Asam Pedas – a perennial Malay favourite. My Mom claims she could eat this every single day and not get sick of it. There’s so many different variations but the basic ingredients are the same throughout – chilli paste and tamarind water.

One day, my Mom had to go to the market and so I asked her to buy for me some fish. She got for me two beautiful red snapper and cleaned them for me. How sweet, right?  Having to cook dinner one weekend, I decided to take the red snappers out from the fridge and cut them into three (OK I got the Help to do that) and proceeded to make the paste. Now, this chilli paste is actually very standard- dried chillies, onions, garlic, turmeric(fresh), belacan. However, that evening, I remembered watching an episode of Chef Wan and he threw in one lemongrass finely sliced and a couple of kaffir lime leaves in the blender! My Mom, my Guru of Malay home cooking, never did that. Feeling adventurous, I though what the hey, and did the same.

 

Add plenty (I know that sounds scary) of oil in a deep pot and fry the chilli paste till the oil separates from the chilli paste. Oh, throw in one lemongrass in too.
Use about a palm-sized amount of tamarind. Add water to make a paste.
Add the tamarind water into the pot. Bring to a slight boil. Add salt.
Asam Pedas Version 1

Oh, add in two kaffir lime leaves after putting in the fish. Make sure to do a taste test and season, use sugar if too sour etc. That night was the plain basic asam pedas, using kaffir lime leaves to flavour. Feeling rather proud of my effort (heh, how often do I cook ‘real’ Asian dishes?) I brought some over to the in-laws. FIL was cute, though it made me reflect on this dish.  Asking MIL to try my dish, he started by saying, “_ eat. You look at the colour like that but it’s actually good.” I wonder what went wrong? Maybe for Version 2, I’ll try using a combination of dried and fresh chillies so hopefully it’ll turn out more authentic. 🙂