I have always been saying that if I were to pick a favourite dish, I'd surely go for curry. No question or hesitation over it! There you see, I am a big fan of curry. The varieties of curry found in Malaysia is simply wonderful and abundant. Besides, the gravy ranges from thick to thin. Whichever way, just serve it with rice and it turns into comfort food to many. When it comes to my utmost favourite seafood curry, I can never say no to 'Sour and Spicy Fish Curry' or in Malay, it is known as 'Asam Pedas Ikan'. Of course, just like grilled fish (Ikan Bakar), it has to be cooked using stingray to get the ultimate flavour.
It had been quite some time since I last ate 'Asam Pedas Ikan Pari'. I absolutely love it to bits. However, I held back recreating this dish as I was not able to get the tamarind peel and ginger torch flower which are both core ingredients in creating the special 'Asam Pedas' taste and aroma. There was once where I found out that the local botanical garden was growing the plant. I was so close to contacting them to ask for the flower. Just imagine their reaction had I actually contacted them! Thankfully, my mom brought some to Germany when she came over for a visit. Now, I proudly have some at home. The most important ingredient to me (personally) is stingray, as I had mentioned earlier. Each time, as I make my way to the fishmonger which is a 20 minutes bike ride away, I keep my fingers crossed hoping that stingray would be available. There were many unlucky times but finally, I got hold of them. Pheww! To you guys living in countries where all these ingredients are easily available, there is really no reason not to recreate this dish!!
Having said that, I understand that in many countries, tamarind peel, ginger torch flower and vietnamese coriander are not available. Do not let that hold you back from making this dish. As the sourness of the dish is really important, you need to have tamarind pulp or tamarind paste, at least. Then, balancing the sourness, saltiness, sweetness and spiciness is the next key factor to making a good 'Asam Pedas'.
My husband enjoyed the curry a lot but he did suggest using a different type of fish because stingray does not have much meat. Unfortunately, I am definitely unable to compromise but I will add more stringray next time. The soft meat of the stingray which soaks up the curry is really one of its kind, unlike other fishes. However, if it is not possible to obtain stingray, replace it with any white fishes like Red Snapper or Sea Bass. 'Asam Pedas Ikan Pari' is one dish that tastes better with every mouthful. Hence, it is one dish I would not mind letting it sit for 2-3 hours after it is ready as the taste gets more flavourful as time passes. Lastly, simmer the curry until it is slightly thicker to obtain a flavourful curry.
Fish in Asam Curry is also known as: Asam Pedas Ikan PariIkan Pari Masak Asam Pedas
Blend ingredients in A. In a pot, sauté blended ingredients in 4 tablespoons of oil until oil separates. Then, add ginger torch flower to pot. Continue sautéing ingredients until fragrant.
Soak tamarind pulp in 500 ml of warm water for 10 minutes. Run tamarind pulp water through a sieve and add to pot.
Once gravy begins to boil, add aubergine, ladies fingers and tomatoes. Add sugar and salt to taste.
Then, add fish to the pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes or until fish is cooked. Bruise some lime leaves and add to pot. Serve with steamed white rice.