etak hidup harga dia RM8.00 dah sekilo. Sain saya Yeebody kata etak besar banyak kat Rawang Selangor. Kalu nak gi cari eTAK besar ajak dia la saya boleh bagi no telefon dia.
Budak budak tu kena ajar la cara nak make guna gigi. Cucu ambo dua hari try dah nak boleh tu. Kalu nak belaja guna pisau ikut cara saya ajar tu, semeta jah boleh. Lidah leta tu sebab diaorang guna Ajinomoto banyak nak bagi raso sedap.

pB said...

OOO gitu

pB ingat kor lidoh jadi le'ta tu keh garae ....

Zawi said...

Kalu setakat garae tak sampai jadi leta lidoh.Tak dapat elak la lo ni semua pembuat makanan masukkan ajinomoto. Sebab tu saya tak guna ajinomoto atau perisa seumpama dengannya kat rumah sebab benda tu dah banyak dalam makanan kita yang lain.

Zawi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mrs. lim said...

Pak Zawi,

This is good.. you know, i have been eating the salted etok since small and have never learned how it was prepared.. shame on me.. :(

I like to pop it into my mouth and open it with my tongue and teeth instead of using hands.. non-kelantanese friends often marvel at the speed i could open it.. lol... and they did ask about the cleanliness... and my answer was, so far so good.. :)

Thank you. At least now i know there are other ways of preparing a dish out from etok..

Zawi said...

Wow you are such an expert huh?
My advantage is that I live in an area where at least 3 of the roasters live. So I get to see how they are done. In fact that is where I took the photographs. Once I tried etak goreng. Its quite nice really except the the shells will be abit oily. Use the same ingredients as above and the only difference is you fry it in a small quantity of oil.

tokasid said...

Salam Pak Zawi:

Aduh!!Ngalir air lior ambe.

I never knew Etok was called Etak. You are right the Kelantanese dialect for this species is pronounced btwn the e and a( I remember my Kelantanese friends saying that too)

Whenever in KB,if its the Etok season I will never fail to get in by the night food court beside the Pasar Khadijah.Like Akmal mentioned these tiny delicious things sold like kacang rebus in triangular wrapped newspapers.

But during the Pasir Panjang by-election, a friend took us( 5 guys to help the PAS campaign) for lunch somewhere the new bridge to Pasir Mas. The restaurant is on the Salor(but not really in Salor) side of the river. And the etok was cooked like the pic you put on.Like masuk air with serai and bawang besar cut into halfs(like they cook the lala in west coast0. Its delicious but we non-kelantanese have one problem with Etok~ to pry it open.Now that is one hell of a procedure. And our Kelantanese friends will say its so easy.You do like this,see! But of course its easier said than done( the lala is easier for it opens p when boiled).

Thank you Pak Zawi.Nok kene gi KB doh ....dok leh tunggu lamo-lamo

Zawi said...

Both etak and etok will be right. Don't prounounce too much on the o if you use o.
That's true they are sold like kacang rebus by the roadside and eaten as light snacks.
When cooked by boiling, the etak will open up and it will be easy to pick up the flesh. Maybe it was insufficiently cooked when you had it.
Anyway the by election was in Pengkalan Pasir and Rantau Panjang is the town near the Thai Border where Akmal is from.
It is the season now. Large ones as in the picture is available. The large ones are suitable for making etak sayur or etak gulai lemak.

zaitgha said...

hi Pak Zawi,

nice write up...i used to see many of my friends bought and ate these things but sorry to say though i am a huge fan of seafood but i never did acquire the taste of me its a tad too salty....none of my siblings eat these too though they lived in Kelantan longer than i did....

take care Pak Zawi...and have a nice week ahead...

Zawi said...

How is the new kitchen? Will we ever get to see a picture of it?
I think etak cant be categorised into one of seafood as it is a fresh water creature and will not survive in saline waters.
The saltish taste differ from seller to seller. That is why when we buy our etak we buy from the same one because the seller has the etak that suit our taste. The consistency of the salt content is important as not many like to take those which are too saltish.
I guess not every Kelantanese themselves love etak but most does.
You too take care zai.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

Salam Pak Z,

Aiseh, sorry for coming in late as I was absent from every blog throughout the weekend. I’m flattered to have this whole entry dedicated to me. cant thank you enough, sir.

Now lets see. the only reason to make it a point to set my wheels on kelantan soil is just this, etak! With the complete info, thanks to you now all I need is, to have a badang or 8 of etak for that exquisite taste.

It makes me wonder even further. Here in selangor, we do have kepah as local’s favorite crustacean. But why no etak? We have rivers here to, don’t we?

I love cockles or anything with shell. To me, a seafood dinner wont be complete without any crustacean-based dish. That’s probably the reason I took interest in etak. Abalone, oysters are simply too pricey and not affordable to be digging on these on weekly basis, let alone daily.

Thanks once again, pak Z. I know I will get some taste of these little guys one sweet day.

A wonderful write-up from you, as always.

kbguy said...

fuyooo ! besok pagi kawe nok gi Pasir Mas beli sebukus..

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

reading all the feedbacks, seems that everyone's tasted etak. am i misisng something here? Pak Z, trust me, i'm making it a point to come and visit you one sweet as etak weekend. no idea exactly when but definitely in the future.

Zawi said...

You missed the point raised by my friend yeebody. Yee wrote in his comment above:
Back in early 90's, I was with a group of army (civilian) staff on a river trip somewhere between Batu Arang and Rawang. At one of the spots, we collected etak... lots of them and of very big sizes too. We used the luggage carrier to our honda-cubs as scoop.
There are etak in Selangor only that they are not realized by many. If the etak gathers from Kelantan knows the spot, you will see them at the spot tomorrow. Its a myth that etak is only found in Kelantan.
Yeebody must help us to locate the site again. That supply of etak from Selangor must not be wasted. The Kelantanese in Selangor can always roast them and let everybody enjoy the delicacy.

Zawi said...

Dekat jambatan jalan lama ke Wakaf Baru selalu ada orang jual etak salai. Cuba dia punya dulu kalau tak sedap atau tak ada baru cuba yang Pasir Mas. Kalu setakat sebungkus mungkin tak berbaloi u datang. Beli sebadang hehehehehe.

Zawi said...

Kelantan definitely welcomes you. Make sure you have a Friday morning free to go to listen or even just look around at TGNA's ceramah. Make sure you wear a pants to close those aurat OK? I will get you a position right in front of TGNA.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

scrolled up and read mr Yeebody's response. that has some what answered my question. I think it is a good idea to get some Kelantanese over to unearth all the etak in all the river here, which i believe abundance of them. selangorians aare adventurous eaters, i'm sure most city-folks wouldnt mind trying them.

*i think the last time i was in KB, the gomen were of different party back then...hehehe...
but would love to get to experience being in the 'Serambi Mekah' insyaAllah. i'll make sure i'm married by then and to keep in mind knees are covered.

thanks, pak Zawi.

Hantu Laut said...

Great piece of writing.You should submit it to some gastronomic magazine.

I am not sure whether we have the stuff in our rivers in Sabah, we have one kind that look almost the same but they are in brackish water.

I have stayed away from eating bivalves after getting very sick few years back eating raw oysters.

Zawi said...

I am happy that you are coming back to visit Kelantan. I bet you will feel like coming to Kelantan for the first time. Things have changed so much despite the attempt to depict a much less developed Kelantan.
I will find out with Yeebody on the exact location and get a team to go and gather the etak. They are too good to waste.

Zawi said...

They are about the size of pebbles and never found in brackish water. Could survive in mud though.
The way it is roasted, I guess its not really cooked. The sayur etak or the gulai lemak is a better way of ensuring that it is well cooked.
Te fact that it is very sensitive to the presence of chemicals, I think this bivalve is very clean in terms of toxic materials.
The next time you come to Kelantan you can check it out whether what you found in Sarawak is similar.

kc said...

a very extensive explanation on how to eat etok@etak...hehe. ni 1st time nengok benda alah ni. never eat them before. the only shell thing i ate are lala and kerang only

Nor Haniza said...

Salam Pak Zawi.
Baca artikel Pak Z ni macam baca majalah Liburlah. Seronok! Saya pun suka makan etok tapi dengan nasi kerabu. Kalau makan saja-saja saya mual. Selalu juga beli etok di pasar Jumaat di Kedai Lalat. Dulu Sg. Pulau Melaka di kampung pun banyak etok dan ada 3 - 4 pengusaha etok salai. Sekarang ni tinggal sorang jah. Dah jadi saudagar senja. Tapi bekalan etok sentiasa ada di Kedai Lalat.

Puteri said...


I love all kinds of clams, salt water or fresh water ... don't forget to bring me to a place to sample it when I visit Kelantan in the summer! Looking forward to trying all the foods!

Raden Galoh said...

Salam pak...
You really make me want to visit Kelate and raso Etak tu weh...

napok sedak sungguh Pak...

Zawi said...

Time to try etak. For the initiation you will have to come to Kelantan so that you won't get it wrong the first time.
Anyway the flesh is even smaller than the cockles so don't expect yourself to feel full after eating a badang full of it hehehehe.

Zawi said...

nor haniza,
Etak dijual dibanyak tempat di Kelantan cuma kita kena tahu dimana yang paling sedap untuk diri kita.
Cuba tanya penjual dari mana dia dapat bekalan?

Zawi said...

Spare enough time for Kelantan and I will get you to sample everything available here. Don't blame me if your blood sugar level and blood pressure level rose sky high.
We can experiment the efficacy of cassia alata on you hehehehehe.

Zawi said...

Raden Galoh,
That is what I am trying to do. Entice everyone to visit Kelantan for Visit Kelantan Year 2008. Tahun melawat (not merawat) Kelantan. Food is the best bait. If I can get some of you here to visit Kelantan this year, then I can consider myself successful.

irfan said...

salam pak zawi,

when i read this posting, the first question came to my mind is that "is this thing delicious?" i have never tried this "thing" before, so i couldn't imagine how it tastes.

i don't like seafood and the etok looks rather "disgusting". when i was a small kid, my mom told me that it's bad for our health. so i guess it's alright not to try any of them.

i m very choosy when it comes to eating, and that makes me skinny.

this article has enlightened me a lot on this particular sea creature, as i thought the etok is from the sea, before this. i m sure i have learnt lots on the etok, but still, i think i m not gonna try them (even one, i guess).

anyway, thanks for the information.

Zawi said...

There are many kinds of food that my children didn't try eating because my wife didn't eat them herself. Fishes like the cat fish, haruan and pari(ray fish) to name a few were not in their diet. Fortunately for them when they went to residential school and leave away from home, they manage to sample those food that they never had at home. So now they will eat most things.
If not for their adventurous taste they would never have enjoyed those food.
It is Ok if you don't like them and you don't want to try them. Only that you won't be able to tell others how it taste. While others who have never tasted them yearns to taste them.

Huei said...

Sorry bout my ignorant comment on zewt's blog. should've made it clearer that i was just wondering. but isit true that you can't wear tight pants and revealing clothes? no offence.

anyways, ur post made me hungry! they look so yummy! =) just imagine that with nice hot chilli! mm..ok i can't wait for lunch

Zawi said...

I wanted to provoke you and I think I succeeded. No better way to attract attention right?
Actually they recconmended suitable dress code but it was never enforced except for those establishment like supermarkets and other places where licence to operate the premise is required.
My eldest daughter goes around with no headscarves and wearing a dress up to knee length sometimes. Nothing happened.
Female tourists still walk around Kelantan wearing small tops and shorts. Nothing happened to them. Fortunately these tourists were advised of the dress codes before they come so they dont walk around town in bikinis. More out of respect to the locals.
That is why I would like to invite you to Kelantan one day so that you can see for yourself how life is here. If you go to the shopping marts around town just observe thos sales assistants not wearing headscaves in tight jeans, ask them in Hokkien or Thai, you will get the answer to your question.
If you are a food lover, you will find lots of nice food for you to sample. Just watch out for the high sugar content in some of them though.
Forget about those dress code if you feel comfortable with what you are wearing in your own place. Just come as you are and you will be surprised that nobody will give a second look at your dress but they will look in awe at your pretty face.

sc said...

Hi en zawi! i popped over from zewt and i must say, i throughly enjoyed your post! really good write up, i definitely learnt something today :). i've only been to kelantan a few times and i really like it there. now, i get to read much more on kelantan frequently. ok, better make plans to visit kelantan again this year. thanks for sharing and keep writing!

Zawi said...

I am so happy to know that you enjoyed what I wrote. Hopefully you have read those posts on Kota Bharu and have a grasp of what is there over here.
Since you have been here a couple of times I guess it is not so foreign to you.
Will be writing more of the other places in Kelantan. Next post will be about Wakaf Baru which is quite near to Kota Bharu. Thanks for the visit and hope you will be here more often.

YeeBody said...

Read all comments and enjoyed them tremendously. Couldn't leave your blog without leaving a print.
Tried to contact old army (civilian) friends and was informed that the area disappeared due to development. No promises though, I shall try to furnish you the exact condilocation of the place as soon as I am able to get off this load of 'must-do's' in hand.
Eh Friend, Before I invest, how much would you think the fair price per pax for the 'trip-etak'? Trip includes pillows and mattresses for those who ate too much & wanting to get rid of that nausea feeling.
Warm rgds.

Huei said...

Yup u succeeded. i almost flamed up, but good thing i realized my mistake, afterall, we should stay united, all of opposition supporters ;)

and yes, i will definitely pay kelantan a visit. i know i can be guaranteed to find good food! =)

Zawi said...

If the etak are the large ones and they are plentiful, I bet any price you charge will be fair price. Try to find a longer track to the place so that we charge for guiding as well. Make hay while the sun shines OK?
Contact the new MB of Selangor to gazette the area as etak sanctuary and access is only possible if the visitors are guided by you. You need to get your ex FRIM researcher status endorsed by the FRIM DG to lend credence to you as a guide.
The price to be charged is ex KL OK?

Zawi said...

You almost flamed up eh? Could imagine how you would look when you are incensed hehehehe. Yeah opposition must always be united inspite of any tribulations.
If food is your love then Kelantan is the place. Please keep coming back to my blogsite for updates on food of Kelantan. The next one will be about Restaurants in a small town called Wakaf Baru.

zewt said...

assalamulaikum pak zawi,

i think i have tasted this before when i went back to my mom's hometown when i was very young. my mom is from alor setar.

i would love to go to kelantan really, and taste this delicious looking etak and put my loghat kelahteh to practise :).... of course, a state sponsored trip would be just fantastic.

i think people should really open their eyes and ears to kelantan instead of getting to know kelantan through the media.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

salam pak Z,

i did a small posting on Kelantan but it doesnt come close as good as yours.

Rita Ho said...

Hi Zawi! The snail coach finally arrived after negotiating through many political "blocks" along the way. I enjoyed the observation but dare not make any noise as I once declared that I will eat a shoe if I ever discuss politics. Gotta save my teeth and digestive system. :)

This is another masterpiece read. Kerp and I were just appreciating your virtues as a person and blogger. :)

This my first intro to etak and I am intrigued that it takes an hour to roast them. Is the shell resistant to heat? easily breakable? I am guessing they are not seasonal?

Another addition to my list of food to sample when in KB. David loves muscles and clams and think he will enjoy it as well. :)

Rita Ho said...

Zawi ... I should add that David hopes it does not smell anything like durian and we don't end up burping for hours!

Zawi said...

So etak is nothing foreign to you la.
I will try to broach the idea of bringing you over to Kelantan on a state sponsored trip. I can't promise but I will try. I will approach Dato' Annuar Tan or Dato' Kamaruddin Jaafar or Dato' Husam Musa for the OK.There is no harm in trying rite? The worst answer we will getis just a no. A yes will be fine. Don't think all three will dare decline such a great promo for Kelantan.
Polishing up your Kelantanese slang will be easy. Just start using it again with a Kelantanese and pretty soon it will be perfect again.
The MSM tried to portray a very bad image of Kelantan. It incennsed many Kelantanese working outside of Kelantan so much that they came back to help to vote these liars out. So it backfired on them because they were the ones who brought them home.

Zawi said...

We are not competting here. We are just complementing each other right? Thanks for promoting Kelate Kito (Pinjam Raykinzuko punya line hehehehe)

Zawi said...

Sometimes we have to follow the trend. I deviated into politics just to keep in trend because of the need to highlight the happenings in my Pasir Mas. Otherwise nobody will write about it.
Well if you really have to eat a shoe we will make sure it is an edible shoe like a cake made into a shoe? Then your digestive system will remain intact (teeth included).
I am moved by what you did with kerp. I am just a normal blogger like you and kerp trying to make our small contribution to our society.
The etak takes an hour to roast because of the small fire and the need to turn them over thoroughly to get every one of them to get heated up sufficiently. The shell is hard but comparatively thinner than cockles.
Rest assured that etak doesn't have that heavenly pungent small as in the durian. Any first timer like David could take it without even a grimmace. Infact he will be ecstatic (we will take a picture of him at that point of time).
The thing used to be seasonal since it is not available during the North East Monsoon. Since the supply now comes from all over the country especially Perak and soon Selangor (thanks to yeebody)it should be available all year round almost everyday.

daveg said...

Hi Pak Zawi,
Rita told me that I'd enjoy your etak blog, and so I did. We'd love to have you show us how it's done next time we visit MY.

I've eaten river clams here in the US several times before, and love all kinds of clams, oysters, mussels, etc.

One time in particular we were camping on the Colorado River in southern California. We were on an island in the river trying to stay out of the mid-day sun by laying in the shade along the side of the river. We discovered there were clams in the river bank & started digging with our hands for them in the sand. To this day every time I hear Bob Marley's song "Jammin" I remember that particular day, we just changed the word to "clammin".

We dug enough to feed everyone a couple of times over, then hung them in a mesh t-shirt from the bow of my friend's ski boat so they could purge over night. We steamed them the next day. As it turned out, they weren't particularly good, they were sort of bitter, probably because the Mojave desert is very alkaline, but it was still a memorable experience, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Next time I'll just bring lots of garlic & butter to serve them with (typical way to serve them here in the US).

Thanks for the enjoyable article!

Anonymous said...

hi, hopped over from kerp, so this is the pak zawi yang famous, kerp dont know what's he is missing for not being there, for me, its a full love affair with food and my fav is all the different ulams and kerabu :) cheers and have a fantastic weekend, mary kate

Zawi said...

No words can describe the joy that I experienced to know that you enjoyed my post on etak which is essentially the river clam. I guess the one that you had in the Colorado is the bigger cousin of what we have here. Given the size of our clams I doubt you can fill up your stomach on them alone.
You could marinate them in salt and allow them to be roasted in the hot sun, could make them edible.
Will be to glad to show you around when you reach our shore in Kelantan MY.
Thanks for the visit and the lovely comment.

Zawi said...

Am I famous? I didn't know that. Hopefully thats the truth and for some good reasons and not for my laser sharp tounge lashing anybody that happened to cross me hahahahaha.
Wait for the next fasting month and I will tempt you with all the savoury kerabus that are available. Somehow the fasting month is the time when the Kelantanese indulge in all exquisite quisines.
Thank you for telling me that I am famous. Hopefully my head dont multiply in size from now onward hahahahaha.

Rita Ho said...

Zawi ... you are getting famous in the US also. Seriously! I have been answering questions re Pak Z, Kelantan and KB all evening - size, population, political scene, dress code - had to draw a map of Peninsula Malaysia!

Your blog traffic will probably increase in the next few days. I promoted your virtual tour of KB. Haha!

Zawi said...

This is something beyond me to expect. Never in my wildest dream that I would reach such level of acceptance. With humilty I would like to bow to all those readers who have visited my site and found what I posted a joy to read.
To you Rita, from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you. When you and Dave reach Kelantan one day, one small dinner will be waiting for you. It is all on me.

cikgu panji said...

Wow...sedapnye etak dimakan dengan nasi kerabu...

Zawi said...

Cikgu Panji,
Terima kasih kerana ngunjung ko blog ambo.
Memang sedap make etak ngan nasi kerabu.

lloni said...

ghama sungguh buwi respon ko artikel etok....kalu panggil etak bbunyi lua sikit..hehehe...
kalu sebut etok denga kg salor atau padi dengan kg salor memang sinonim...tapi itu dululah..lloni takdok dohh...malah pekerjoe utamo selain tanam padi ialah mengokok etok. Dengan pekerjaan penat jerih inilah mereka menyara hidup anak bini sampailah lloni anok cucu dah jadi oghe besa...malah cucu-cucu ado hok tok kenal etok!
Teringat saya maso budok-budok dulu..suko gi ssungai tunggu "chek" (pangilan untuk atok)balik ngokok etok. Fenomena para pengokok etok balik ke pengkalan sangat unik dan meriah sebab ramai duk nnunggu seperti oghe gi ppatai dan perahu pulok macam-macam kala siap denga layar sekali..

p/s : tok ambo ialah penyalai etok ssohor dulu...etok serago tokdae gi jua kedai pasir mas abih jua di achok...etok belum masak disalai doh ado oghe tunggu....namo atok ambo tu ialah Mok Wan Nab.....tinggal di Gertok Lembu..tapi doh bersara.. tok nyalai doh.

Zawi said...

Ghama minat post etok ni. Hok sedihnya etok takdok doh d Sungai Kelate. Kalu ado oghe nak buat kajian patut dah tu. Sedih juga bab saya suko gi sungai ngutip etok.

lloni said...

etok adalah anugerah Allah swt kepada penduduk sepanjang sungai klate sejak berpuluh tahun dulu. Tapi sekarang penduduk yg dulunya bergantung kepada sungai telah beralih arah dan tidak lagi 'mengimarahkan' sungai. Sungai sudah tidak diguna lagi dan rok tumbuh berdaung...tebing runtuh kerana tiada lagi manusia yg menhuni di tebing-tebing sungai. Kalu dulu manusia berlumba-lumba tinggal dekat dgn sungai tetapi sekarang kemodenan telah merubah segala...manusia tidak minat menggunakan sungai lagi...malah perkataan 'mudek' dan 'hilir' sudah menjadi janggal kepada anak muda sekarang..

Zawi said...

Sungai Kelantan sudah jadi tohor dan tidak dapat digunakan sebagai cara pengangkutan. Bot-bot yang dulunya digunakan untuk mudek dari Pasir Mas ke kampong ambo di Chekok atau hilir ke Kota Bharu sudah tidak dapat diguna lagi dan reput. Tambahan pula menggunaan kenderaan darat adalah lebig cepat dan terus sampai ke tangga tidak hanya ke pengkalan yang letaknya berkilometer dari tangga.
Keadaan air juga tidak sejernih dulu sehingga nak mandi pun dah tak sanggup. Pencemaran di hulu sungai atas nama pembangunan telah merosakkan Sungai Kelantan. Airnya yang sering digunakan untuk minum sudah tak sesuai walaupun untuk mandi manda, Namun demikian semasa saya ke kula sungai Kelantan masih terdapat lagi mereka yang tinggal di tebing sungai di pulau-pulau yang mengginakan air sungai untuk mandi manda. Sedih betul keadaan mereka.

sj said...

ohhh etak is was etok to me some 4 decades ago...etok by any name will alwez be as exotic..first tried in in rantau panjang and later in kb..missit terribly !

Zawi said...

Come backto Pasir Mas and you will have etok as much as you like.

Anonymous said...

Salam aBe,

Am writing from Selangor.

My younger brother went for an Etok Hunting expedition in Selangor 2 weeks ago and came back with a 'besen' of it to my delight! He knows i would trade gold for etok. Then i tried to salai in an oven. I was too over confident that i marinated the whole bunch with shallots, lemongrass,& salt and happily shoved them in the oven for 30 minutes. What came out were a bowl of totally roasted shells of etok!

Yesterday, he went again and came back with another batch. This time i marinated and fried half of them in a pan without cooking oil of course. And yes, this time i could enjoy the etok..with a slight failure which i dont mind..all the etok are cracked open! He he.

I still have another half batch to work with. And I told my wife that i would find out from the net about how they are usually cooked. Of course she laughed at me as she believed that other people would not be as crazy about etok as me . I just laughed at her back a while ago when i found your article. Thank you so much for a very well written piece. You are my savior!

regards- a166v6

Zawi said...

a166v6 from Selangor,
I am sure glad you find my write up useful.
Another friend of mine from Selangor once found etok somewhere around Rawang. Using the bakul from his Honda Cub, he managed to harvest bagfuls of them and distributed them among his friends. Unfortunately he can't find the spot again. Now you have found another spot, you better go and harvest them. Selling etak salai in Selangor can bring you lots of money. I think the details in my blog is sufficient to tell you how it is done. Otherwise you can harvest them and sell them to Syed Azmi in Pasir Mas. they will be too glad to buy them. The going price here is RM8 per kg. You can harvest them there and keep them in a freezer. When you have a freezer full of them you can contact the guy who deals in etak in Pasir Mas and he can go and buy them from you.
Why not be in the etak business?

aisyah said...

a166v6 from Selangor,

which part of selangor did ur brother found the etak? ..hopefully can ask my hubby to find them for me..

I am 5 months pregnant, really mengidam to have etak...


Zawi said...

Cuba la mana-mana sungai kecil di Rawang. Kawan saya Hj Ashaari pernah dapat etak tu dari sungai di Rawang tapi dia lupa kat mana sungai tu letak. Kalau ngidam sangat balik la Kelantan kejap, naik Air Asia.

cutee said...

hehehehe... dekak nga umoh kawé.. saing kawé tu dok sala etok tuh!!!

cutee said...

Saya pernah gi cari di Sungai Langat...pun ada. Kalau nak tengok visit my blog here....

Pak Zawi said...

Rumah ambo pun tak jauh ngan tempat jual etok tu. Kat mana di Sungai Langat? Cari banyok banyok pastu export ko Kelantan. Lo ni panas ada banyak mano pun laku.
Ambo akan melawat ko blog demo.

Troy said...

Salam Pak Zawi, saya dari pahang and i like ur entry very very much. bolehkah saya tahu macam mana nak tengok process tangkap etok dan roasting etok.? bolehkah saya dapat contact kilang roasting etok tu?

lagi, may i know what else special in kelantan?such as traditional job,traditional way to catch animals or collect hasil hutan?

Pak Zawi said...

Etak dah tak ada di Kelantan. Semua etak datang dari Pahang, Trengganu dan Perak. Nak tengok tangkap etak susah la tapi kalau nak tengok proses etak adala.
Kerja aneh? Saya pun tak tahu. Datang je la nanti saya tunjukkan apa yang ada.

sam said...

Wong Koewei said...

I'm doing my master study on etak (corbicula) can i know where in selangor area can get these bivalves?

mIsS bAm bAm said...

pak zawi agak-agak ada lg x etok ni....akak sy mengidam nk makan etok salai la...kat mane bole cari ea

Faqih Mohd said...

Salam.. Pak zawi.. Kt kedah ada x tmpt nok cari etok.. Kawe lapar trus lpah baco artikel nih.. Seliur rasonyo..

Faqih Mohd said...

Salam.. Pak zawi.. Kt kedah ada x tmpt nok cari etok.. Kawe lapar trus lpah baco artikel nih.. Seliur rasonyo..


kalu wat research pasal etok ni, mesti akan sampai ke blog Pak Zawi,
Salam pak Zawi,
Saya tengah kumpul maklumat pasal etok, untuk kita naikkan balik etok Kelate nih.
Lau boleh contact Pak Zawi untuk next information?
Ni no.fon saya 0105156449