Nor and I always find chances to spend as much time as we can. Call it any day, workday or even weekends…anything is possible for us. So last weekend was not to honor Grandma Miah…it was to honor my promise to Mama Maria, to cook for her Assam Pedas Kepala Ikan (Fish head in spicy and sour soup).
Fish head -mackerel is good
Salt to taste
A bunch of sweet basil leaves
Half a fistful of tamarind, add water and squeeze the tamarind husks to make approx 1/2 bowl of juice
5-6 tbsp of cooking oil
1 lemongrass – trimmed close to the bulb and ‘half battered’, LOL
1 1/2 large red onions
2 fist fulls of dried chillies
1″ fresh turmeric
1″ shrimp paste
Heat a deep pot and add in the oil.
Put in the ‘half battered’ lemongrass, wait until fragrant
Add in blended ingredients and cook until it is crispy (means, water has totally evaporated and turns pasty)
Add in tamarind juice and stir. Add in water little by little. DO NOT add too much water as you would want to keep the thick consistency
Add in salt to taste, let the soup boil
Add in the fish head/steak, DO NOT stir….and close the pot. Put heat in low-medium for about 20 minutes
Let the steam cook the uncovered part of the fish
Add in sweet basil leaves, close the pot again and turn off the heat.
Hint: Assam pedas is best devoured the day after which means, no food shall go to waste!
This was one of the first recipes that I learned from my Mak when I was 14. Assam pedas is my dad’s favorite dish and I used to cook it at least twice a week.
Having living here for almost 10 years. Truthfully, I have only cooked this dish TWICE. I am glad that I still have the magic of cooking and yesterday’s cooking tasted just like before….unmarred!
I should say…..I am very, very proud of myself, for still feeling the passion and letting others taste it.
I did enjoy the spicyness and sourness of the ‘kuah’ (gravy). It was a great compliment to the king mackerel head that we had used. I think salted egg would be a good compliment as well although my mom and Elly had it with salted fish. It is an awesome dish and once again it brought me back to my grandmother’s kitchen. She, too, had cooked this.
We also served calamansi (limau kasturi) juice. Since we can’t get fresh calamansi here, we managed to find some frozen calamansi juice. Sedap!
Nor + Elly