Heatwave a blessing for some in Malaysia

Quality control: Zaib checking the salted fish being dried under the hot sun at his village in Kampung Pantai Chempaka, Kuantan.
PHOTO: The Star

SABAK BERNAM - While some are wishing for the heatwave to end, others are loving it.

One of them is Chia Chen Teck, 71, a dried shrimp manufacturer for over 30 years in Kampung Nelayan Bagan Sekinchan here.

"The hotter the better! The weather is great for drying shrimp.

"At least 500kg of dried shrimp are processed daily.

"February and March are months for high shrimp yield," he said, adding that he would wake up at 4am daily and work till night to take advantage of the weather.

Kelvin Quay, 30, who runs a business processing and distributing salted fish, is also loving the scorching heat.

"The hot weather is perfect for drying salted fish and it also results in better tasting fish," he said.

He offers customers 20 to 30 types of fish like mackerel, Spanish mackerel, ray and eel. Up to 1,000kg of fish are set out to dry daily.

He said his company, which was passed down from his father who started the business 20 years ago, is the longest running one in the village.

But he has no intention of having his children continuing the family business.

"It is hard work. I want them to get a good education and have a more comfortable job, instead of toiling in the sun like me," he said.

In Kuala Terengganu, the scorching heat is also putting smiles on the faces of keropok entrepreneurs.

Many of them, including those involved in the small and medium sized enterprises in Pengkalan Setar here, view the El Nino phenomenon a blessing in disguise as their keropok dry faster and their income is soaring.

Nor Mahni Abd Ghani, 42, said the scorching heat helps to increase the quality and quantity of her product. It also helps to increase the lifespan and the expiry date.

"The business that we are in needs this kind of weather especially after the monsoon season which dampens the business," she said when met yesterday.

During the normal days, Nor Mahni said it would take about eight hours to completely dry the keropok, but now the process has been reduced by almost half the time.

Zainab Awang, 65, fondly known as Mak Nab Keropok, who has been in the business for more than 30 years said keropok produced during this period would last longer and less likely to become mouldy.

In Kuantan, the scorching weather was also welcomed by salted fish suppliers who were happy as their products would dry faster.

Kampung Pantai Chempaka villager Zaib Alip, 61, said it would normally take 10 hours to dry the salted fish but these days, it only took eight hours or less.

However, Zaib, who supplies salted fish to night markets, had to keep watch as well as the taste and quality would drop if it was too dry.

"My customers do not like to buy over-dried salted fish. I have to set the time during the drying process to get it just right," he said.

Zaib said for every kg of fresh fish, its weight must be reduced by three times, and that was when the quality was the best.

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