Perut Ikan Recipe (Nyonya Pickled Fish Stomach Curry)
March 13th, 2007 57 Comments

Perut Ikan Recipe (Nyonya Pickled Fish Stomach Curry)

Perut Ikan / Nyonya Fermented Fish Stomach Curry

Perut ikan—literally means fish stomach—is a signature Nyonya specialty that I love very much. The thought of it often sets my stomach rumbling and mouth watering. As unappetizing as it sounds and perhaps a tad weird to many, Perut ikan is a curry-like dish of various vegetables, aromatic herbs, and fermented fish stomach in the bath of rich, savory, sweet, sour, and spicy goodness. My pictures do no justice to this wonderful dish…

During my recent trip home to Penang, I learned the preparation of perut ikan and other Nyonya delicacies from my aunt. (My aunt’s perut ikan is the best; you just can’t get the same quality at Nyonya restaurants.) For once, I was the chef in her kitchen, cooking up a storm while she patiently narrated the step-by-step of making Nyonya dishes.

Perut Ikan / Nyonya Fermented Fish Stomach Curry - Saute the spice paste and add in pineapples, green beans, and eggplants

Tumis (sauté) your spice paste until fragrant and add in the fermented fish stomach. This is a very important step as it rids the fishy smell from the fish stomach…that’s why coriander seeds are a must in the spice paste, without them, it’s not perut ikan…”

“Ok ok…”

“Now, add in some water and bring it to boil before you toss in the pineapples, green beans, and eggplants…”

“What about these daun kaduk (leaves) and aromatic leaves, can I add them in now?”

Perut Ikan / Nyonya Fermented Fish Stomach Curry - Add in coconut milk and all the aromatic leaves

“No. You have to wait. You need to imbue the curry with the sourness of the pineapples first. Add those aromatic leaves towards the end or they will turn too mushy. It’s about balancing the taste and the texture of the ingredients…and don’t forget the santan (coconut milk).”

I was enlightened and nodded my head in agreement.

And so I listened carefully. I memorized. I learned.

Nyonya cooking is not to be taken lightly; a misstep in the cooking process or mishandling of the ingredients will render the dish unsuccessful.

No longer was I the child standing beside my aunt who watched curiously as she was cooking her dishes. Over the years, my aunt has aged physically but her skills in making Nyonya food has only gotten better. And now, I must be taught and become skilled at all these nostalgic foods of my childhood

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

Nyonya food is the food of Peranakan people of Malaysia and Singapore. It uses mainly Chinese ingredients but blends them with Southeast Asian spices such as coconut milk, lemon grass, turmeric, screwpine leaves, chillies and sambal. It can be considered as a blend of Chinese and Malay cooking.

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57 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Low C T says:

    I remember helping my mom cook this 40 years ago. Your recipe is almost the same as my mom’s just that she would put the fish intestines,stomach,etc in a bottle and let it ferment for a few months before using it for the perut ikan

  2. Keith Ooh says:

    Growing up in Penang, I used to enjoy my late maternal grandmother’s perut ikan, except she would cook it in the “masak pedas” style… Wished I had learnt the recipe from her before she passed away :(

  3. luanlee says:

    I like lemak sui and l use ikan tengiri jeruk if I am not in Malaysia . everyone has a slightly different ingredients that’s unique to their own

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