March 21, 2011

How Kanowit 1975 impacted me - The Empurau

I was teaching in Kanowit in 1975 and shared my life with wonderful people like Clare and Janet  to name just two. Tingang and Mr. Penns were non academic staff who ensured smooth administration.

Besides the wonderful school life and ever helpful students I learned many special things in life.

I was introduced to the strange and enormous fish called Empurau (cousin of the the Mahseer). Each one would cost us about RM30 only. But at that RM 30 was a big sum of money. In fact not many Foochows knew much about the fish. I was also given some salted empurau by the father a colleauge. It came in a huge biscuit tin. It was really amazing. Today this kind of gift is only for the YBs.

In those days we were quite limited in our knowledge of good fish actually. For example we Foochows were more interested in the Duai or white pomfret from Sarawak Cold Storage founded by Datuk Tiong Su Kuok who was also our school supplier at that time.

Today   35 + years later the Empurau is almost extinct and the rare fish has made its way to the dinner tables of the rich and famous at RM800 - RM1000 per kg!! This fish can only live in pristine riverine conditions like in some parts of the Himalayas.

Enjoy the video below.

Our life in 1975 then was a series of weekends in Sibu and weekdays in Sedaya. We had to wait for the express boats(no air conditioning) to come near our school's jetty. Jumping onto the motor launch we had to be careful because we might step on exotic meat (all wrapped up in gunny sacks) and fish strewned on the bow. Vegetarians and environmentalists might have found this scenario most offensive.

At that time our environment was still very naturally clean and fish and wild meat was plentiful. Wild boar meat was only RN3.00 in Kanowit bazaar and we always had it fresh and not frozen. Snake meat was plentiful but due to choice I did not eat it. I did not eat the river turtle at all. Now considered a delicacy I would probably eat one or two slices of river turtle meat or labi labi. These exotic meats are actually acquired taste like blue cheese. But I have really grown to love the tapah which is a wonderful tasty fish.

There is always such a sense of loss whenever I see or think about the Empurau.


Ann said...

There is this English actor, forgot his name, he goes round the world and amking fishing documentaries. You watch?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Is it David Attenborough? or someone else?

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