Recipe – Sarawak Empurau Fish

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The team at Four Points by Sheraton Kuching had pulled out all the stops to make our stay as comfortable as possible. As an example, although we arrived a couple of hours late due to flight delays, the entire marketing team along with Chef Liou were waiting to greet us as we pulled up at the entrance.

This hospitality was displayed throughout our stay – Robb was convinced it was because half the staff there recognised him from his lead role in Ghost Hunters International; I, of course, begged to differ.

Photo-op with Chef Liou and his team at Four Points by Sheraton, Kuching

Photo-op with Chef Liou and his team at Four Points by Sheraton, Kuching

I had never heard of the Empurau fish (Tor Tambroides) – a highly sought-after delicacy that cost RM1500 (AUD$500) per kg;  a whole fish could easily set you back five figures. I hear it was the Taiwanese who put the empurau fish on the map when they called it Wang Pu Liao, which means Unforgettable. The Sarawakians call it the King of Fish and its popularity means that wealthy Chinese tourists would fly into Sarawak just to savour it.

Due to overfishing, development and consumer demand, the numbers of wild Empurau (aka Ikan Kelah or Mahseer Malaysia) have dwindled and to help restore its numbers, several rivers have been designated as fish sanctuaries. Empurau fish farms are now looking to fill the gap in the market.

Chef Liou showcased his method of preparing Empurau, which is to steam it and serve it with a curry & tom yam sauce. When I first mentioned this on social media months back, some Chinese commenters, who like subtle flavours with their seafood, thought it was counter-intuitive to serve such a delicate, high-value item with a curry sauce.

Having tried Chef Liou’s creation, I have to say it does actually work very well together. Clearly, Empurau fish isn’t something I expect to come across at Sydney Fish Market, but I do plan on trying this with the Australian barramundi some time.

 Steamed Empurau with Curry Sauce

Click here to watch on YouTube >>

300g fish cutlets

Ingredients for Curry Sauce –

3 Tbsp Tom Yum Paste

2 Tbsp Curry Powder

1.5 cups Coconut Milk

4 Ladies’ fingers

½ cup Eggplant, sliced

¼ cup Snake Beans, sliced

Method –

Steam fish for 15 minutes.

Remove scales.

Serve with curry sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Four Points by Sheraton, Kuching.

We were told it's a tradition to kiss the fish. I didn't want to be rude.

We were told it’s a tradition to kiss the fish. I didn’t want to be rude.



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