Boxed fish no small fry when fresh fish gets pricey

Photo used for illustration purposes only

KUALA TERENGGANU – For Terengganu folk who prefer fresh fish as the main source of protein, it has become the natural thing to do, to switch to ‘boxed fish’ every time the monsoon season sets in.

‘Boxed fish’ is a term often used by the people of Terengganu when referring to frozen fish either caught by local fishermen or imported from abroad.

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Housewife Shidah Abu Bakar, 51, said although boxed fish was not “sweet and juicy” like fresh fish, it was the best choice to be served to her family during the monsoon season or whenever there was a sharp increase in price.

“It is only natural that during monsoon season, many fishermen dare not go out to sea because big waves are very dangerous. This causes the price of fresh fish to increase compared to normal days.

“In the old days, we ate dried fish or salted fish during the monsoon, but the sophistication of technology now allows us to enjoy frozen fish. For me, it is better because the nutrient content is still high although not comparable to fresh fish,” she said when met by Bernama here today.

For Khadijah Ahmad, 49, there is nothing wrong with eating boxed fish during the monsoon season because her family does not have any allergies or health issues even though it does not taste as good as freshly caught fish.

“Cut your coat according to your cloth…spend according to what’s in your pocket. For me, it is necessary to make wise choices with various considerations such as food nutrition and the price that suits your budget. After all, if we buy at the wet market, honest traders will tell us which one is fresh fish and which one is the boxed fish to help us decide before buying,” she said.

It is a different kettle of fish for Rosmini Zakaria, 53, because she will only buy boxed fish when the family members, especially the children, were getting desperate and tired of chicken, eggs, canned sardines and meat during the monsoon season.

“My husband and I prefer to go fishing in the nearby creek to get fresh fish, but sometimes the children also want sea fish such as kembung and selar. We have to buy it to fulfil their demand.

“We try to avoid buying boxed fish whenever possible because we are worried about the use of chemicals to maintain its freshness which may have a negative impact on our health in the long run,” she said.

Meanwhile, Terengganu State Health director Datuk Dr Kasemani Embong said his department constantly monitored boxed fish sold in the market statewide and had not detected any use of boric acid and formaldehyde preservation on the fish, which may harm public health.

“The freezing process itself is a technique that can extend the life of fish and meat, without the need to add other chemicals as preservatives.

“The results of the monitoring carried out on boxed fish found that they are free of the two chemicals that the public has been worried about all this while,” she said.

Commenting further, Dr Kasemani said it was quite normal for the people of Terengganu, especially those who live in the coastal areas to have fresh fish as their main dish for lunch and dinner.

“However, with the rising fish prices especially during the monsoon season, boxed fish can be the preferred choice of the people in Terengganu because the freezing technology done when it is still fresh, is safe and clean,” he said.