For the many who hesitate consuming sharks because of the industry’s horrible reputation of harvesting sharks just for their fins, take consolation that there are restaurants out there making an effort to branch out away from just using the fins to also use other parts of a shark. Not only are such steps significant in reducing waste, they encourage the average fisherman to bring back the entire shark back to port instead of simply dumping the finless sharks back into the ocean. Such innovations in cooking styles also bring different flavours and textures to the dining table.
Zai Shun Curry Fish Head
One such restaurant is called Zai Shun with their large variety of seafood dishes on offer to their diners. Incidentally, Zai Shun was awarded the Bib Gourmand by Michelin for 2017. The Bib Gourmand Award recognises “restaurants and street food establishments offering quality cuisine at a maximum price of S$45”. Zai Shun was the only restaurant in the Jurong East area that was recognised by Michelin.
While Zai Shun is known for their steamed fish and their large variety of fishes to choose from, Zai Shun is also known for its Shark’s cartilage served with a generous amount fermented bean sauce and pork lard:
The dish is best eaten fresh and just out of the steamer. The cartilage itself is tasteless but has a very rich gelatinous texture that goes well with the fermented bean sauce which completes the dish. The cartilage makes a good a side dish with rice given the strong flavours of the fermented bean sauce. I am, however, skeptical regarding the addition of lard in the dish. While the lard may have helped with the taste, I don’t think it is essential to make it into a good dish as most of the flavours would have come from the fermented bean sauce anyway. While best eaten when it is still warm, the dish was still good after a while although the gelatinous texture might come through as being too much for some and may leave a sticky feel on your lips which can be easily dealt with using a piece of tissue paper.
Stewed Pig Trotters
Other than their steamed seafood, another dish that I found to be notable would be their pig trotters that have been stewed to the point that the skin and meat just fall off the bone. This makes it easy for a trotter to be shared as you can easily separate out the meat into smaller serving portions. Be sure to get yourself some of their garlic chilli vinegar sauce. The vinegar helps cut through the fats of the pork trotter and enhances the overall taste while the garlic and chilli both add onto the already flavourful stewed pork.
It is advisable to go there early to not only beat the lunch crowd but also to have a greater variety of dishes to choose from. When we reached there around 1.30pm in the afternoon, most of the dishes were already sold out.
Zai Shun Curry Fish Head, #01-205 First Cooked Food Point, 253 Jurong East Street 24, Singapore 600253, 7am to 3pm. Closed on Wednesdays.
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