Assam Pedas literally means sour spicy. It is a classic Malay dish which is popular in both Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Traditionally, Assam Pedas calls for ikan tenggiri (Spanish mackerel) or ikan pari (stingray), but I used red snapper fillet instead. It is a very appetising dish as the gravy has the perfect balance of spiciness, sweetness and sourness that goes very well with steamed rice.
Personally, this is a perfect one dish meal as various vegetables such as okra, tomatoes and/or brinjal/eggplants and pineapples may be added to the Assam Pedas.
Making the spices/rempah from scratch was a tedious process but it was worth every minute of my time. The taste of the Assam Pedas still lingers in my mouth as I am penning down this post. Yummy!!
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Serves 4 persons
3 slices of fish fillet (any fish of your choice)
1 big onion, cut into four
10 lady fingers/okra
2 tomatoes, cut into four
1 Bunga Kantan/Torch Ginger Flower, cut into half remove the stalk and slice thinly.
3 sprigs of Daun Kesum (Vietnamese mint)
3 tablespoons tamarind, add 5 tablespoons of warm water and squeeze the juice
Some fresh/canned pineapple, optional
Some cooking oil
3 to 4 cups water
2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar or to taste
Some salt to taste
Lime juice of 1 lime
5 garlic cloves
2 stalks lemon grass (white part only), finely sliced
1½ inches Lengkuas/Galangal, cut into small pieces
2 inches kunyit/fresh turmeric, cut into small pieces
7 fresh red chillies
10 dried chillies, soak with hot water (depends on how spicy you like)
1½ cm toasted belacan, grind into powder or 2 tablespoons prawn paste
- Ground the spices in a blender with a little water.
- In a wok or pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add in the ground spice paste and fry until fragrant.
- Add bunga kantan, onions, tomatoes, and pineapple. Mix them well with the paste.
- Then add in the daun kesom and the tamarind juice. Stir and cook for a short while.
- Add in brown sugar, salt, and lime juice then give it a stir.
- Add some water and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add in the fish and addition water if necessary. Simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
- Halfway through the cooking, add in the lady fingers. Cover and simmer.
- Adjust the taste accordingly.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.
- The amount of water you use will depend on the consistency you like.
- You may cut the okra into half.
- If you want it spicier, add more dry chilli. If you want it less spicy, remove the seeds of the chilli.