Road trip part 3-Quest for horse shoe crabs (belangkas)

“The horseshoe crab or Atlantic horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) is a marine chelicerate arthropod. Despite its name, it is more closely related to spiders, ticks, and scorpions than to crabs…”.YIKES?!! (read more here)

Alhamdulillah,Im learning new things everyday.On my recent village trip in Malaysia, I learnt a new local delicacy-Horse Shoe crab aka Belangkas in malay. I know in Malay proverb “macam belangkas” which meant a couple is “sticky”,u can always see them together anywhere everywhere, normally that happens when they just fall in love or newly weds.Anyway,horse shoe crabs are normally found together,male and female.The females are normally eaten while the males are put back originally where they were found.

In America a litre of their blood cost about USD$5000.DO u know that their blood is blue? Interesting right?Their blood has anti-toxin properties.

As I probe more, I was told that the locals eat them for strength.They must be cooked by the experienced cos if cooked wrongly, it can be poisonous.The poison in their body need to be removed.But as the couple that I interviewed said(thanks Hj Ibrahim and family for sharing and for their hospitality and delicious belangkas cooked in kampung culinary!) “the food poisoning/poisonous spread normally occurs when customers request for it to be “bakar” (bbq/roasted/charcoaled grilled) cos the poison in the stomach will burst and spread out.But do not fear,if u feel dizzy after consuming it,just drink fresh coconut juice,that is the antidote.But dont worry, in our restaurant, we clean it thoroughly and remove the poison”

Some elders said dont drink coffee after eating Belangkas ,again the lovely couple stressed that this applies only for Belangkas bakar (bbq/charcoaled grilled/roasted).Its up to you. As for me, I ensure no caffeine is present.Even the fiery orangey milk tea (teh tarik) although it was really calling out to me to drink it, I ignore its pleas. (but later regret it…hehe!)

Do check out my previous post before u read this post:

There are 2 popular Belangkas eatery in Kota Tinggi. One is located in the direction towards Desaru and the other is nearer to Kota Tinggi city centre.

Im not sure what am I putting myself in by searching for this critters.Lil fear crept but Im adamant to know how it taste like.Come on if the Crown Prince love it, it shouldn’t be that bad, right? Hmm….

Old johor city and crocodile farm in the vicinity…

Upon reaching the junction,we passed by a small kampung like eatery but took no notice cos there werent any signs or indication that this is the stall we are looking for and so we head till the end .We reached the seaside and asked the locals.

U know I always ponder why do ladies have no trouble admitting they are lost and asked for directions when men dont? But I think men who asked for directions are sexy cos its a one in a million.But luckily for me, the men and women who travel with me are not shy or embarassed to ask around for directions when they are lost cos they know if they are shy, then they will be leaving with empty tummy!! hehehe! *I trained them well…Well done my makan kaki friends!

Ok so we got lost and end up at a beautiful pier.Asked the locals and they give us a very basic direction go straight and u will see a yellow roof top/canvas top (?!?)

When u see this sign,STOP! There is no signage or indication but I had told the owners my 2cents worth of opinion about a signage or banner which is a necessity for people like me (often got lost).

We go straight in many directions and then we have this great feeling that the first shop that we ignored is the ONE.Thus we head there and we were RIGHT! YIPEE!

No customer was around.Soon we found out why.The Belangkas dish will not be ready till 11am.And this shop opened at 7am but they served breakfast dish till 11am. And so feeling a bit disappointed but keeping an open mind (cos that is what travelling is) we embrace the nasi lemak with chunks of freshly fried chicken and dollops of homemade kampung sweet sambal (chilli paste).Some of us tried their fried noodles.

I love the fragrant kampung nasi lemak.Simple,pleasing to the eyes yet rich and yummy! Its not a wasted trip after all.kept glancing at the watch..its only 10am. *sigh.We need to depart soon cos I need to be at the Mahkota Restaurant cos they said by 12pm,lunch hour,it will be crowded and the dish will be GONE,finished…

Right after my mind voiced out its unfounded worries silently, Hj Ibrahim and family bring out the hot and piping BELANGKAS in large tray.YIPEE!!Alhamdulillah.

One of us ordered goat’s milk (in sachet) just as precaution.Cos milk normally can neutralise any poison when consumed (is it true?)hmm.. For me, mineral water is enough.

They also sell local fresh produce of herbal plants (ulam) eaten as salad with chilli paste.

OMG, this has got to be the freshes crab I ever tasted.just caught this morning.The shell is not that hard.Almost brittle, u can taste the taste of the river as u taste the white flesh of the crab dancing in your tongue.YUMMY!
travel tip/trick: Elders often advise me to order crabs during full moon season cos then thecrabs caught will be meatier and fleshier.Really? Anyone can vouch that?Hmm…

And the moment of truth is here….HORSE SHOE CRABs!!! Can I stomach this?

Ah…look at the eggs….

One look it looked like Dhal seeds/lentils (kacang dhal)…

We took a piece each and then stare blankly at it.Wondering who has the guts to try it first.Of course,the Princess has to start the ball rolling…Drums please *imaginary drums beating I pickerd up the hard thick shell and wonder where to start?Where is the flesh? I know they got many eggs but where is it? I picked and peeled and TA-DA! There it was.True there werent much flesh and roes are too many, too much…that 3 pieces the zize of my small palm is enough for all of us.

First impression,the taste of flesh is a cross breed between sting ray and crab.The famous dish is “Asam pedas kering” which is a delightful taste. I had always love this ASAM PEDAS (mixture of spicy sour sweet gravy)But this is cooked till the gravy thicken almost evaporated off till its belangkas soaked up the rich flavours.

Of all the 3 shells, each of us (4 buddies) had a chance to taste a pinch of flesh.The eggs are as big as salmon roes.They were cooked till its springy solid.Queer taste but nice.No smell.The asam pedas has some black peppery taste too.Love it! (note: U might get a tiny after taste later on.Some of us have,some of us dont, but in Mahkota ..all of us have the after taste queer feeling in our tongues..)

Are these feelers or some sort?

Thank you Hj Ibrahim and family for ur warm friendly welcome and delicious food!

Went back to the kitchen,the owner and wife greeted me and welcome my curiousity mind with helpful answers and tips.Even though the wife (the cook) orignate from Johor bahru,she gleefully settled down here and learn the local cuisine.Fyi,they just started cooking Belangkas 2-3 years back.The humble cook kept saying profusely that their food are typical kampung taste thus it migh not be as fancy but I beg to differ (as I compare with the Mahkota cuisine later on). Daily,they sold about 30-40 Belangkas.And on weekends the amount can rise up to double.I am touched by their friendliness and down to earth attitude.Alhamdulillah this has been a fruitful journey.

Overall Verdict: I love their food 4.7 out of 5 stars! For BELANGKAS newbies like us, do eat at this restaurant first before u try the ones at Mahkota.And if u want them to cook in chilli coconut gravy (lemak cili padi), it can be done..insya-Allah. Do try their fried chicken and fragrant nasi lemak and dont forget tot aste their fiery orangey milk tea (teh tarik!!Bring some back to Singapore, for me ok?.. *lil regret hehe!)

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Driving instructions/Directions (thanks Bud!):

-Take 2nd link causeway

-Cross over immigration at Sultan Abu bakr Complex
-Drive thru Tanjung Kupang toll RM$10.80
-Drive past Geylang Patah RSA

-Drive on E3 expressway till u see a signage to Senai Airport

-Filter left towards SEnai
-Drive towards E22 till u cross over Senai Toll
-Drive towards till you exit Ulu Tiram
-Exit Ulu Tiram toll

-Drive onwards till end of expressway and u will be heading on highway no.3 towards Kota Tinggi
-Drive towards Teluk Sengat (Johor Lama)
-You will see highway no.92 towards Desaru
-Once u see Teluk Sengat signage,turn right.
Its the first and only stop at the junction of the road towards Teluk Sengat.
Ok,lets head out to Mahkota Restaurant where the Crown Prince love to frequent for Belangkas cooked in same way-asam pedas kering.

Travel tip.trick:Whenever u are lost, just head out to the nearest gas stations and asked the locals.Key word-Belangkas Mahkota (pronounced as “ber-lung-cast Ma-co-ter”)

Located just opposite Esso petrol station.Near Tun Sri Lanang bridge.U will see a restaurant in lower ground.U need to look at the roof,cos the banner is on the roof.So take note.
Look at their accolades on the walls….

Ah it is….BELANGKAS!Mussels

Fish head curry…

OMG, is that LOKAN (left)?! YIPEE!! Mom, I eat this for you…Right hand side is “lala”

We are kinda full but who ordered these???

We were getting cranky from the heat (35r degrees) and as the waiter asked us,we lost interest in the questions and agree to everything he said and end up…TA-DA!Wholesome array of dishes.

Kampung chicken cooked in curry is a MUST TRY! Delicious! Kampung chicken is free range birds left in the wild unlike the typical farm stay cooped chickens we consumed. Ah, LOKAN…I remember searching high and lows for Lokan when my mom was in town. But I failed to get some for her and now I know where to get them…alhamdulillah.

Steamed gong gong (above) and crabs in lemak cili padi (coconut spicy gravy)

The asam pedas gravy is DELICIOUS!! The fish has a weird name something like “yong, or wang or something like that”Anyway it is similar to Ikan duri (lots of bones, watch out!)

Their longan drinks are a MUST-TRY.Thirst quenching yummilicious!Ice milk tea and ice tea with calamansi lime are local favourites anywhere in Malaysia.
Overall verdict: The belangkas here has a stronger after taste that we get kinda “enough” after one lick.Perhaps we had too much BELANGKAS in one day.Or we are not used to it.Anyway, the asam pedas kering is spicier with black peppery taste.
I LOVE the kampung chicken curry, asam pedas gravy (the fish not so cos it has lots of bones), LOKAN cooked in dry curry, gong-gong and the rest are good too.If I have more tummy space, I woul dhave tried the mussels, lala and whatever they got in their kitchen…but right now ,alhamdulillah Im satisfied.
As compared to Hj Ibrahim stall, I prefer their BELANGKAS than this one.Perhaps, first impression is often everlasting….

As we finish up our meals, hungry lunch crowds filling up those empty seats almost instantaneously. *Burp Alhamdulillah.We finish ours and head to our next journey…

Too bad,they have run out of business cards and was too busy to answer my queries.(cos suddenly lunch crowd pop up without any warning almost filling up every empty seats)Anyway do contact Pak Hamid at +6019-7061680.Sunday is closed.Opens daily from 10am till 2pm(best time is 11am) ..I heard by 12.30pm, dishes will be almost sold out (WHAT?!?!) hmm….

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Are crabs,sealions,penguins and frogs HALAL?-Ok to those who are having doubts about horse shoe crabs…And for those who are curious like me about penguins and on for our knowledge…-Alhamdulillah from MUIS correspondent

Assalamualaikum Wr Wb,

In the name of Allah Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessing be upon His Messenger.

Dear Putri, thank you for your query. We are heartened by your efforts in strengthening the deen.

1) With regards to the horseshoe crab or better known as king crab or belangkas, the belangkas is permissable or halal, similar to the ruling for crabs, because the belangkas is categorized as an animal in the water domain.

The crab is categorized as an animal living in the water domain. Crabs can live fully in the water, and originate from the water whether it be from salt or fresh water. There is confusion with regards to the permissablity status of the crab because many regard the eating of the crab as non permissable or not halal as it can live in two domains, both land and water. However the crab is halal for consumption as it can actually only live in one domain only, that is the water domain, and not both permanently. It can only go on land for a brief period in time, and depends it’s survival for being primarily in the water. Hence, the crab is halal as long as it is neither poisonous nor dangerous to man. This is the same ruling for the belangkas.

Animals that are considered to be able to live in two domains, land and water, are called amphibians. Some include frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians. These are not halal according to the mazhab of Syafii. The crab and belangkas are not under amphibians category.

2) There are several species of animals that can live primarily on land for long periods of time like the penguin or sealion. In this aspect, these animals have to be slaughtered in accordance with Islamic syari’ah before consumption by the Muslim.

May Allah bless you and your family, amin.Wallahu alam.Wsalam.

p.s: If I did not blog about where I sleep,that means Im lying down enjoying nature at its best in open spaced areas , forested area or wherever that is FREE…beneath the dazzling sparkling starz display.Cos this is a budget roadtrip…who says u cannot travel when ur $$ flow is low? hehe!

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