Stingray - Nyonya. Chinatown, NYC.
Nyonya in Chinatown, NYC.
Whenever I order an exotic dish that involves some taboo body part or uncommon culinary creature, I hope it comes to the table resembling said thing as much as possible. (It's the five year-old in me that loves to scare the little girls with a lizard.) Typically, it doesn't arrive looking anything like it used to. The reason may be decorum. I suppose most people don't really want to see what they're eating.
Happily, this was not the case at Nyonya, a fantastic Malaysian eatery in New York's Chinatown. Ecstatic to see stingray on the menu, I immediately ordered it.
You can get stingray prepared a couple of ways at Nyonya. One way is wrapped in lotus leaf layered with sambal (chili sauce). Or the way I had it, simmered in low heat with a lemongrass broth. I would've completely understood if the stingray was served in fillet form considering the size of this sea monster. When it was presented in all its wholeness, sans tail, I was impressed and overwhelmed. It filled up the very large platter. Bring your friends or your local tee-ball team if you want to order the stingray. Moreover, the ray's meat is dense and the flavor, complex. The texture of the meat is a cross between fish and lobster. The meat flakes yet has a significant chew. Adding further flavor to the dish is its skin which is similar to a thick skinned catfish. Stingray is pleasantly well designed for eating. Its skeletal frame, like a leaf and its veins, is made up of the central spine and a parallel series of long, thick bones that angle down towards the tail. This makes it easy to slide off the ample white flesh. Stingray has a light fish taste and is nicely balanced with the lemongrass.
I tried to eat as much as I could, but, as any of the Willy Wonka kids can tell you, too much of a good thing can get you into tummy trouble.