Who says starting a blog is simple? I agree, it is. But maintaining a blog is…hmm. I experienced a mental block yesterday and didn’t know what to write. It would have been easy for me to just post a recipe and that’s it. But I wouldn’t do that to my readers, however few I have. So in search of ideas, I got my gear and went out, hoping that I’ll find something interesting to write about.
I made my way to the temporary bazaar near my place. It is called Bazaar Ramadhan. Normally I avoid such places at all costs. Why? Because I am fasting and this place is a food paradise during the fasting month. A whiff of the briyani rice and the dendeng in your nostrils is enough to waver even the strong-willed.
So with absolute determination I made my way to the bazaar equipped with my dSLR Nikon camera which in the end I did not use because I was too embarrassed to take it out in case someone thinks that I am showing off. Or maybe it was just me being too self-conscious? So I used my 8.0 megapixel android mobile phone instead.
Anyway, the place was swarmed with people. And the stalls were preparing their goodies expecting a bigger crowd later in the afternoon. I walked around the makeshift stalls while enjoying the view of colorful arrays of clothes, cakes, biscuits, drinks and dishes prepared by the stalls. Each hopeful to make more money than the day before during the fasting month. But they have nothing to worry, Asians basically eat around the clock, these bazaars attracts Muslims and non-Muslims alike. And as far as I know, a hungry man will buy more than what he can eat and will go on a buying binge because every food he sees is just so hard to resist.
While walking around I snapped some pictures and got some ideas on what to cook later for Iftar. Glad that I did not succumb to temptations when I see all the food there. I went home empty-handed except for my photo shots.
Today’s dish is Asam Pedas Ikan Pari Lada Hitam to be exact, but since that will be a mouthful to say, let’s just call it Asam Pedas Ikan Pari. This translates to Sting Ray in Sour and Spicy Stew (with Black Pepper).
This is a very common dish cooked by Malays at home. It is also commonly sold in food stalls in Singapore. Chunks of sting ray meat cooked in a chilli red, thick gravy with ladies finger and laksa leaves which give its fragrance. It is a spicy dish and slightly sour to taste. Best enjoyed hot with warm white rice.
Ingredients you will need:
- 1 kilogram of ikan pari or sting ray meat, cut into chunks
- 4-5 tablespoons of chilli paste
- 8 shallots, grounded
- 4 cloves of garlic, grounded
- 1/2 an inch of ginger, grounded
- 1/2 an inch of galangal, grounded
- 1/2 an inch of dried shrimp paste, grounded
- 4 stalks of laksa (polygonum) leaves
- 5 pieces of kaffir lime leaves
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, halved and bruised
- 5-6 ladies fingers, remove the stalk, or 1-2 eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch in thickness
- 2 tablespoons of tamarind, mixed with 3 tablespoons of water to extract the juice
- 3 pieces of asam keping or asam gelugor (Garcinia atroviridis)
- 3 candlenuts, grounded
- Salt and Seasoning to taste
- Cooking oil for frying
- Black pepper, optional
- Mix the grounded ingredients in a bowl to make the rempah (spice paste).
- Heat about 3-4 tablespoons of oil in the wok and stir-fry the spice paste and lemongrass. Fry until the spice paste is cooked and the oil separates (meaning the oil floated to the surface, the spice paste is fragrant and there is less steam coming from cooking paste now).
- Add in the tamarind juice, a little of water (maybe a cup) and the asam keping.
- Next add in the ladies fingers or eggplants, sting ray meat, laksa leaves and kaffir lime leaves. Let it simmer and stir occasionally.
- Finally add in the salt, seasonings and black pepper (optional) and simmer till the meat is cooked and the vegetables are soft.
You can replace sting ray meat with other fish meat if you can’t find sting ray in your local supermarket.
As for the galangal, shrimp paste, candlenuts, kaffir lime leaves, asam keping, tamarind and laksa leaves, you can find them in any wet market or supermarket in Singapore or Malaysia. Otherwise you can find them in Asian Chinese or Indian grocery shops in your country.
For the chilli paste, you can make your own by following my instructions on how to make one in my Essential Ingredients page or you can buy ready made ones in the supermarket.
Finally, hope you can give this recipe a try to have a taste of Malay cuisine and share with me how it went. Happy cooking 🙂