STINGRAY cooked in a piquant and perky spice paste – Asam Pedas is a classic Malay and Minangkabau dish enjoyed by many in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. The spicy, sour sauce punctuated with aromatics promises to awaken your palate and stimulate your appetite!
Total Time: 1½ hours
Serves: 2-3 persons
A: Rempah (Spice Paste)
5 red fresh chilli, seeded and cut into pieces
10 chilli padi*
100g dried chilli, seeded, soaked and cut into pieces
Thumb-size galangal (lengkuas), peeled and sliced
Thumb-size turmeric (kunyit), peeled and sliced
5 lemongrass (serai), white portion only, sliced
6 candlenuts, crushed in a pestle and mortar
200g shallots, peeled and sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1½ teaspoon shrimp paste (belacan)
4 tablespoons oil
B: Fish, Vegetables
500g stingray or any meaty fish (threadfin, black pomfret)
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp mixed with 2 tablespoons water
300g brinjal, cut into pieces
10 ladies fingers, tops removed
2 tomatoes, each cut into quarters
C: Tamarind Extract
100g tamarind pulp (asam jawa)
800ml-900ml warm water
D: Aromatics and Seasoning
2 stalks laksa leaves (daun kesom)
2 kaffir lime leaves (daun limau parut)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1. To season fish: rub with salt and set it aside for 10 minutes. Rinse it off with tap water. Set it aside.
2. To make rempah: assemble A ingredients except belacan.
Put them into a food processor and pulse until it reaches a fairly fine paste. *For a less spicy paste, reduce chilli padi.
Set aside 250g for this dish. Store remaining paste in a jar in the fridge.
3. To prepare tamarind extract: Rub tamarind into water until it turns brown. Using a strainer, sieve the liquid, discarding the solids.
4. Heat up oil in a medium pot over medium fire. Add rempah and cook until fragrant – the oil will begin to separate from the spice paste; this will take approximately 10 minutes.
5. Pour in tamarind extract. Let it come to a boil. Put in both aromatic leaves: laksa (left) and kaffir lime (right).
Reduce to medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes to allow the soup to be infused with the aroma of fresh herbs.
6. Add in vegetables, starting with brinjal, followed by ladies fingers and then tomato. Cook for 5 minutes.
7. Put in fish; cook for 10-15 minutes. Turn heat off immediately; allow residual heat to cook fish completely. Using a fork, flake the meat to check it is done = there should be no traces of blood.
8. Serve with steamed rice.
BUYING TIP: Stingray may reek of ammonia; to get rid of it, rub fish with 1 tablespoon of tamarind pulp mixed with water. Leave it for 20 minutes. Then rinse with running tap water.
TECHNIQUE: If using pestle and mortar, start pounding the harder ingredients first, e.g. galangal, lemongrass, candlenuts and turmeric, followed by the rest of the ingredients.
Photos: Evonne Lyn Lee
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