Asam Pedas (Gulai) - Sweet and Sour Fish

Foodista Cookbook Entry

Category: Main Dishes | Blog URL:

This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.


1 pound pomfret or any type of white fleshed fish, red snapper, grey
1 tomato (cut into wedges)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons of cooking oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce or half of an anchovies s
Salt to taste
Spice Paste (blended):
1 inch ginger
1 stalk of lemon grass (white part only)
4 shallots or 1 large onion
10 dried chillies (vary depending how spicy you want it to be)
Tamarind Juice:
1 1/4 cups of water
small Tamarind pulp (size of a ping pong ball)


Blend the spice paste in a food processor then set aside.
Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind pulp constantly to extract the flavor into the water. Drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
Heat oil and fry the spice paste for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
Add the tamarind juice, turmeric powder and bring to boil.
Add the fish.
Add the tomato wedges and okras and bring to boil.
Add the salt, and brown sugar.
Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
Serve hot.




Growing up with a ‘true blue Johorean’ mom; who also happens to be an awesome cook, my brothers and I were often treated to some amazing Johorean dishes, whether home-cooked or not. (Johoreans have a tendency to be obsessed about their food). Like the popular laksa Johore, soto, lontong, pechal, kachang pol (YUMMMMMMMMM), mee baidali (mee rebus), telur pindang, murtabak singapore (okay, yeah technically this dish is Singaporean, but JB and Singapore is so near lah!), roti naik, etc. Although…there is one dish I haven’t listed that I must consider one of our family’s comfort foods.

It’s something I grew up eating, and enjoying. It was usually on our dinner table at least once a week , where ever we were, Johore, Perak, Selangor, DeKalb, IL, etc. Hahaha, yes…my family and I moved ALOT growing up. The ‘gulai ikan’ or more commonly known as asam pedas. North of the Peninsular (Malaysia) gulai tends to be curry, but down south, it is like this awesome sour stew of fish, tamarind, chilli, tomatoes and okra. It is one of the first Malaysian dishes I learned to make when I first left home to pursue my bachelors degree in Australia.

It was an important dish for me to learn, as it was a dish that reminded me of home; of helping my mom in the kitchen, of my late grandfather who loved this dish so much he’d eat it (if there was any leftover) with saltine crackers for afternoon “tea”, etc. Hence being even farther away from home now…this dish still manages to comfort me, and remind me of my family and my home and where I came from.

So for those of you Malaysian living far from home…and want a little taste of traditional home-cooked Malaysian asam pedas to remind you of home, here’s the recipe. I plan on making this dish tonight.




Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 11:27am


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