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An appetizing Malay spicy and sour fish stew with vegetables.
Recipe type: Seafood Recipes
Cuisine: Malay
Serves: 6
  • Ingredients A:
  • 2 pieces 1-inch thick fish fillet (about 250 g each)- washed and set aside
  • 80 g tamarind pulp
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass (white part only) – bruised slightly
  • 8 - 10 young ladies fingers – keep whole if small and cut half if it is long
  • 1 tomato – cut into sections
  • 1 small brinjal (eggplant) - cut into quarters horizontally
  • 50 g salted vegetables (optional) - cut into1 inch pieces
  • Oil for frying - about ½ cup
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt and sugar – to taste
  • Ingredients B (Blend into a fine paste):
  • 14 dried chilies - cut each dried chili into 3 sections and boil in a small pot of water till softened. Discard water.
  • 3 large red onions OR 15 small shallots – peeled and roughly cut
  • 4-5 garlic cloves – peeled and roughly chopped
  • 10 g belacan (shrimp paste) - lightly toasted
  1. To prepare tamarind extract, mix tamarind pulp with 1.5 cups of water. Use your fingers to squeeze and press the tamarind pulp to separate the seeds from the pulp. Strain with a sieve for the juice and discard seeds. Set aside.
  2. Heat up oil in a medium sized pot or wok.
  3. Fry the blended ingredients over medium-low heat until it is fragrant. Add in lemongrass and stir. Stir continuously and make sure the paste does not dry up. Cover and let it boil for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Open the lid. Continue to stir until the chili paste is drier and well cooked. Pour in tamarind water and about 2 - 3 cups (refer to notes) of water. Let it boil. Now is the time to taste and season with some salt and sugar to taste.
  5. Add the fish and salted vegetables. Boil for about 2 minutes. Add ladies fingers and brinjal. Cover and boil for about 3 minutes. Lastly, add the tomato sections. Boil for about 30 seconds and turn off the heat. Serve hot with rice.
Cooking Notes
1. Tomatoes are added last so that it retain its shape and does not become overcooked.
2. Do not overcook ladies fingers or they will become too soft and mushy.
3. Fish meat can be substituted with fish head, fish tail or other types of seafood like prawns and squid.
4. When blending the spices, add some water into the blender or it will be difficult to blend.
5. Adjust the amount of water to your own preference. Use more water (but not too much or it will be too soupy) if you want a more watery curry and lesser water if you'd like a thicker curry. Personally, I like it somewhere in between.
5. Adjust the spices to suit your taste buds. If you prefer the dish to be spicier, use more dried chilies. And for a more sour taste, add more tamarind water into the curry.
Recipe by Souper Diaries at