Asam Pedas Ikan Pari Johor – Sour and Spicy Stingray
We cook asam fish all the time at home. In fact, whenever the belimbing trees are laden with fruits, those few days are asam fish days. For us at home, Ikan Gerang Asam is the default way of cooking asam fish. But of course there are geographical variations to how asam fish is cooked. Ikan Gerang Asam, the Melakan peranakan of preparation depends heavily on the use of daun limau purut (kaffir lime leaves) amidst other fresh ingredients like lengkwas (galangal ginger) to work up the aromatics! And that most certainly helped to work up an appetite! When I was preparing Laksa Belut Perlis, the famous eel laksa from the most northern Malaysian state in the Peninsula, all the rempah (blended ingredients) were basically boiled together with the broth base without any sautéing. But yet, it was still very delicious. And this month’s MFF brings me down all the way to the far south, to the bordering state of Johor for Ikan Pari Asam Pedas.
With the Straits of Malacca and Andaman Sea which leads into the Indian Ocean on the left, as well as the South China Sea bordering the Pacific on the right, Malaysia is never short of produce from the vast oceans. In fact, none of the states are landlocked, so seafood is always in abundance and with that comes a myriad of ways of preparing it. Asam Pedas is one of the most popular way of cooking fish, as tang and heat marry the delicate and sweet flavours of white meat so well. The highlight of the Johorean version is the incorporation of bunga kantan (torch ginger flower) and daun kesum (vietnamese mint) were used which I suspect to be common within the Riau region which includes the Johor sultanate, Singapore and the Riau Islands as well as parts of northeastern Sumatra.
Asam Pedas Ikan Pari – Sour and Spicy Stingray (serves 6-8)
1 kg ikan pari (sting ray). Cut to chunks. Can be replaced with other meaty fish like large mackerel varieties, e.g. ikan batang, ikan tenggiri
2 bunga kantan (torch ginger bud), halved
5-8 branches of daun kesum (Vietnamese mint), looped into a knot.
4 serai (lemongrass), lower white portion only, halved and slightly crushed
15 young okra (lady’s finger), stem trimmed
2 large tomatoes, quartered
100g asam jawa (tamarind pulp), rubbed with 2 bowls of water. Strained to retain juice and set aside. Can be replaced with 5-8 slices of asam gelugor/asam keping
6 tbsp oil
sugar and salt to taste
Garnish (optional) – finely sliced bunga kantan and daun kesum
20 dried chillies, seeds removed and soaked to soften
1 large bawang besar (red onion),skin removed and julienned (or 2 medium sized onions)
4 cloves garlic, skin removed and sliced
thumb knob of halia (ginger), chopped
thumbknob of kunyit (turmeric root), skin scrapped off and chopped
thumbknob of belachan (shrimp paste), toasted and crushed into powder
1. Heat wok and add oil. Saute rempah paste over medium heat until oil begins to separate.
2. Add serai and bunga kantan halves and strained asam jawa water. Bring to a boil.
3. Add daun kesum, followed by stingray chunks. Add salt and sugar and top up with more water until it covers at least 3/4 of the fish. Bring it back to a boil. Let it simmer at medium low heat for about 2-3 min. Sting ray is cooked when it can be flaked easily. Adjust taste with more salt or sugar if necessary.
4. Add okra and let it cook for 1 min. Add tomatoes, give it a light toss and turn off the heat.
5. Dish up, garnish with slices of bunga kantan and daun kesum. Serve with rice.
I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest, Johor Month hosted by Annie of Annielicious Food