Once a novice with raw fish, she hones her craft to takes over late husband's fish soup stall
Once a complete novice in cleaning fish, a woman now runs her late husband’s fish soup stall – gutting, cleaning, and filleting fish all by herself.
After her Singaporean husband died from lung cancer five years ago, Vietnam-born Mai Thi Ngoc Yen had little choice but to take over the hawker stall to support her three young daughters.
The stall, Hai Kee Seafood, is located at Blk 210, Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Market & Hawker Centre.
Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, the 34-year-old, who prefers to be known as Ah Yen, said she came to Singapore in 2008 to look for a job.
She met her husband – who was a fishmonger then – through her friend, and got married after they fell in love.
Unfortunately, Yen’s husband died six months after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2018.
A month after his death, she decided to continue business at the fish soup stall as she had no source of income. She had some experience in the trade, given that her mother was also a hawker selling pho (Vietnamese noodles).
She said: “After I got married, I would also help out at the stall. But to manage the stall I had to know how to do everything.”
Prepping fish, for example, was a whole new ball game for her; a tedious task her late husband never let her take on.
"The first day that I opened the stall, the fish was on the chopping board and I didn't know what to do with it," she said.
But Yen, who is now a Singaporean, learnt the craft slowly, and continued with the same recipe as her late husband's.
The stall continues to attract a regular pool of customers, including patrons from her husband's time.
While she gets help from her daughters, aged eight, 12, and 14, to run the stall, she said she doesn't let her youngest handle difficult tasks. She also thanked relatives and friends who helped her during her tough times.
“With life back on track, I managed to hire a helper two years ago to help take care of my father-in-law and children,” Yen said.