Hello everyone! A new month means we’ve ventured onwards to our next Southeast Asian destination, and tonight we’re kicking off our journey through Malaysia! Having lived in Brunei for 26 years of my life, and Bruneian food being so heavily influenced by the cuisine of its neighbouring country, Malaysia, it’s no wonder that it’s a cuisine that’s very close to my heart and that I love so much on top of everything else that I seem to love when it comes to food *cheeky grin*
Assam Pedas Ikan, or literally translated as Sour Spicy Fish in English, is a classic Malaysian dish that’s undoubtedly sour, fiery hot, and super satisfying! Special ingredients such as tamarind peel, ginger torch flower, and Vietnamese coriander (laksa leaves) are key in achieving the flavour profile and aroma of Assam Pedas. However, while these ingredients may be difficult to source in certain countries, the sourness is the important component; and you can use tamarind pulp or paste for this. I guess that it’s also safe to say why everyone has their own take on this favourite Malaysian dish; the adaptations are endless! Ultimately, a good balance of sourness, saltiness, sweetness, and spiciness is all you need to make a good Assam Pedas dish.
Tonight, I’ll be sharing the way I remember how my Mom used to make it when we were still living in Brunei. It’s been a while since I’ve had this dish and I was actually surprised by how quick and easy it is to make, as well as how readily available all the ingredients are, for the version that I will be making of course. Instead of using water for my version, I used my own homemade fish broth from fish scraps to give the Assam Pedas more depth in flavour. Traditionally, locals would use ikan tenggiri (Spanish mackerel), or ikan pari (stingray), but my Mom and I prefer to use pomfret fish (pampano in Tagalog) for its delicate white flesh, subtle non-fishy and sweet taste, as well for its firm texture.
PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 4
For the spice paste
- 8-10 pcs dried red chillies, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), roughly chopped
- 1/2 tbsp sambal belacan paste
For the assam pedas ikan
- 2 large pomfret fish
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- Spice Paste
- 1 tsp fish curry powder
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste
- 2 cups fish broth
- 2 tomatoes, quartered
- 1 small red onion, quartered
- 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
- Spring onion, white part
- 10 pcs okra
- Salt, to taste
- Spring onion (green part), to garnish
- Spice Paste: Using a mortar and pestle, pound all the ingredients for the spice paste together, or you may also use a food processor to do so. Set aside.
- Assam Pedas Ikan: Heat cooking oil to a large pot over medium-high. Add the spice paste and fry for about 2 minutes or until fragrant before adding the curry powder, coconut sugar, and tamarind paste. Fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the fish broth, followed by the tomatoes, red onion, ginger slices, and white parts of the spring onion, and leave to simmer for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened.
- Add the pomfret fish and cook for 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Add the okra and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the okra is tender.
- Serve immediately while hot and enjoy with freshly steamed white rice!
Assam Pedas Ikan is best served with plain steamed white rice. You may also serve it with noodles, kind of like a laksa, if you’re using boneless fish. Rice noodles would be the go-to choice as they take on the flavour of the Assam Pedas best.
– Ally xx