I love asam pedas. It's so appetizing. I have guests coming for dinner and it's perfect! Dishes like this is hard to cook with just 2 adults eating. Lots of work involved.
I went to chat with my colleague who married a Malaccan and cooks Malacaan food quite often. She told me, Asam Pedas Melaka is spiced, and if I were to cook Merlimau style, there has to be burnt coconut, as taught to her by her mother in law. As she is not staying with her in laws, she just played with the dish, adding anything she fancies. Yeah, that's what I will do too, if I'm not blogging about heritage dishes.
I have tried cooking various types of asam pedas, and they each differ. There are major characteristics that make them different.
Northern States: Whole dish is boiled and the gravy is clear and light. Polygonum leaves and torch ginger is compulsory. Kembung (Indian Mackerel) is commonly used.
Johor: Aromatics are sauteed and polygonum leaves and torch ginger is compulsory.
Melaka Nonya: Aromatics are sauteed, candlenuts and kaffir lime leaves are used. Torch ginger and polygonum leaf not used. Mackerel is commonly used.
Melaka Malay: Aromatics are sauteed, spices are a must, use of burnt coconut, types of aromatic leaf used depends on meat and fish type. Some will add salted vegetables to it. Wolf herring is a popular fish choice, but other fishes or even chicken may be used too.
So, there is no 'the one Malaysian Asam Pedas' as each of them are Malaysian and possess different characteristics.
That night 5 adults swept clean 850gm of sting ray. Personally I still prefer Johor's version, but this is my hubby's favourite among the others. My guests also liked the gravy a lot. I chose to leave the big sting ray steak whole, and served them in 2 dishes, as it looked better than all cut up. It takes way longer to cook this way, but I liked the way it looked. Some will make it with more gravy but I read, the way it is in Melaka is that the gravy is thicker than other versions of asam pedas. That is why you see my gravy doesn't look that much. But then again, not every family in Melaka cooks it the same way, isn't it? Some might like it soupy.
As long as the main characteristics are met, then I don't think one should dwell over the fine details.
I am a human and a mammal because I have hair and gives birth (plus other characteristics). Not because we look exactly like each other.
Asam Pedas Melakaby WendyinKK
Reference: My Resepi and Kak Roslina
850g sting ray (more or less is ok, you can use other fishes too)
10 young okra
1 brinjal/aubergine/eggplant, cut into chunks
Coconut flesh chunk, slightly wider than 3 fingers
50gm tamarind pulp + 350ml water, strained
2 kaffir lime leaves, torn
Salt and sugar to taste
20g dried chilli (24pcs)
8 gm turmeric root (thumb size)
4g belacan (1tsp)
1. Place coconut flesh chunk onto the stove, and burn it on medium low heat until it smokes and chars. Let it cool down, wash it and trim away parts that are too charred. Cut away the brown skin and slice the coconut thinly. Blend it to a fine paste with some water.
2. Prepare ingredients for spice paste, and grind it.
3. Heat a wok and put in around 60ml oil.(1/4 cup) and saute the spice paste until glossy.
4. Put in coconut paste and and tamarind juice and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Put in kaffir lime leaf.
5. Put in fish and simmer until the fish is cooked (Time depends on size of fish). Taste and add salt and sugar according to preference.
6. Add in brinjal chunks and let it simmer until almost cooked. Add in okra, simmer until brinjal is cooked. Turn off the heat.