It takes one to three minutes to fry the satar balls Foto Bernama

Tasty Fried Satar Whet Palates Of Terengganu Food Lovers

By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin

KUALA BERANG (Bernama) -- At first glance, they look like fried fish balls but the minute you sink your teeth into a piece, you know it is something else.

It is satar, a fish paste-based snack that is popular in the east coast states of Peninsular Malaysia, particularly Terengganu. This particular satar, however, is served fried instead of grilled which is more common.

This writer had the opportunity to taste the skewered fried satar balls (RM2 for each five-ball skewer) when he visited the Tasik Kenyir Carnival, here recently, as part of a media visit to the Malaysian mahseer fish sanctuary at Lubuk Kejor in Sungai Petang, near Tasik Kenyir, that was organised by the Central Terengganu Development Authority (Ketengah).

The writer's verdict on fried satar balls? Absolutely scrumptious, especially when eaten while still hot and exuding a smoky flavour. The texture is so fine, the satar balls seem to melt in the mouth, it is definitely good enough to be listed as one of the top foods in the east coast.

TOP QUALITY SATAR

Fried satar balls are easier to make than the grilled version. Although both use the same fish-based paste, the latter requires the mixture to be scooped into a cone-shaped banana leaf. About two or three cones are then pierced with a skewer and grilled to perfection.

For the deep-fried version, all one has to do is shape the mixture into small balls, dip them into the oil and fry them till they turn golden brown. Pierce five of the balls with a skewer and they are ready to be served.

Fried satar seller Mohd Rizal Desa, 43, who was responsible for dishing out the mouth-watering snack at the Tasik Kenyir Carnival, told Bernama he had carried out some research and development on the fish paste so that he could come up with top quality satar.

Currently, he is helping his in-laws to operate a shop at Batu 6, Kuala Terengganu, where they make and sell fried satar balls, as well as different types of fish crackers such as the popular "keropok lekor" or fish sausage that the state is so well-known for.

Mohd Rizal said his parents-in-law used to operate a satar business during the 1980s but had to close it down for some reason.

Then, in 2015, his wife's brother Fakrol Rozi Ramli, 32, decided to restart his parents' business but initially, he focused on selling fish crackers.

Mohd Rizal eventually joined the family business and at the end of last year, they decided to do some research on fried satar before offering it to their customers.

THREE MONTHS OF RESEARCH

Mohd Rizal and his in-laws spent three months trying to develop the perfect fried satar recipe while staying true to the original traditional concoction.

After much experimentation, they finally came up with something they felt was the best fried satar they had ever tasted.

"Early this year, we started focusing on developing our own brand of fried satar, which we have named 'Pok Awang Misai'," he said, adding that the brand name was in honour of his father-in-law, Ramli Ismail, better known as Pok Awang Misai.

Mohd Rizal said since there were only two or three people selling fried satar balls in Kuala Terengganu, their product faced good prospects.

He said while the local people of Terengganu were familiar with fried satar as they prepared it at home for their families to consume, food operators rarely offered the fried version of satar.

THE RIGHT TASTE

Well aware that satar lovers place great emphasis on the taste of the fish, Mohd Rizal and his in-laws make doubly sure that they get the flavour right to appease their discerning customers.

They usually use fresh sardines or ikan selayang to make the fish paste as the flesh of this fish not only tastes good but has a tinge of sweetness as well.

Both fried and grilled satar require the same ingredients for the preparation of the fish paste, namely grated coconut, chilli, onion, salt, sugar and seasoning.

"Appearance-wise, the fried satar balls may not seem appealing but its oomph lies in its strong fish taste.

"So far, we have been getting good response from our customers. In fact, when we gave out samples to members of the public to taste, many of them immediately came to our shop to get our fried satar balls," said the Kedah-born Mohd Rizal, who "migrated" to Terengganu in 2003.

Observed that fried satar was mostly enjoyed by elderly folks, he said: "These are the Terengganu 'purists' who also love eating boiled 'keropok lekor'. They like to eat satar because pure fish paste is used to make the snack and its recipe is as original as it can get."

As the 'Pok Awang Misai' fried satar is still new to the market, he tries to participate in as many carnivals as possible to promote the delicacy.

Satar fans in Kuala Lumpur will be happy to know that Mohd Rizal will be setting up a stall at a carnival for rural entrepreneurs to be held at the Putra World Trade Centre from Oct 19 to 22.

Mohd Rizal can be contacted at 017-9383844. He is also willing to take orders from the public or set up a stall at functions and carnivals.

"Since fried satar balls are easier to prepare than the grilled satar, we can prepare it for our customers within two minutes, especially if they want to eat it hot," he added

BERNAMA