By: RaY KinZoKu

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Monday, 23-Jan-2006 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
Distinctively KeLaTte : ETOK

Meet Mokcik Etok !

No. It's not her real name.
I deliberately called her that for those tiny things she was selling for RM 1 per cup.
Before you would guess it, those things are called " ETOK ".

* An Etok seller at Pasar Kubang Pasu.

My observation tells me that only women sell Etok.
Etok sellers usually placed their commodity on a nyiru, a tray made from woven bamboo or pandanus strips, with a piece of newspaper lined between to avoid dirtying the Nyiru.

Don't look in your Kamus Dewan.
You probably won't find the meaning of the word since it is purely Kelantanese.
Even if you did, either Kelantanese is a prevalent Malay Dialect ( he he.. )
or they probably had it misspelled as E - T - A - K.


It's E - T - O - K, not E - T - A - K
( and do not get confuse with A - T - O - K .. he he )
That is how they say it in Kelantan ! ~ ETOK ~!

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.

The Kelantanese in the other hand, are so used with Etok.
Besides giving it the only name probably known to the Malays, they also have a different yet creative idea concerning Etok. They would pick the Etok out from the river, clean them thoroughly, and for a short while, marinate the molusc with a special combination of crushed shallot, ginger, garlic, lemon grass and salt. Then quickly and very lightly "roasted" over glowing charcoal or under the Sun, to be eaten raw as an enjoyable snack !

It's the Kelantanese version of SUSHI in case if you are still wondering what it is !

* Sorry for the blurry shot. So, what shall my excuse be?

Ah hah ! The makciks were staring suspiciously at me, so I took a quick rough shot and flee for my life. How's that ?

Etok, as a light snack, is uniquely and truly Kelantanese.
You won't find this anywhere else. At least, not in other parts of Malaysia.
I started to realise how Etok had stretched across the political borders, only when I was living abroad. After all those years taking Etok for granted, I became rather astonished when I found Etok, nicely packed and displayed on refrigerated shelves, highly prized, in the Japanese supermarkets !

No. This is no joke.
If I do. I would better off telling you that the Japanese are importing Kelantanese Budu for their Udon soup instead !

Only there, Etok are known as SHIJIMI.
( it would be spelt like this " シジミ " and for those self renowned Kanji Master out there, you would have already guessed that the Kanji for Shijimi is " 蜆 ", provided that your PC could read Japanese ). I came to know later that Etok, or in this case, Shijimi is a well sought commodity throughout Japan. Like in Malaysia, Shijimi is found in big rivers and lakes in many parts of the country. In Osaka where I used to stay, the local supply of Shijimi came all the way from Biwa Lake in nearby Shiga, the biggest freshwater lake in Japan.

The typical Japanese way in consuming Shijimi is by adding the clams into their Miso Shiru, a type of soup made from fermented soybean paste ( Miso ), a must in every Japanese meal. Miso Shiru often comes in its basic and simplest form but having the Shijimi in the Miso Shiru is considered a delicacy to the Japanese thus highly prized.

Ohh...and that, I am so proud with Etok !

* Etok fishing (top) in Japan and fresh Japanese Etok (below), sold for about RM5 for 100 gram .. Wow !

( Click images for the original source. )

* Shijimi Jiru. ( Click image to be directed to the original source ).

Okay. That's it. Enough with these temptations. I need to make myself a Shijimi Jiru. The ingredients are simple but the result is tremendously awesome.

All I need is, Etok which are readily available throughout Kelantan, then some Shiro Miso*, next I need an appropriate amount of Dashi* ( broth made by boiling Katsuo Boshi* and Konbu*, to enhance the flavor ) and some sliced leek and taufu for extra kick !

Great ! Now where can I start ?
Errr.... lets start with asking myself where could I get those Japanese stuff here in Kota Bharu, shall I ?

* SIGH * emmm.. in that case, maybe next time !

So, as you can see, only properly cooked ones would surrender the fleshy parts within and since the Kelantanese Etok, is a snack halfway there, a little bit of effort is needed to get to the treat. Most would use their teeth, but my Mom, wanting me to keep my teeth for my old age,taught me the way of the knife instead.

Shaving away bits of the clam's mouth part with a knife would expose a small elongated crevice, then a single thrust of the blade through the crevice would pry it open with ease.
So, for those first timers out there, I would be more than happy to impart you this " knifing-skill " of mine in exchange for.. well, not much, just a few red RM notes ? Anyone interested ? he he...

( By the way, will it make me less Kelantanese if I tell you that, I don't know how to pry open Etok, using my teeth ? )

Etok is undeniably delicious, but like any popular personalities out there, there will always be an ugly side. Etok is a bottom dwelling creature, like Kerang, Kepah, Tiram etc etc. It lives by filtering in food particles from the water, and in the process, even taking in toxic residue which then builds up in its flesh which later consumed by humans. Which is a bad thing, and to add to the fear list, they mostly came from the Kelantan River !

A hot spot for seasonal cholera outbreak and since it is consumed raw, a risky treat if you are not being careful. Unless if you cook them like the Siput Sedut Gulai Lemak, like my grandmother used to make, and then the risk would simply boil away.

But on top of that, honestly, I never heard of people getting cholera by just eating Etok before and probably not now or in the future.. The risk is so small, seasonal and negligible. The toxic residue ? You already ate tonnes of them from your greens.

Just dont die in vain,
holding yourselves away from Etok when you are really into it.

It is either love or hate.

So, please pick your side now.

Either you are with the amazing Etok, or with the terrorists !


* Shiro Miso :
Fermented soybean or rice paste ( miso ). White type ( Shiro ). Somewhat sweet.

* Dashi :
Flavor enhancing broth, used in many Japanese sauces and soups. Generally made from the combination of Konbu and Katsuo Boshi.

* Konbu :
A Kelp, a big and long seaweed, found in cold seas. By experience, the Japanese knew that the stuff on the seaweed could somehow enhance the flavors of their food. Indeed, the seaweed is naturally coated with an amino acid called glutamic acid. Ever heard of Monosodium Glutamate or MSG ?

* Katsuo Boshi :
Bonito ( aka Ikan Tongkol or Ikae Ayo ! ), filleted, dried then shaved into very thin slices to be used in the preparation of flavor enhancing broth ( dashi ), or as a companion for Japanese dishes.


TRAVELOCITY : An Etok Experience

Dari Kelantan ke Pahang semata mata kerana Etok

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