29 March 2009

Ikan Asam Pekat, Sambal Udang and Sambal Timun

Today is a rare Sunday that we didn't have any plans, appointments or admin stuff to settle. Decided to cook 3 dishes from the Nonya Nasi Lemak class I attended last week, for dinner - the Ikan Asam Pekat (Braised fish in gravy made from tamarind and turmeric), Sambal Udang (Stir-fried prawns in thick and spicy sambal sauce) and Sambal Timun (cucumbers in sambal). Shall KIV the nasi lemak, ikan bilis and onion omelet first.

Which means, hubby and I had to wake up bright and early enough for some marketing at the wet market, because it would be easier to get all the ingredients I need from a wet market.

I love wet markets, which is always bustling with activity and vibrancy. You can get almost everything. Besides, produce are fresher and prices cheaper than supermarkets. Whenever I feel like cooking fish, I would always go to a wet market. Fish sold at supermarkets just don't seem that 'fresh'.

Well, it's just that I usually like to sleep late during weekends so it would take some effort to wake up specially.
Prepping the ingredients. Most of the ingredients like chillies, lemon grass (serai), tamarind (asam), shallots (bawang merah), tumeric (kunyit), prawn paste (belacan), kalamansi lime (limau kesturi), candlenuts (buah keras), can be purchased from Malay stalls. The Mak cik at this particular Malay stall I went was really friendly and helped select the fresher ingredients and even went to her neighbour's stall to take the particular brand of asam I want. LOL. The prices came up to $6.20 and she just accepted $6. Such is the hospitality and warmth at wet markets.

Rempah (raw, ground spices and herbs) for the Sambal Udang. Thank goodness I have my trusty Moulinex electric food chopper which can blend all the ingredients finely in seconds. Don't need to be a little nonya having to pound rempah using mortar and pestle :p

Frying the rempah for Sambal Udang. The spiced aroma filled the entire house!

The Sambal Udang looked spicy but in actual fact, not at all? Would have prefered the sambal to be more spicy but nonetheless I still like this dish for the piquant taste. Probably could add even more chillies but I didn't even deseed the chillies. Well, shall try adding more chillies next time. And I think I might have overestimated the amount of oil needed to fry the rempah, turned out a bit too oily.

The Ikan Asam Pekat tasted good, with very flavourful gravy of tamarind and turmeric! It was well balanced flavour of spiciness and tartness. Hubby gave thumbs-up for this dish, and wiped out the ikan tenggiri =D

The Sambal Timun was nicely done as well. Glad that hubby liked this dish too. The rempah made from chillies, belacan and udang kering (dried shrimps) gave it a very unique taste which was quite refreshing.
All in all, it was quite a successful attempt and the process is simpler and faster than I expected, probably due to the food chopper which substituted the manual pounding of mortar and pestle.
We had the dishes with plain rice. I think would be better with nasi lemak. Next time, I will definitely try the nasi lemak!


  1. Can I have the recipe? :)


  2. I cannot give the recipe as it is under copyright by the cooking school and chef.