Precious and few…

Kapit is a town in the upper reaches of the Rejang River, accessible by express boat from Sibu. One thing that it is famous for is its freshwater fish. If I am not mistaken, there are three main types that are most exclusive – the empurau which can go up to over RM200 a kilo, the semah slightly cheaper at around RM120-150 a kilo and the tangadak which falls below RM100 a kilo.

These are not easily available as they are often booked by the restaurants in the main towns and I hear that they even export them to countries like Singapore. But I was fortunate the other day as Yan went on a business trip to Kapit and came home with some fish and the kind and generous lady gave me some slices of tapah – another freshwater fish that is not cheap either though it does not belong to the same class as the other three (If you’re wondering what it looks like, you can click this link to have a look at it in one of the photos) and one semah

Kapit fish - semah 1

This one is not very big but there are really huge ones! People were saying that if they could just catch one big one, they could relax for the rest of the month after selling it! That comes as no surprise considering the exorbitant market price for the fish.

Kapit fish - semah 2

There is just one way to cook the fish which is to have it steamed…

Steamed ikan semah 1

There is no need to add a lot of ingredients – maybe just a couple of slices of ginger and some garlic. I added a few chillies, a dash of oyster sauce and garnished it with some Chinese celery. The minimal amount of added ingredients is to ensure that one can savour the original sweetness and freshness of the fish.

Steamed ikan semah 2

I think I steamed it for too long or to be exact, I kept it in the wok for too long while waiting for my missus to come home from work…but still she said that it was really very nice – absolutely delicious! It most certainly was!!!

That, for sure, is more than what I can say about these lobsters that I got from my brother-in-law…

Lobster 1

These are very rare here and difficult to come by. My brother-in-law buys them from Bintulu; I have never asked him how much they are but I bet they cost a bomb! For one thing, the shell is extremely hard, so before cooking, I had to use the kitchen scissors to cut the lobsters into halves.

I usedΒ my creamy and cheesy recipe that I created when I cooked some New Zealand mussels last year…

Lobster 2

…but to say that I did not think they were great would be an understatement. Frankly, I would much sooner go for our very own udang galah (freshwater prawns) anytime and they are very very much cheaper, I’m sure…

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

37 thoughts on “Precious and few…”

  1. i used to makan this type of fish when were still in ulu bintulu, tubau. it’s a lot in the ulu part that time and they’re selling it very expensive as well. i like the tender white meat of the semah .. yummy!

    Drool! Drool!…So hard to get, but thanks to Yan, I managed to get to eat one! Yummy yummy…

  2. cibol, where Where WHERE?
    must be nice, fresh and most important cheap one ar…

    If want nice and fresh…where got cheap??? Oops…!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!

  3. Ai pi, ai chee, ai tua kee…Ooooppsss!!! ROTFLMAO!!! πŸ˜› But people nowadays already aware of the fish price (even the ulu place) so cannot pi liao. Hehehe!

    Well, good thing no cheap, cheap thing no good πŸ˜€

    I thought it’s “tua liap nee”? LOL!!! Can’t get those kinds of fish on the other side mah! And luxury items some more! Not everybody can get to eat! *nose in air!!! Hahahahahaha!!!

  4. wah… reminds me of all the local freshwater fish! my favourite is ikan sultan, ikan keli, tilapia and black promphet. the only fish i can get here at caf is stupid salmon. -,- so boring…

    Black pomfret’s a sea fish lah! Nice for ikan bakar in Penang! Drool!!! I don’t really like salmon – dunno what the craze is about…and it’s expensive here!!!

  5. I like Semah! This fish have to steam with its scales on. I eat some of the scales also sometimes. So nice. Good source of calcium. πŸ™‚ It is so kind for yan to give you this fish…hard to get it nowadays even in Kapit. The price is scary.

    Yes, I steamed it with scales…but that’s what I said – maybe I kept it in the wok for too long, the scales all stood up, some curled up and some dropped off! LOL!!! 1st time cooking expensive fish mah… Worth its weight in gold! Hahahahaha!!!

  6. I am drooling at the lobsters!!! Yummy. I can’t differentiate fishes. I only know maybe 2 or 3 types.

    I’ve got three more in the freezer, not that keen to cook them just yet as I didn’t think they were that great!…I’m very much into fish. Healthy mah! Omega 3! Hahahahahaha!!!

  7. Drool drool drool at the lobster! How about grill or bake the lobster? Or it would be nicer for our udang galah to be grilled or baked?

    I’ve heard of the names of the fish before but cannot recognize them. Maybe I’ve eaten them without realizing because sometimes my uncle would bring some back when he’s outstation to Kapit.

    PS: I have that plate too! Free gift from Borneo Post I think πŸ˜€

    I fried garlic in melted butter, added evaporated milk and fish stock granules…poured over the lobsters and added cheese…then put in the oven to bake! The gravy tasted nice, but the lobsters were not that appealing!

    I’ve had that plate for years and years now, dunno where my missus got it from – an apple pie dish with the recipe on it some more. Oven safe…and I use it a lot!

  8. Oh yeah…I heard of those fishes name before … omg .. it looks so tasty and you are making me hungry now .. πŸ˜€

    Ah…I thought ur name sounds familiar! Sophia and Emi’s brother! Welcome! U’re staying in the states too? Will link you in my blogroll. Do drop by often!

    Ya…everybody from around here would know these fish – a major attraction in Chinese banquets at restaurants like Blue Splendour. In the past, if we got white pomfret (pek chio), we would frown…not Kapit fish, no class at all! LOL!!!

  9. Aiyo, the other semah is still in my fridge! But, I am cooking curry fish head today, not sure is the head of patin or tapah. With fish, I am blur..blur.. He..he..

    You’ve got another one? *eyes blinking trying to look cute! Hahahahaha!!! Yours must be the patin as you gave me the tapah head. I thought of cooking curry but since it was so fresh and sweet, I didn’t want to drown the flavour with the curry gravy. So I steamed it instead. Was really…really…nice!

  10. Ohh yumms… haven’t had that fish in a while.. a visit to Kapit should be in order.

    Always loved Gawai after the big shots has left and we can attack the leftovers of the empurau and tengadak that was served during their lunch at A.J’s house.. hahahaha.. beggars can’t be choosers and those big honcho’s couldn’t exactly finish all the fish hahaha.. lucky they never asked to “tapau” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    As for Prawns, or rather Undang Galah, have you tried grilling it? There’s this crazy recipe my friend and I tried…. prepare a special butter of butter and a juice of the famous Bintangor (or Binatang for those who insist on calling it by its old name) oranges and peel of the same said orange.. and allow to harden.. I mean solidify (one has to be careful what one writes here as it might be construed to mean something else.. hahah)

    rub the special butter liberally on the the exposed flesh of said prawn and placed under grill or oven…. allow to grill or bake for 15 minutes.. heaven.

    You think you can get the fish that easily?…Maybe you’ve the right connections, so that’s a different story. I do grill or bake seafood quite often – terubok is nicer that way compared to frying or steaming! Hmmm…I’m wondering whether you’re talking about seafood or what! LOL!!!

  11. TOC: LOL at the last paragraph!!! ROTFLMAO!!! *remind self that you are talking about the seafood prawn*

    PS: Prawn also refers to chicks with hot bod but fugly face πŸ˜›

    Yalor…his choice of vocabulary and expressions – so suggestive like he was writing some porn story! Hahahahaha!!!! Yakah…didn’t know that about “prawn”. Thought they call them “cows”? LOL!!!

  12. You don’t slice your ginger to tiny tiny pieces? I like it to be in tiny pieces. My hubby likes the type you prepared because he hates ginger.

    No, my missus does that. She cuts them into thin strips and chop the garlic into fine bits and sprinkle all over the fish. I hate getting the ginger or garlic in the mouth, so I use slices…and remove them all before eating.

  13. i bet you have an appointment with the missus to have the cholesterol checked today

    No leh? Fish good cholesterol! Omega 3! EPA!…Or are you talking about the lobsters? Hahahahahaha!!!

  14. oooo….lobsters!!! its been ages since i had one.

    Like I told eiling…I’ve got three more in the freezer – bigger ones!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!!

  15. The fish names all sound alien to me! But judging from their prices, they must be one helluva fish! I love steamed fish – plain simple goodness & best of all, not fattening, LOL! Hey, u always talking abt food here… feel free to visit my FOOD blog too, ya.. at:

    Of course, you haven’t heard of these fish! Can get them here only…in the upper reaches of the Rejang River like at Kapit, Song, Belaga… Sigh! The readers seem to be interested only in food. If I post on other things, I don’t get many comments! Besides, what else do people my age do?…Eat…while I still can! LOL!!!

  16. Clare: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA rotflmfsao HAHAHAHAHA wellllllll…. welllllll… let the imagination run wild…. its a friday

    And in case you’ve forgotten, it’s Lent! That’s why I’m posting on fish and lobsters! Last week, I got blasted for my ang chao pork belly, remember? Hahahahahaha!!!

  17. Cows are fat chicks, look doesn’t matter anymore πŸ˜› Hahaha!

    I guess I’m a bull then…!!! Wink! Wink! Hahahahahahaha!!!

  18. lol.. yes.. I remembered about you being blasted last week.. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

    and you were wondering what’s my talent yesterday? hahahahahaha..

    Talent? What talent? Hahahahaha!!!

  19. my goodness.where do all those “dreadful” food come from???? i dont care, i dont care.. (*sitting down legs kicking) i wan those! i wan those!!
    take me to kapit or whatever pit in sibu!

    Come…come! As they say, “everyone can fly”…and you’ll find that Kapit is another town in another division (which is made up of several districts, no division over ur side – just districts and that will give you an idea how big Sarawak is). Gee! Didn’t they teach you people over there about Sarawak in Geography? Same country mah!

  20. didn’t know cooking fish is that simple till I read it in your blog

    Aiyor!!! *shaking head! Girls nowadays!…Cleaning the fish is the “hardest” part…but these days, can get the fishmonger to do that!

  21. So much seafood already…so I can save save save money liaw

    Nobody’s complaining!!! Fish is healthy…and I’m on a seefood diet – I see food, I eat! Hahahahaha!!!

  22. OMG! *palanting from the chair* Kapit is in Sibu? And what other pit in Sibu? WTF! Sia suay my patron saint nia. πŸ˜›

    Ummm…pipit got!!! A lot! Induk sempit, also got!!! LOL!!! Well, you should know, you studied there! So many dunno head or tail about Sabah and Sarawak…and we had to study in such detail about West Malaysia in Geography. Some things I know about the other states there, they do not even know themselves! But then I used to teach Geography – that’s why so smart! Hahahahahaha!!!!

  23. Ahlost, better don’t make such comment to sia soi kaum perempuan lah! Aiyor!

    Fish is the easiest to cook! GIRLS! Hmph! LOL! πŸ˜› Actually cooking is easy. Well, you just have to get creative πŸ™‚ And girls are afraid of being creative in the cooking department. Well, that explains why most top chefs in the world are males πŸ˜€

    I never planned my dish, just use whatever that can be found in the fridge nia. Eh, my pan fried fish fillet with melted cheese very nice ler, I simply hantam only but my mom loved it.

    Yalor…once you have the feel of it, anything goes! I never follow recipes (Dunno how! Sure disaster!) but once you know the combinations, what goes well with what, the rest is up to your creativity and imagination. (Of course, at times…not so nice so keep quiet, don’t want to post lor! LOL!!!)…But I think it depends on the home background too! My daughter also didn’t know how to cook (but slowly learning bit by bit)…and I think that was because of an over-protective mum who would do everything for her “in case she burned herself”…and a show-off dad who could not resist displaying his culinary skills! Hahahahahaha!!!!

  24. Speaking of “Everyone Can Fly” tagline, guess what I saw last week? A new salon (some ‘smart’ people trying to correct me that its called SALOON! HMPH!!!) behind the newly-opened Starbucks which I have forgotten the name has this tagline that says: “Everyone Can Wash” using same red and font as the budget airlines wan. WTF!!! πŸ˜€

    Not me! It IS salon!…Hmmm…that makes me think of going to the toilet!!!…Pretty soon, an eating outlet will put out a sign: “Everyone can fry!” Hahahahaha!!!!

  25. Oh there’s one FRYDAY in town, near Big Potato (kopitiam) and I heard the food is yucky so never bothered to go.

    PSST! TOC also joined the party at my blog liao. Hahahahahahahhaha!!!

    My goodness! Big Potato! What a name! They certainly do not mince their words. I wouldn’t wanna eat there!…Oh! Is that so? My condolence to you then! Spam! Spam! Spam! (No wonder the resemblance to the edible kind!!! LOL!!!)

  26. HAHAHAHHA!!! But char zhu there quite nice wor. I like the Teh C Peng Special at Big Potato. Never mind the name…

    FRYDAY definitely not worth it πŸ˜›

    Hmmm…so many places to go and eat, so little time! I will have to be very selective! LOL!!!

  27. Nah! Just being a stalker hahahaha

    What do you call this, clare?…A spam?…..More! More! As long as I can get more comments! Hahahahahaha!!!!

  28. you ALMOST convince me that i should brave my allergy and start eating prawns……. haha

    You should try those leaves that I take every day. They cure allergies, it seems!!! And they’re good for all kinds of things as well.

  29. U save some for Pollie or not? She is in Sibu now!LOL!Maybe she can ‘tapau’ the freezing lobsters waiting to be cooked. hehehehe….

    She hasn’t contacted me but she did say she would be busy…and would only get to see me in Kuching. Aiyor…the lobsters came all the way from Bintulu and now you’re asking her to take them all the way back…??? Hahahahahaha!!!!

  30. I love eating all those freshwater fish back when we were living in Kapit. I grew up in Kapit but *sob*sob* had to move back here to Bintangor…
    I (extra) love kasam ikan semah..yummy.must pesan my aunty to buy for me… If there’s kasam ikan semah, i’ll not give another look to kasam pumba..muahahahah
    p/s: might be going to Sibu tomorrow (Sunday definitely going to Sibu), will u b free? hehe

    Nice kah! My lawyer ex-student that day got some from Kapit and asked me if I wanted some but I didn’t. Never tried…dunno how to eat kasam… You can sms me tomorrow and see where I’ll be. Kpenyu in town so dunno what we’ll be up too!

  31. Wow, really fresh freshwater fish indeed. I heard about Kapit but never knew they had such stuff there. I think I’ll be a fisherman now lah. πŸ˜†

    Ya…big money, if you can catch any!!! LOL!!!

  32. Nice! Got kasam pumba I eat one plate rice, got kasam semah then sure many2 plates lah..muahahaha…um, i’m not an expert when it comes to cooking kasam ikan. Usually my Mum or grandma yang masak (they know how to cook it just the way i like it)… Kasam semah is nicer than other types of kasam because the flesh won’t be too ‘hancur’ compared to other fish. Hehehe. Kasam semah + hot rice…sedap o
    hehe…today not going to Sibu since I’m going tomorrow for my major repairs..haha

    I haven’t acquired the taste for kasam poomba…and I’ve never tried kasam semah. I love “lusip” though – the ones in bottles. Ok…hope we can get to meet then!

  33. I love ‘lusit’ also… sedap with hot rice…
    i think it’s an acquired taste. There are some types of kasam ikan that I don’t really enjoy…

    Ya…like century eggs! Didn’t use to like them…but now, I love them so much! Hahahahaha!!!

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