Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ikan Asam Pedas

Literally translated, this spicy tamarind fish item is one that features heavily in Malaysian cuisine. Blending of fragrant spices and chillies, an asam pedas recipe often also calls for daun kesum (also called Vietnamese mint/coriander). My take on this recipe replaces daun kesum with the more readily available mint leaves.

2 medium sea bass, gutted with head left on (optional)
2 tablespoon chilli paste
1 medium onion
4-5 garlic cloves
1 lemon grass
1 teaspoon belacan or shrimp paste
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (2-3 medium ones if using fresh tomatoes)
tamarind water (made with 1 ping pong ball sized tamarind paste diluted in 150 ml water; sieve out the seeds and bits)
1 desertspoon sugar
mint leaves from 3-4 stalks
juice from half a lime
a light dusting of turmeric powder, salt and pepper

Season the fish with salt, pepper and turmeric powder. Shallow fry them until lightly brown on both sides. Leave aside for later.

Blend the chilli, onion, garlic and lemon grass until smooth. Sauté these in 2 tablespoon of oil until cooked (the paste will turn into a dark colour and become lumpy). Add belacan to this frying mixture, shortly followed by chopped tomatoes. Simmer for about five minutes before seasoning further with tamarind water, lime juice, salt, sugar and mint leaves. Keep simmering for another five minutes before placing the fish in the gravy, coating it well. Avoid stirring too much, the fish flesh may break. In 3-4 minutes, the fish is ready to be served.


  1. Hi Vj! How many servings can this make? I love to try this on weekend for our family gathering. Is it possible to add more turmeric powder? Our family love this Indian spice. :)

    1. Hi sweetlady,
      This recipe is for two persons, but with generous amount of gravy. You could double or triple the ingredients to fit your needs. A bit more turmeric powder can't hurt either, but too much of it might result in rather overpowering taste. Hope it turns out well for you :)