Field notes

The miracle of Malaysian caviar

Not far from bustling Kuala Lumpur, farmed sturgeon are thriving in the tropical heat - and producing one of the most expensive foods in the world

DC Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur serves caviar as a topping on crab ice cream (far left) and as a garnish on sturgeon carpaccio (left).
Sturgeon, some weighing up to 100kg each, in spring water at Baolai’s facility in Tanjong Malim.ST PHOTOS: SHANNON TEOH
DC Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur serves caviar as a topping on crab ice cream (far left) and as a garnish on sturgeon carpaccio (left).
DC Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur serves caviar as a topping on crab ice cream (above) and as a garnish on sturgeon carpaccio.ST PHOTOS: SHANNON TEOH
Above: Sturgeon, some weighing up to 100kg each, in spring water at Baolai's facility in Tanjong Malim.
DC Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur serves caviar as a topping on crab ice cream and as a garnish on sturgeon carpaccio (above). ST PHOTOS: SHANNON TEOH
DC Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur serves caviar as a topping on crab ice cream (far left) and as a garnish on sturgeon carpaccio (left).
Everyone at Baolai has a hand in preparing T’lur caviar, including its Malaysian co-founder A. J. Lim (in mask and gown). He credits his founding partner Chien Wei Ho with the secret of keeping sturgeon alive in a tropical climate.ST PHOTOS: SHANNON TEOH
Everyone at Baolai has a hand in preparing T'lur caviar, including its Malaysian co-founder A. J. Lim (in mask and gown). He credits his founding partner Chien Wei Ho (in striped shirt) with the secret of keeping sturgeon alive in a tropical climate.
Everyone at Baolai has a hand in preparing T'lur caviar, including its Malaysian co-founder A. J. Lim. He credits his founding partner Chien Wei Ho (in striped shirt) with the secret of keeping sturgeon alive in a tropical climate.ST PHOTOS: SHANNON TEOH

Tanjong Malim's peace is usually disturbed only by trailers carrying newly built cars out of Proton City, an insofar failed project that houses the Malaysian carmaker's factory in this Perak border town north of Selangor state.

But, in a serene 1.3ha plot hidden at the foot of the Titiwangsa mountain range, half a million lives were sacrificed in an idea that experts had called madness.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2019, with the headline 'The miracle of Malaysian caviar'. Subscribe