Assam Pedas, or literally “sour spicy,” is a classic Malaysian dish. Ask any home cooks in Malaysia–Malay, Chinese, or Indian–and you are bound to get various recipes for Assam Pedas. Everyone has their own interpretation for this favorite dish and there are endless adaptations; suffice it to say, it’s sour, fiery hot, and tastes extraordinarily satisfying…
When I made my sambal for nasi lemak last weekend, I made a point to prepare some extra spice paste for this Assam Pedas dish. While traditional Assam Pedas calls for ikan tenggiri (Spanish mackerel) or ikan pari (stingray), I used pomfret instead. (In the United States, even in California, it’s almost impossible to find fish commonly found in Malaysia.) I love pomfret and it’s a good substitute for Assam Pedas.
Much like nasi lemak, if you haven’t tried Assam Pedas, it’s very hard to describe just how wonderful this is. I hope my pictures and recipe do it justice.
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Assam Pedas Pomfret Recipe
Assam Pedas, or literally “sour spicy,” is a classic Malaysian dish. Everyone has their own interpretation for this favorite dish and there are endless adaptations; suffice it to say, it’s sour, fiery hot, and tastes extraordinarily satisfying.
- 1 pomfret, 1/2 pound to 1 pound
- 10 small okras
- 1 tomato, cut into wedges
- 1 teaspoon of fish curry powder
- 2 sprigs of daun kesum, Vietnamese mint/Vietnames coriander
- 5 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar/sugar
- Salt to taste
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, white part only
- 4 shallots
- 8-10 dried chillies, depends how spicy you like
- 1/2 tablespoon belacan, prawn paste
- 1 1/4 cup water
- Tamarind pulp, size of a small ping pong ball
Pound the spice paste with mortar and pestle or grind them in a food processor. Set aside.
Soak the tamarind pulp in warm water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind pulp constantly to extract the flavor into the water. Drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
Heat oil and fry the spice paste for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
Add the tamarind juice, fish curry powder and bring to boil.
Add the tomato wedges, okras and daun kesom and bring to boil.
Add the fish, salt, and palm sugar/sugar.
Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked.