"Etak" popular snack of Kelantan people can be found in Kuala Kubu Bharu

19 Oct 2023 12:07pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - Facebook
Image for illustrative purposes only. - Facebook

KUALA LUMPUR - Zulfadhli Zulkifli of Kuala Kubu Bharu, Hulu Selangor, Zulfadhli Zulkifli never knew about a type of bivalve, known as "etak” found in Alor Lempah River, Ampang Pecah,until he married a Kelantanese woman in 2018.

"Etak” is a small, pebble-sized, freshwater corbicula clam which lives at the bottom of rivers and canals, alongside scavenging fishes and crustaceans. Mostly found in the shallows and sandy parts of the river, they are least known or simply neglected by most Malaysians.

Zulfadhli, 35 said that since his school days, the Alor Lempah River, which is about one kilometre from his house, has been his favourite place for him and his friend to bathe, picnic and also fish.

"I didn't know that the small pebble-sized creature that looked like a sea shell is edible until I was told by my wife, Nur Fatin Mohd Satar, 32, when we went to the river for a picnic,” he told Bernama recently.

Zulfadhli, who is a professional photographer, said since then he started learning to eat the "etak” from his wife.

He said the "etak” has to be cooked, either smoked, which can be taken as snacks, or cooked in coconut milk, like "masak lemak”, and eaten with rice.

"Whatever way it is cooked, the etak, which is a traditional snack of the Kelantan people, has become my favourite dish.

"So now, whenever I go back to my parent's house, my wife and I will go to the river to look for the bivalves by using plastic baskets or food covers, motorcycle baskets and also fan covers,” he added.

Retired army officer Sabudin Azizan, 47, from Batu Muda, here, said he would take his family for a picnic at the river and would also look for the "etak”.

"It is fun and can be made a family activity,” he said.

Meanwhile, a lecturer at the Faculty of Earth Science, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Prof Dr Aweng Eh Rak said the "etak”, or scientifically known as Corbicula fluminea, can be found in Malaysia in sandy and silty rivers and lakes.

"A fast-flowing river with clear water and has a sandy river bed will have golden yellow etak, while the ones found in a silty river will be darker or black in colour,” he added.

Aweng, who has been doing research on the bivalves since 2017 said the freshwater species is becoming extinct because its original habitat has been damaged, including by sand dredging activities.

"In the main rivers in the country, this bivalve has become extinct. Whatever is left, is no longer suitable to be commercialised because the amount is small.

"The ones that are sold on the roadside are mostly imported from Cambodia via Thailand," he said, adding that various efforts have been made to breed the bivalve, but have yet to succeed.

Aweng said the smoked "etak” is a popular snack in Kelantan.

"The results of the study also found that smoked etak is high in protein and also contained carbohydrate and good fat,’ he said. - BERNAMA