~ The Flavor of Fish Ball Spread Half A Century ~
Gourmet with History
Legend went back to the Southern Song Dynasty, there was an emperor who liked nothing but fish at every meal. This made the imperial chefs in the palace very nervous all day long. If the emperor was accidentally stuck in throat with fish bones because of the mishandled fish, the heads of the chefs would fall on the ground at any time. An old imperial chef stumbled upon after slashing the fish with the back of a knife, that the flesh and bones of the fish separated automatically. He then scraped the flesh of the fish, beat it on the cutting board and formed a paste, mixed with egg whites and seasonings, rolled it into balls, cook the balls in water and served, calling them "fish fillets". The emperor praised this innovative cuisine and ordered it into the daily menu.
Looking back to 1971, in the endless stream of Kee Ann Road, an old bicycle stall parked on the side of the street was selling Tan’s Teochew Fishball. The delicious fish balls were very similar to the fish fillets that the emperor loved, but under the baptism of history, "fish fillets" in today's general refers to sashimi, and the "fish fillets" then created by the imperial chef become today's fish balls.
Traditional Flavor, Innovative Development
The pictures of the former imperial chefs making fish balls carefully in the imperial kitchen are recreated in the production base of Tan’s Teochew Fishball, located in Pengkalan Rama Pantai.
Tan’s Teochew Fishball appeared on Kee Ann Road at a regular time from start-up to 1985, selling the freshest fish balls to old and new customers. After 1985, the founder Tan Ngee Chai moved his stall from Kee Ann Road to Heeren Street with his five children and other family members, continuing to draw more customers to enjoy the delicious Teochew fish balls. At that time, this small family business Tan’s Teochew Fishball gradually expanded in size. The Tan family bought machinery and hired more employees to produce fish balls in a semi-mechanized mode. At the same time, the second generation of the family , Tan Nyat Hwa and Tan Kwang Hua, joined and brought new elements into business. In addition to producing and distributing its specialty, Teochew fish balls, which the family was proud of, the Tan family business had also taken a big step forward by developing a variety of fish products.
Sincerely-run business never lacks supporters. With the persistence of making high-quality fish balls, Tan’s Teochew Fishball had accumulated loyal distributors, captured the taste buds of different generations of diners, and made its business to flourish. In 1997, in order to follow the trend, Tan’s Teochew Fishball again moved to the industrial zone of Batu Berendam. Here, Batu Berendam scaled up again. The Tan family introduced large machinery, set up systems and production lines, and improved the efficiency of making fish balls so as to meet the increasing demand.
The most taboo for running business is marking time, instead, pursing innovation and progress can only help to stand firm in the market. Tan’s Teochew Fishball was well aware of this truth, and therefore began to implement the longitudinal development strategy. In 2006, the company became not only the producer of fish balls and fish food, but also the seller, and started the retail business, which meant that customers could directly buy the company products in Batu Berendam wholesale market and the Tan Nyat Hwa & Brothers Sdn Bhd that was only in the next street of the market. Meanwhile, the third generation of the Tan, Tan Qing He and Tan Wei Chean developed the production lines of bean-curd skin and Yong Tau Foo (tofu filled with ground meat mixture or fish paste)
In order to ensure high-quality of the fish balls, Tan’s Teochew Fishball carefully selected the raw materials for the fish balls, including saito saury , yellowtail, snapper, yellow eel and other kinds of fish. Plus,the fish ball is free of any borax and additives. Due to health concerns, the company was using white steel machinery to produce the fish balls.
From the old bicycle stall in the past to the retail business at present, though with the assistance of machinery, Tan’s Teochew Fishball still sticks to the principle of "make today, sell today" for diners to taste the fresh and chewy traditional Teochew fish balls in this era of fast food. In addition, in order to increase the customer group, Tan’s Teochew Fishball takes initiative to develop diversified fish products and sells them at a reasonable price. Everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the delicacy of the fish!
Currently, Tan’s Teochew Fishball has totally 40 employees. Besides supplying fish ball and fish food to the local market in Malacca, the company also provides fish ball and food to Negeri Sembilan, Johore (mainly to Muar and Batu Pahat) and neighboring Singapore.
As the saying goes, "It's easy to start a business, but hard to keep it running in good shape". However, the Tan family has worked hard together to lead Tan’s Teochew Fishball to one peak after another, and now occupies a pivotal position in the local market of Malacca. In the future, Tan’s Teochew Fishball will prepare to enter the food and beverage industry as well as develop online delivery services.
Tan’s Teochew Fishball promises that, while adhering to the quality of fish balls, the company will continue to innovate and develop more diversified products and strive for the ambitious vision of "To become everyone's preferred brand of fish balls". It implies that Tan’s Teochew Fishball which was founded nearly half a century ago would be pass down from generation to generation.