A Malaysian man caused an uproar on social media after he posted a video of him preparing and cooking a fish called the luohan.
The controversy stems from the fact that the luohan, which costs around RM 2,845 ($664), is considered more of a pet than food.
The popular ornamental aquarium fish, also known as flowerhorn fish, is believed to bring good luck to its owners, reports the Straits Times. Hobbyists love to keep them for their vibrant colors and distinctively protruding forehead.
At the center of the issue is Muhammad Firdaus Othman, who reportedly purchased the flowerhorn fish from his friends and prepared it like any other fish.
He began by removing the fish’s bump and adding turmeric on it as seasoning.
After frying the fish, the 28-year-old man from Ipoh later shared the cooked meal with his friends.
In the video he posted on his Facebook page, Othman can be heard saying “nothing but fat” as he chopped off the hump of the fish.
He also posted photos of the fish being prepared and fried to a golden brown, pointing out that the fish turned out “tasty, sweet and juicy”.
He captioned the post with: “Served hot right away from the pan, super delicious fried fish.”
In an interview with the Sinar Harian newspaper, he said he “didn’t think anything strange” about eating the fish.
“The fish tastes like tilapia but nicer. So far, my friends and I have not had any side effects from eating the fish,” said Othman.
Within less than a week, his post became widely shared, receiving over 5,000 likes and more than 23,000 shares. The video in which he prepared the fish has so far been viewed over 4 million times.
Netizens who criticized his action questioned how he could eat fish that is meant for an aquarium.
“When the luohan we reared died some time ago, we gave it to the neighbors,” a netizen remarked. We couldn’t bear to eat the fish.”
In an update to his post, Othman addressed his critics by writing, “What do u mean cannot be eat? Fish is kind of food, that vivid and beautiful look doesn’t mean you can’t touch it.”