Asam Pedas Johor Menu for Wednesday


Ahh, asam pedas,  like bibimbap to the Koreans, probably each Johorean family has their own little secret to making this dish special. While I like this dish for its tangy, spicy and herby flavour (thanks to the polyganum a.k.a laksa leaves,) my preference is for the gravy while the fish is left for everyone else.

The thing about Asam Pedas is, while it is good enough to eat on its own with some rice (and for me, a few splashes of Kicap Cap Kipas Udang – a special brand of sweet soy sauce unlike any other, but I digress,) the rest of its accompanying dish has to marry well with it so that the flavors meld together on your plate. For example, due to its strong flavors, the vegetables are usually served raw(ulam) or stirfried plain and normally crunchy veggies are preferred for the texture. Normally too, there would be a secondary protein, preferably fried, eg fried spicy chicken, or at the very least fried salted fish. Once the fried salted fish is on the table, (and the ulam,) this means another important component, the sambal belacan has to be present. So that wraps up a normal menu for a meal with Asam Pedas.

So, in my case, where we are trying to reduce the amount of frying (not to mention of the fact that I ran out of cooking oil today because I forgot about it and had about 5 tbsp worth of canola oil in the pantry, and maybe half a bottle of olive oil…) I had to change the menu up a bit. As a result, this was our menu:

Asam Pedas Siakap (a type of barramundi,)

Cendawan kukur tumis ikan bilis

Raw veggies in this case cucumber and four angled beans

Salted duck eggs and sambal belacan

The recipe for Asam Pedas is as follows:

Finely grind**

2 fresh red chillies**

6 shallots or 1 large red onion**

3 cloves garlic**

2 cm galangal**

2 cm ginger**

3 cm turmeric**

Shrimp paste about the size of a marble**

2 lemon grass, bruised

1 tablespoon of chilli paste (if dried chillies are unavailable, use a heaping tblsp of chilli powder, make into paste with a little water)

A handful of polyganum leaves

A tsp of tamarind paste and half cup of water mixed.

Salt and a little sugar just to balance the flavors – this dish should NOT be sweet

About 500 – 700 gms of any white, firm fleshed fish, preferably on the bone.

10 okras


Clean fish, wash with some lime juice and salt, especially the stomach and run water until the fish smells nice and clean. Cut the fish up according to the size of your cooking pot. You will need to comfortably turn the fish in the pot without annihilating it.

Heat oil, sautee blended ingredients till fragrant, lower heat as far as you can. Add chilli paste. Slowly sautee the paste till its really cooked and oil begins to separate from the spices. Be patient, this could take up to 10 minutes.

Once the paste looks really cooked, add the fish pieces, leave for a minute before flipping it to the other side. Add tamarind juice, stir gently. If too thick add a bit more water. Throw in salt and a little sugar. Add okra and after 2 minutes, add the polyganum leaves. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, taste to check and adjust seasoning. Serve with freshly steamed rice and it’s accompaniments.

About mumstech
Retired at 40 after working in various industries including banking and financial services, oil and gas as well as higher education.Now a stay-at-home mum, cheerleader for husband and son, cleaner, nutritionist, cook, laundry lady, driver, clerk cum administration assistant, public relations, personal assistant... I never knew that squeaky clean floors can give me such satisfaction!

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