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Nyonya Perut Ikan (Stewed Fish Stomach with Vegetables)

Perut ikan
Perut ikan pictures (1 of 3)

(Recipe and the photographs are courtesy of Madam Kwong.)

Perut ikan is one of the most requested recipes on Nyonya Food. It’s also one of my favorite Nyonya dish. Even though it’s a Nyonya recipe, I believe it’s mostly found in Penang, and not Melaka and Singapore.

All my family members love a great serving of perut ikan, or Nyonya stewed fish stomach (previously salted and preserved) with various vegetables and exotic herbs, including daun kadok (betel leaf) and bunga kantan (ginger flower). It’s a very tedious dish to make but the taste structure is so deep and complex. Each sip of the gravy reveals an exciting layer of flavor. Perut ikan is utterly delicious!

I remember vividly my childhood days when I watched my late grandmother pickled and preserved fresh fish stomach. In Southeast Asia, many authentic and unique dishes are prepared with the “unused” part of the ingredients, and in this case, it’s fish stomach. The fish stomach, or perut ikan in Malay, are extracted from fresh fish. They are cleaned thoroughly, rubbed with salt before being preserved inside a glass bottle. My late grandmother always paid special attention to the sealing process, enclosing the bottle with a cork tightly to facilitate the fermentation. The fish stomach are then left out in the kitchen at room temperature until the cork is slightly popped out on its own—a clear indication that the fermentation process is complete as it releases the fermentation gas that forces the cork to pop…

A couple of years ago, I was lucky to learn how to make perut ikan from my aunt, but I didn’t do a good job in the exact measurement. My aunt taught me to make a lemak version, with a little coconut milk added.  For the sour perut ikan, I refer to Madam Kwong and am so glad that she has a well-written recipe for us. If you are a fan of perut ikan, please try out this fabulous recipe. I could really use a bowl of savory and pipping hot perut ikan now. Slurp!

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