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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ikan Gerang Asam, Nyonya Tamarind Fish - MFF Melaka #1

My first submission to Malaysian Food Fest, Melaka Month. Being the organizer, I am commited to submit minimal 3 entries per month. For Melaka, I have prepared 4. Come and join us, it's not only for bloggers. Have some fun recreating something in your own kitchen. Have some "Melaka" at home :)

One of my favourite ways to eat fish is with asam sauce. There are a few types of asam pedas. The method that I normally cook it, is using Johor's method. I only found out it's Johor's method after doing some reading up regarding asam pedas for this event. Northern states like Kedah and Perlis, employs a slightly different method to cook it compared to the southern states.

Gerang asam is a nyonya dish. One can use either mackerel or sting ray, according to Florence Tan. Now, I'm not sure if gerang asam is another type of asam pedas, but it sure is asam (sour) and pedas (spicy). The taste is somewhat rather different, I find. Maybe due to the kaffir lime leaf and the use of galangal for the gravy, something not used in other state's asam pedas. The aroma is just different, in a good way. I don't mind cooking this again and again.

My MIL thought that mackerel usually has a coarse texture and meat is too firm when cooked this way. Maybe because I used low heat to cook the fish for a short period of time, the fish still tasted sweet and tender. Even my sour-hating hubby enjoyed this dish a lot. Thanks to Florence for this recipe.

Ikan Gerang Asam
Original Recipe Source: Florence Tan
As Seen on: Anna’s Cooking Recipes
Ingredients halved and method paraphrased by WendyinKK

450gm mackerel (tenggiri)
38gm tamarind pulp + 380ml water
10 young okra, trimmed
2 pcs kaffir lime leaf (original was 1)
6 Tbsp oil (I used 80ml=4 chinese soup spoon)

Grind to a paste
10 dried chilli (10gm), remove the seeds and soak for 10 mins.
9pcs shallots (100gm)
1 big clove garlic (7gm)
2½ candle nut
¼ inch turmeric root (I used 5gm, cleaned weight)
½ inch galangal (I used 10gm cleaned weight)
2 lemongrass (4 inches from the base)
¾ tsp dried shrimp paste (belacan, I used 5gm)

1/3 tsp salt (depends on amount of gravy)
2 tsp sugar

1. Prepare the spice paste. Rub tamarind pulp in water and strain the water, discard the seeds.
2. Heat wok on medium heat, put in oil and then the spice paste. Fry it for a while and lower the heat to medium low and fry until the spice paste looks glossy (takes a few minutes), and reddish oil seems to ooze out.
3. Put in tamarind water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer for 4 minutes. Taste, add seasonings and adjust if needed.
4. Put in fish and kaffir lime leaf (still on low heat). Simmer for 2-3 minutes . Don’t move the fish unnecessarily.
5. Flip the fish and put in okra, simmer for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and dish up.
 left: raw ingredients, right: prepared and ready to cook

I tried to follow the original recipe as closely as possible, but I think there might be a typing error. The salt and sugar amount was switched between the two. 2.5 tsp of salt is A LOT, considering the presense of salty belacan, while 1/2 tsp sugar seems too little to balance out the tangy gravy. The amount I used was 1/3 tsp salt and 2 tsp sugar. It sure does look switched in the original recipe, but then again, it could be a matter of taste and personal preference.

I am submitting this to Malaysian Food Fest, Melaka Month

Check out these recipes on the following days
Thursday: Pang Susi
Friday: Durian Cendol
Sunday: Roti John


  1. I can go for two bowls of rice just for this dish! Looks so yummy; "suen suen lat lat" slurrp...

  2. Hi Wendy, I have never cook assam pedas before. If i want to cook more gravy,should i increase assam water and the spice paste? Or assam water only?

    Jean Ho

  3. Mel,
    3 bowls la, 2 bowls too little

    Jean Ho,
    Everything except the fish :)
    You don't want the flavour to be diluted.

  4. Ah? 3 Bowls of rice? I will be a "fei po" already. I don't want!!!

  5. looking good! it must be so lovely to eat w rice..=)

  6. looking good! it must be so lovely to eat w rice..=)

  7. My favourite fish with assam! Salivating dish ;)

  8. Wendy, the colour of your assam pedas is gorgeous. Looks so appetising too. Must cook extra rice for that!

  9. MMmm this dish so yummy. can eat 3 bowls of rice solely with this dish.

  10. it's a good thing that we're learning more as we find out abt the different dishes, different methods of in my case, now i also know laksa in trengganu also got white and red types :)

  11. I'm the type to use ready prepared packets when I am craving for some curries....too lazy to prepare all the ingredients! Wish I could have a piece of your lovely mackerel for dinner now, looks so good!

  12. It is sour and spicy, I like it very much. I got one Melaka recipe in mind...will find some time to cook and share it here....

  13. Hi Wendy, just fyi, I borrowed your recipe for my blog Thanks for sharing!

  14. Yummm,..... Great recipe.....

  15. Hi Wendy,

    I noticed that you weigh your ingredients all the time. I would like your recommendation what brand of weighing scale you buy that's good and reliable. Thanks.


  16. Debby,
    I don't think you can get the exact model as mine as it's not a branded one, just a cheap bookstore bought machine.
    Any digital scale will be good

  17. Hi Wendy,
    Tks. Btw, i made this recipe for dinner tonight. I was absolutely yummy. Tks for the recipe.

  18. Debby,
    Join us for the event on Facebook :)

  19. So spicy, tasty and delicious! Do you have any more spicy fish recipes? I'd love to try them all

  20. Millena,
    You can check out my recipe index, there might be something else that interests you :)

  21. Hi Wendy,

    Is mackerel the same as batang? The picture looks like batang to me.

    pls adv.



  22. Lynn,
    You're from Sg right? That's the local name for mackerel there, if I'm not mistaken.


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