Pushing empurau to save sharks


Big and tasty: A buyer showing off an empurau, said to be the most expensive freshwater fish in Malaysia.

KOTA KINABALU: Empurau, said to be the most expensive fresh–water fish in the country, may be the answer to the dwindling shark population if people take to its flavour as a replacement for shark’s fin soup.

Spearheading this initiative is The Crab House Seafood Restaurant at Suria Sabah.

The owner, Leonard Teh, said it is working with the Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) and empurau breeder Go Seafood Sdn Bhd on this project.

“We still get orders for shark’s fin soup but we let our customers know that there are alternatives, such as empurau or lobster, which can help with shark conservation efforts,” he said.

Teh said empurau, which can cost more than RM1,000 a kilo, is delicious and can be cooked in various ways, compared to shark’s fin which can only be made into soup.

The fish is prized for its rich, delicate flesh and firm texture, he said, adding that empurau gets its unique taste from a diet of special fruit that falls from trees into the rivers.

He said farmed empurau tastes better after being fed the fruit and bred at the right water temperature.

Empurau can be served raw as sashimi or steamed with sliced ginger.

He said its bones and skin can be made into soup while its scales can be fried and eaten – “every inch of the fish is edible”.

Teh said restaurants are prepared to remove shark’s fin soup from the menu if customers are willing to stop ordering it.

SSPA president Aderick Chong said it will hold an exhibition at Imago Shopping Mall from 11am to 6pm today to raise awareness on the need to wean ourselves off shark’s fin soup.

He said it is important for the public to know about the issues threatening the shark population and to do something about it.

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