Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spicy Malaysian Fish

Asam Pedas- Finger Licking Good

Eating out in Kuala Lumpur is a thrilling experience.  You never know what you’re going to find.  There are so many varieties of cuisine that one is spoilt for choice.  A few years ago a friend invited us to a small eatery off the highway.    Unimpressive, simple and practically bare,  the food we had there was simply divine.  The fish caught my fancy and after that we had it whenever we had the opportunity.  Learnt how to cook it  and don’t’ be surprised when you actually lick your fingers in the end. 
Asam Pedas is a typical Malaysian Dish.  Asam means sour and Pedas means spicy, so the dish is a classic hot and sour delight.  This is one of the most satisfying dishes I have had. 

The Recipe
1 whole pomfret clean, wash & drain; 6 small ladies finger cut diagonally into two each; 1 tomato , quartered; 1 tsp fish curry powder or more to taste; 2 sprigs of daun kesum (Vietnamese mint/Vietnamese coriander); 2 tbsp cooking oil; 1 tbsp brown sugar; salt to taste.
1 clove garlic; 1 stalk of lemon grass (white part only); 5 sambar onions;1 tsp chilly powder more or less to taste; 1/2 tbsp belacan (prawn paste).
Tamarind Pulp
Mix 3 tbsp tamarind pulp in  1 ½  cup of water.  Keep for 10 minutes and strain for use.

For Fish Curry Powder

Blend the following together
200 gm  coriander seeds
75 gm  aniseed (somph)
75 gm  cumin (jeera )
50 gm - black and white pepper corns
75 gm - chilli powder
35 gm turmeric powder

Blend Separately: 1  cinnamon stick, about 5 cm long; 5gm cardamoms, with pod;3 cloves; 3 star anise;
20gm fenugreek (methi seeds).

Mix both powders together and store in airtight container.

Blend the masala  and keep  aside.  Heat oil and fry the masala until fragrant (a few minutes).  Add the strained  tamarind, fish curry powder and bring to boil.  Next add the quartered tomato and ladies fingers and bring to boil.
Add the fish, salt, and brown sugar.  Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
Serve hot with white rice. 

NB:  Vietnamese Mint is also known as   Vietnamese Coriander.  It has a strong minty peppery flavour and is sold in small bunches with pointed leaves on the stem.   Substitute  with  Mint (Pudina) or equal parts of Mint & Coriander.

Belacan is nothing but shrimp paste.  Substitute with Anchovy fillets if desired.

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