Eating fish and seafood is an expensive hobby. But one can still get a good bargain in Sarawak and especially in Sibu where eating fish will not cost you a bomb.
My advice is that you need to become friendly with a friendly restaurant. Patronise that restaurant and make friends with all the cooks there. Be nice to the captain especially.
To be cheated of a good fish dish puts a bitter taste in your mouth forever. Nobody likes to be cheated any way.
It is also good to know the different styles of cooking fish. So when in Sibu, ask for the suitable type of cooking the fish you have chosen. Eating out sometimes calls for some research before hand too. Also in this way, you will not have to dig too deep into your pocket. Prices can be exorbitant. Empurau for example is now more than 300 ringgit per kilo. Frighten me to death really. I am afraid I like my green papaya with ikan pusu better. Ooooops.
The following are some of the popular ways of cooking fish in Sarawak.
In Chinese restaurant, fresh fish is normally steamed and you need to ask the captain about the freshness of the fish. Otherwise, you must request for deep fried fish.
These are the different types of steaming :
Cantonese SteamedSteamed with soy sauce.
Teochew SteamedSteamed with tomato, plum and salted vegetable.
Steamed with GingerSteamed with chopped ginger. Popular for freshwater fish eg Grass Carp and Tilapia.
Steamed with Sauce. Steamed with chopped fermented bean and chilli sauce. Popular for Tilapia fish.
Tomyam SteamedSteamed with tomyam sauce, a la hot and spicy.
Nyonya SteamedSteamed with mild curry.
Sichuan SteamedSteamed with chopped dried chilli.
Different kinds of fried fish
Pan Fried. Only available at home or western restaurant as it takes too long for Chinese restaurant.
Fried with bean sauceOnly available in teochew fishing village style restaurant.
Fried with Belacan (shrimps paste)Only available in limited number of restaurants e.g. Tai Tong and Golden Pheonix at Hotel Equatorial.
Fried with Ginger and Spring OnionA popular way to cook Aroan fish.
Other types of cooking
CurryCooked in coconut based curry.
BakedIn either tin foil or banana leaf.
Sweet and SourOnly popular for mass cooking of fish (e.g. for banquet).
Braisedeg braised kong puo style (onion and dried chilli), normally for fish that has muddy taste e.g. walking catfish.
Cook in bamboo or what the Sarawakians call Pansur.
Extra Notes : Freshwater Fish
Up until late 1980's, with the exception of Goby and Sultan fish, fresh water fish was not fit for restaurant. Due to shortage and rised in price of sea water fish, fresh water fish is gaining acceptability in restaurant.Most freshwater fish served in restaurants are live and aquacultured namely tilapia, catfish, Goby, bighead carp (for fishhead) and glass carp. River fish tend to have muddy taste but meat is firmer, and cost more. Live fresh water fish in restaurant cost about 2 to 3 times more than fresh/frozen fish.