I've spent 3 years in this state. 1 year right in the state capital Johor Bahru (JB) and 2 more years in a bordering area, Selancar of which I'll step into Segamat at least 3 times during the weekdays.
I remembered my year in Johor and that was the best Ramadan experience ever. Usually, the food sold at Ramadan bazaars are a gamble, with 60% 'not delicious' risk, and a very high 'yuck' risk for kuihs. But in JB, I have never bought a kuih that is not delicious. Well, it may not be to my liking, but generally, the taste is good because they don't skimp on the ingredients. Coconut milk is used generously. But to be fair, the price is also higher in JB, but that is worth it. I'd pay for quality kuihs that won't end up in the bin. I don't want to waste my money.
I do realise in JB, that most food do taste strong. Seasonings, spices.. everything is 'kow'! Or is it just those places I went to? I don't know, 1 year is actually quite short to explore the local cuisine in depth. I have a few favourites from JB, namely Laksa Johor, Bihun Soto, and Nasi Lemak Senibong. I am in love with the first 2 that whenever I step into the bus station, the body will walk pass the soto stall and I will try very hard not to sit down. But I can't resist it. Whenever I see laksa johor (the thick one), I can't help but buy it, because I knew, after that one year.... it's no more. I don't usually go to Johor. I used to travel East Coast quite often, but I don't travel down south, weirdly. I am only in the south for valid reasons, for work or studies, never for play. No no, Legoland is not in my plans at all.
Unforgettable kuihs are like kuih kole kacang, tepung gomak, nagasari and talam suhun (talam tokyo). And the Javanese food there is nice too! My favourite Javanese dish is the kacang goreng jawa. They cook it really nice there, with a good wok smell. Chinese food.... ehhh..... they taste good la, but I do not know of any special dishes distinct of JB. I can only miss Lavender bakery, LOL.
Now this dish, sting ray asam pedas. LOL. I am really laughing at myself.
I have been cooking sting ray in this manner for more than 10 years but I never knew it is Johor's style. I've eaten many versions of asam fish and it's always this version that wins my heart. Johor's style uses torch ginger and daun kesum. And they saute the chilli paste before preparing the gravy.
Northern style just boils everything, while Melaka style uses other garden herbs and spices. They all don't taste the same, don't smell the same.
So here I bring to you, my favourite Sting Ray Asam Pedas
Asam Pedas Ikan Pari / Spicy Tamarind Sting Ray
Reference : CT Delima and My resipi
700gm sting ray
1 torch ginger bud, halved
4 sprigs of daun kesum (Vietnamese mint), 6-8 inches long each
2 lemon grass (4 inches from the base), smashed
10 young okra, trimmed
2 tomatoes, quartered
75gm + 25gm tamarind pulp
4 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp sugar
1/3 tsp salt
Grind to a paste
12 dried chillies (seeds removed and soaked to soften)
4 cloves garlic
15gm ginger (about 1 Tbsp amount, if chopped, just eyeball it)
5gm turmeric root (about 1 tsp amount, if chopped, just eyeball it)
5gm belachan/shrimp paste (about 1 tsp amount, just eyeball it)
1. Cut sting ray into preferred size. Rub 25gm of tamarind pulp onto sting ray. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then rinse the sting ray pieces clean. (while the sting ray marinates, you can prepare the chilli paste)
2. Rub 75gm tamarind in 750ml water until the seeds looks clean. Strain it. Discard the seeds. Save the ‘juice’.
3. Heat wok and put in oil. Saute chilli paste until it looks glossy (there will be visible oil in the wok).
4. Put in lemon grass, torch ginger, daun kesum and then tamarind juice. Bring to a boil.
5. Put in sting ray pieces, salt and sugar. Bring it back to a boil and taste, adjust taste if needed. Let it simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Sting ray is cooked when it can be flaked easily.
6. Put in okra and let it cook for 1 minute. Put in tomatoes, give it a light toss and turn off the heat.
7. Dish up and serve with rice.
Here is the video
My comfort food. A plate of piping hot rice with lots of asam pedas gravy. It's orgasmic. LOL.
|I like to see these beautiful lines of the sting ray. Yes, you can peel them off, layer by layer|
I am submitting this to Malaysian Food Fest Johor Month hosted by Annie of Annielicious Food