Lei Yue Mun the fishing village in Hong Kong was filled with tanks and basins of live fish. Signs all around proclaimed fresh seafood and excellent cooking. But not a single store was open, everything was shuttered.
“But it is only 11 in the morning” said a fisherman who was sitting by the pier. “Everybody sleeping or cleaning.”
He pointed to a nearby shack where they were selling noodles and rice. But I was adamant I wanted the complete and authentic seafood experience especially after an eventful bus ride.
I explained in as simple English as I could where I was from, what I do and that I had come all the way for fresh sea food. He sighed and felt obliged to help me. It may also be because he understood it as that I had come all the way from India to eat the seafood.
He took me through a maze of aisles to a shop at the corner of the bazaar where a pot bellied man was sleeping on a table. With two taps he woke the man and spoke to him in hushed tones.
” He my friend will help you”.
The friend handed me a net and pointed to a large cement basin a 100 yard away with a curt
In the basin there were a lot of small fishes, prawns and some eel like fish. I got down to business.
Whoever said that catching prawns from a basin is easy is just wrong. It took me forever and I still did not catch anything.
My endeavors had created a little spectacle and a crowd had gathered to watch my fishing escapades.
The friend finally lost his patience. He brought a small plastic bucket with a little water,caught a few prawns from the basin and threw them into the bucket and repeated his previous instruction – “Catch fish.”
I am pleased to say that I made progress and three prawns were trapped in my net. The gathered crowd clapped their hands at my success.
I proudly took the prawns to the friend and said “Fry”.
“Ok, Ok” he said . He dropped the prawns in a saucepan of boiling water.
While the prawns were being cleaned( I assumed) in boiling water, the friend set a table for me and offered me a cup of tea. I took out a book to read while I waited for the prawns to be cleaned and fried.
I had barely read a page when the friend placed a plate of three boiled prawns and a bowl of sticky rice in front of me.
I looked the prawns with their eyes bulging and said ” No. no boil.Prawn fry”.
“Ok, Ok” said the friend again not moving from where he stood.
I tried again. “Oil fry..?”
Came the reply again “Ok. Ok.”
I swallowed one of the prawns with much difficulty. When I felt nauseous at the thought of having to swallow another one I decided that I had had the complete and authentic seafood experience.
I paid the bill and I left the bazaar fifty dollars lighter for all my troubles!