February 5, 2016
Sarawakian Local Delights No.13 : Ikan Empurau
The most expensive fish now in Malaysia is Ikan Empurau (The Chinese uses 3 words for its Name : Wan buliau or Cannot forget or another 3 words for Yuen bulau - never grow old).
Occasionally in the upriver regions of Sarawak, especially in the Rajang valley the longhouse folks might be blessed with a good harvest of empurau as shown in the photo.
Empurau is best steamed, Chinese style.
The sizes of the empurau are significant in the pricing system in the local market. Below 1 kg Empurau does not fetch a good price, may be around 30 ringgit per kg. Between 1 and 2 kg, the price goes a bit higher to 80 to 100 per kg. Anything above 3 kg would be 800 per kg. or even more. Some records have been broken in recent years.
The colour of the Empurau is also important. The golden ones are superior to the black ones. The white ones are mid range. And again the discerning Ibans would also judge the sweetness of the empuraru by the region it comes from.
But a good meal with boiled or steamed empurau caught by a lucky longhouse man is a blessing from God.