Suntong tutok — it’ll make you want more

Salim with his delicious suntong tutok.

Suntong tutok (dried smashed cuttlefish) fans can now enjoy their favourite snack at any time without having to wait for the month of Ramadan to arrive.

To those unfamiliar with it, suntong tutok is dried cuttlefish grilled over charcoal before being smashed repeatedly using a hammer until it is flattened and soft.

“It may sound simple or uninteresting, but wait until you taste it with a special dipping sauce!” said Salim Brahim, who has been selling this snack for about 30 years under the name ‘Sotong Salim’.

According to the 61-year-old from Kampung Bintawa Ulu, he initially ran the business part-time in 1990 before moving to Aneka Rasa Satok Hawker Centre in 1995.

Suntong tutok with the dipping sauce.

However, after being laid off due to the economic crisis in 1997, Salim decided to sell suntong tutok full-time.

Salim said in the old days, when the price of fresh cuttlefish was only RM20 per kilo, he sold the snack for only RM0.20 for a small rectangular size and it was very popular, especially among children.

“Due to the rising price of cuttlefish (up to RM150 per kilo), it is impossible for me to sell at the same price (RM0.20) now. Moreover, I only use expensive cuttlefish.

“Yes, there are cheaper ones but I did not buy them so that I could maintain the quality and taste.”

He also sells his own homemade dipping sauce as well as rojak kangkung and rojak tauhu, both of which are prepared with or without brown squid.

“I also sell fresh brown squid (usually found in mi belacan or rojak kangkung) for RM26 per kilo but, for buyers who buy the squid 10kg and above, I only charge them RM25 per kilo.”

He added that in a day, he could make RM200 to RM600, depending on the weather and the number of customers.

Salim said when he first sold the sauce to the public, he received a lot of criticism related to its taste, which according to his customers, was inconsistent.

To overcome this, he used the same measurement every time he made the sauce.

Suntong tutok can be made by anyone, however, the taste depends entirely on the dipping sauce.

Brown squid.

“Just like satay or roti canai — it will taste better if the gravy or dipping sauce is good enough,” he pointed out, adding that customers could buy his dipping sauce for RM12 a bottle.

Meanwhile, when asked on the challenges he faced during his entrepreneurial journey, he said the one that stuck out the most was when he first sold suntong tutok.

When he first started the business, he had knocked his fingers many times as he was still unskilled.

Dipping sauce.

“Today, I can smash the cuttlefish accurately, even when I’m not looking,” he chuckled.

Another challenge, Salim said, was unable to operate for three months due to the movement control order in March last year.

His son used the power of social media to promote his products while at the same time providing delivery services.

A regular customer, Kassim Sahari, 64, said he and his family loved Salim’s dipping sauce because it tasted very good compared to others.

According to him, the sauce, which can last up to a month if stored properly, was not only delicious to eat with suntong tutok but also with other types of food such as grilled fish, salted fish and cucur (fritters). Sotong Salim can be found at the Aneka Rasa Satok Hawker Centre (Stall No 6) near the Satok Bridge here every day from 5pm, or visit his Facebook page to make reservations.