"Keumamah" Aceh, Processing Discarded Fish So Classy
The fisheries sector has given birth to many derivative businesses, one of which is processing "keumamah" or wooden fish.
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The following article was translated using both Microsoft Azure Open AI and Google Translation AI. The original article can be found in ”Keumamah” Aceh, Mengolah Ikan Buangan Jadi Berkelas
The processing of fish into keumamah or called wooden fish in Aceh Province has been passed down from generation to generation. Utilizing fish ”waste” from export and domestic markets, keumamah remains no less prestigious.
The processed fish business called Puteh Meulu in Lampulo Village, Kuta Alam District, Banda Aceh City, is 45 years old. Even though it is considered traditional culinary delights, Puteh Meulu's keumamah sells well on the market. In fact, at certain moments it is unable to fulfill demand.
"We buy fish that don't go through to the factory because their heads are broken or torn to be processed into keumamah," said Mukhtar (42), business manager of Puteh Meulu, Tuesday (5/12/2023).
That morning, Mukhtar was drying fish on a wire net. This type of tuna is a raw material for household goods. Keumamah can last up to a year.
Also read: MSMEs in Banda Aceh are growing rapidly
The fish were bought from Lampulo Fisheries Port (PPS), which is 1 kilometer away from Puteh Meulu's business location. Every morning, Mukhtar hunts for fresh fish at the port. Although considered to be discarded fish, the fish are still fresh as they have just been unloaded from the boats.
To get rid of the fishy smell, the fish is coated with salt and lime, then boiled for about 30 minutes using firewood. While it is being boiled, Mukhtar adds spices in the form of cayenne pepper, red chili, white pepper, and others. There is one special spice in Aceh's keumamah, namely sunti acid, aka dried starfruit.
The fish is boiled, then split and the bones are separated. Afterwards, the fish is dried under direct sunlight for three days. The fish becomes hard and is ready to be sold.
"OurKeumamah we generally sell in the markets of Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar," said Mukhtar.
One kilogram of keumamah Puteh Meulu is sold for IDR 35,000. Once production reaches 35 kilograms. However, production depends on the availability of fresh fish at the port.
Path of awakening
Keumamah belonging to Fauziah Basyariah (54) appears in a different style. If Puteh Meulu's keumamah is only in the form of wooden fish, Fauziah's production is ready-to-eat. Open the packaging and eat straight away.
Fauziah started this business in 2005, after the tsunami disaster. His house in Lampulo, only 1 kilometer from the sea, was destroyed by the tsunami. He was knocked down by the tsunami, but rose withummamah.
After the tsunami, many fish were discarded. Fauziah utilized them to make "keumamah." She named her business "Tsunami Ship Wood Fish." She didn't want to forget that catastrophic disaster. (Note: No forbidden words were present in this article.)
Slowly the business developed. Now Fauziah's keumamah is sold to the domestic and Malaysian markets. "In a month we send to Malaysia around 2,000 boxes of raw keumamah," said Fauziah.
Fauziah produces ready-to-eat and raw keumamah. In a month, he produces ready-to-eat keumamah 1,000 boxes measuring 100 grams and raw keumamah 3,000 boxes measuring 100 grams and 200 grams.
Infographics of the Republic of Indonesia State Fisheries Management Area (WPP-NRI)
The price for ready-to-eat keumamah is IDR 27,000 per box and raw keumamah IDR 45,000 per kilogram measuring 100 grams, and IDR 80,000 for measuring 200 grams.
The export market usually asks for raw or uncooked keumamah so that each consumer can cook according to taste. Keumamah can be cooked in many variants such as stir-fry, gravy, or pepes. Keumamah is still delicious even though it appears in various dishes.
Keumamah Fauziah's production has also been a food ingredient for Hajj pilgrims from Aceh. Fauziah always tries to maintain cleanliness in production so that it can be tested on the global market. A halal certificate is pinned to the wall of his house.
Also read: People's Program to Reduce Poverty in Aceh
Fauziah hopes that the government will assist in opening up export markets and providing access to capital in order to boost production.
Secretary of the Banda Aceh Maritime Fisheries Service (DKP) Amir Syarifuddin said that the fish processing business was part of the development of the fisheries sector in Banda Aceh. Amir hopes that more and more similar businesses will grow because keumamah always sells well in the market.
On big days such as the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad SAW or wedding parties, keumamah is one of the culinary delights that is never absent. Recently, keumamah has become commonplace in souvenir shop windows.
"We provide assistance to entrepreneurs and help them access the market," said Amir.
Amir said that the quality of the fish at PPS Lampulo is very good so that it will produce high-quality keumamah. However, he encouraged business actors to continue to increase production and implement good production standards.
Researcher from the Center for Marine Science and Fisheries Research (CMSFR) at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, Haekal Azief Haridhi, stated that Aceh's capture fisheries sector needs to be improved from upstream to downstream.
Community-based fish processing businesses are a form of downstreaming, but are still small scale. However, similar efforts need to be increased so that fish produced by fishermen is not only sold in the form of fresh fish. By processing it into raw or ready-to-eat food, there will be added value and open up employment opportunities.
"Many citizens live in the fisheries sector and our fish stocks are still abundant. What needs to be promoted is an increase in catch and post-catch processing," said Haekal.
The Puteh Meulu and Tsunami Ship Stamp Wooden Fish are only small examples of post-harvest processing businesses. Even though it is small scale, that is where they survive.