We’ve done plenty of seafood challenges before. We’ve tried some dried things too. It may not seem surprising to you that we’ve never combined the two, but when you’re in Brunei, it really is a bit of a surprise. Dried fish is everywhere. Dried anchovies on the side of your nasi lemak. Piles of dried fish that you can’t help but smell at the market. Aisles full of dried fish snacks at the supermarket. Dried shrimp and shrimp paste in your practically everything.
But for week 16, I finally brought dried fish into our challenges by challenging The Engineer to some dried chilli cuttlefish (I actually had the choice of chilli, lemon, or plain. But chilli was the winner on the day).
This one was pretty easy logistically. When we were at the supermarket, I just popped the smallest packet I could find in the trolley. We paid the 80 cents, and got on with our day. Later in the evening, I pulled it out,
forced encouraged The Engineer to sit down, ripped open the packet, snapped a quick couple of pictures, and he dug in.
The Engineer probably wasn’t quite excited as he looks in the picture. But he gave it a go anyway. And his response was:
‘I can’t just blog hmmmm‘ I replied.
So he elaborated a little more. He said it was quite sweet, super chewy, and really not that bad. And he wasn’t lying. The flavour is not something I came across much in New Zealand, but is pretty popular here. Quite sweet, a little salty, and definitely fishy. Sambal (chilli paste with shrimp) is everywhere, and has a similar flavour (but usually a LOT more spice). You can also get a huge range of snacks with this taste. Including, apparently, dried cuttlefish.
Although we both said it ‘wasn’t that bad’, I don’t think we ate any more after that first bite. Mostly because of the smell. The taste might not be ‘that bad’, but the smell was a little too fishy, and a little too much. To make it worse, we had just been given some mangos from our neighbours tree. So the house already smelt pretty strongly of tropical fruit. The tropical fruit/dried fish combo was overpowering. So the dried cuttlefish hit the bin. (And the last mango may soon follow – turns out neither of us are fans, however unpopular that may be.)