Weekend of no intentions

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


Fish steaks

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

To blend

1 1/2 large red onions

3 garlics

1″ ginger

2″ galangal

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!

Assam pedas ikan with lady fingers (okra) 


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.

Elly with her assam pedas. 


Nor’s verdict: 

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

1 thought on “Weekend of no intentions

  1. Heeeemmm, Asam Pedas Kepala Ikan, just the mentioned of this dish makes your mouth waters….really. It has been, it is, and it will always be the most endeared dish in the Malay culinary. Every Malay kitchen has its own version of Asam Pedas…and as Elly and Nor said, it is true, it will aIways bring you the memory of your grandmother’s kitchen.

    At my mother’s restaurant (which still exist today, 50 years later) her Asam Pedas Ikan Sembilang (Cat Fish) is still a daily menu. My brother and his wife run the restaurant today. They have continued to make the dish the way mom made it, and I always look forward to the dish when I Balik Kampong.

    So ladies, although I did not get to taste your Asam Pedas this time, by the look of it, I know it must have tasted fantastic.

    What’s next on the menu?


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