Most of us can say we distinguish a fancy upperclass restaurant by the amount of caviar on the menu. This is because caviar is a delicacy that you won’t find lying around the house. In fact, this salt-cured roe is usually a garnish or spread to a dish with fresh caviar being more valuable. However, for Malaysians who are interested in cooking with caviar, it can be a struggle to find this at the local supermarket. Knowing that this struggle exists, T’Lur is here to help you get your hands on locally grown caviar!
T’Lur Brings You Our First Ever Local Caviar
The first thing to remember about caviar is that the fishes from the Acipenseridae family (also known as sturgeon), is known for inhabiting cold waters. Due to this, sturgeons are not known to grow here and local caviar is a completely new thing.
Not letting this stop him, Chien Wei Ho, a Taiwanese man, came to Malaysia in search for good land and clean water. His dream to farm sturgeons here came true in 2008 after stumbling upon a 3.3 acre farm in Tanjung Malim, Perak.
However, due to the nature of the fish, there was a lot of experimenting with the fishes. After finally figuring out how to acclimatise the fish to our warm tropical weather, a new journey began.
After consulting with experts from around the globe, the team behind T’Lur (pronounced as telur) now have tropical caviar! They are now introducing their product to the local market after a lot of hard work.
Currently, the products from T’Lur come from the Siberian, Amur, and Kaluga-Amur sturgeons. Soon, there will also be caviar from the Kaluga, Beluga, Russian, and Paddlefish species. These still require some time to mature.
In fact, the sturgeons mature faster here than they do elsewhere. For example, some may take up to 8 years to mature while the ones here only need about 4 years. There must be something in the waters!
How T’Lur Grows Tropical Caviar
Firstly, once the fish reaches a certain weight and size, the team conducts an ultrasound. This will allow them to determine if there are enough eggs for harvesting. However, prior to this they will also take out some of the eggs to see the size.
When the fish is ready, it is put into quarantine in a separate pond. Then, the team will stun, de-blood, and open up the belly. While this does not sound like a pleasant process, the team is hoping to one day carry out ikejime. This is a Japanese method to slaughter the fish and is seen as the most humane way.
Next, the eggs are extracted and measured before being separated from the membranes. A good wash comes next to make sure everything is as clean as can be.
Moving on, the salting process includes using Himalayan salt, sea salt, and also our own Bario salt. By using high quality salt, the real flavour of the eggs will be the highlight of the show.
After chilling in the chiller for a week or two, the caviar is then packed into smaller T’Lur tins. Just waiting to be eaten! Do note that because this is tropically grown caviar, it will taste different than your typical one.
This is due to all the different factors that go into farming and harvesting the fish eggs. However, T’Lur stands by their product and firmly believes that this should be taken as a new standard for tropical caviar.