Gosh! Am I eating a protected species?

After I tried Googling for ‘terrapin’, now I do wonder if I had eaten some protected animal. I can’t seem to find much info about terrapins and all those sites I found are pertaining to Terrapin Conservation Programmes. Gosh! I better don’t reveal where I ate these or else the poor old lady and old man may be dragged by the authorities to answer for it.


Hehehe, I am pretty sure these terrapins are reared for food because the old couple had been selling these yummy, healthy, tasty terrapin soups for more than 15 years.

I am putting lots of pics today because it is hard for me to explain what terrapin soup looks like.


I hope everyone is familiar with what terrapin is? It is from the river, exactly like a tortoise or turtle. However, the terrapin probably has more flesh and jelly-like skin.

That’s what make the terrapin so tasty. It has these slices of rubbery and jelly-like pieces plus some meat. The meat looks a little like beef.


The old couple stall is the only one I can find that sell this terrapin soup and the beef soup (ngau lam). The soup is cooked with minimal herbs and feel ‘smooth’ in taste.

Besides terrapin and beef soup, the old couple also sells wantan mee. The coffee shop is nameless and located at the junction of King Street and China Street. Directly opposite the Da Ma Cai shop. China Stree is the road right across Guan Yin Temple in Pitt Street.


I don’t know why terrapins aren’t reared for food. They taste really nice. But then, they also look very cute when alive. 🙂

I think terrapins, paddy frogs, rabbits and snakes are the most exotic foods I had tasted before. Hmmm…I wonder if I dare to stomach cats and dogs? ‘Cos my mom did tell me that cats are mighty good for the body. My grandparents ate cats, yes they do!

7 Replies to “Gosh! Am I eating a protected species?”

  1. Terrapins are not reared for food because their numbers have dwindled drastically since the last few decades. In fact, these critically-endangered species is listed in the IUCN Red List. They are also listed as one of the top 25 most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles.

    In the past, historical numbers had it that hundreds of terrapins nested in a year, but in 2003, only 45 clutches of eggs were found. In 2004, 30 clutches and in 2005, 27 clutches. (Figures for Setiu River, Terengganu)

    Their distribution is limited to South and Southeast Asia. They can be found in Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra. However, VIABLE wild populations are believed to remain ONLY in Malaysia.

    Maybe you would like to check this out.

  2. Mrs. Chan:
    Forgive me for putting this comment in the wrong place. I do not blog and came across your very interesting sites quite by accident. Please move my comment to the appropriate places.
    Penangfaces May 31, 2005: Kelawei Fish Head was featured on Bizzare Foods: Asia hosted by Chef Andrew Zimmern. He could not stomach durian, which I find somewhat ironic.
    Chempedak does not seem to have an English name. It is of the same genus as jackfruit and breadfruit.
    Re. your comment that God is within not without. You are half right. You, as a Roman Catholic who believes in Christ’s atoning blood shed on Calvary’s cross for the forgiveness of your sins, have God abiding within you. However, the theological doctrine called the “enormity of God” based on God’s attributes (mostly from Isaiah and other prophets) declares that God is BOTH in us and out there, everywhere, always and at the same time.
    It is wonderful that you are a Malaysian Roman Catholic of Hainanese ancestry. I am a Lutheran pastor of Japanese ancestry and United States citizenry.
    As to cuisine, you in Panang are far more blessed than I. The variety and fusion of so many cuisines available makes me realize I live in a cuiliary desert. By the way, don’t let your children get addicted to that American abomination, McDonald’s. Malaysia would be justified if it dropped durian bombs on my country for polluting your nation with junk food. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison.
    Semper sub Crucem Christi, Rev. Dr. Wesley Tetsuji Kan

  3. Look so yummy! It’s being a long long time since i tasted the “water turtle”! BTW, I always thot the one they serve on table are specially rear as food, and not those endangered species.

  4. Mrs Chan,
    love reading your blog but wll give this section a wide berth. I realise to ‘each his/her own’ when it comes to food but i’d never eat something i know that is on the endangered list. That’s tantamount to denying future generations from knowing what a terrapin is. Because it’s happening, right here – right now, getting every single thing that considered ‘exotic’ and putting it in the grave.
    Besides, eating exotic animals led to the SARS virus. 🙁 Mother nature does not like to be backed into a corner.

    As for cats and dogs – well it’s not the norm here in Malaysia and i hope it’ll never be. Sadly, cats and dogs are farmed all over South east asia for their body parts and fur. If only you saw how they were killed. ..

    I”m an animal activist, what can i say.

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