Sour fish stew

Sour fish stew

Pangé ikan padang (Sumatra)

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South East Asian Food

This dish is a Sumatran version of the sour fish soup–stews found all over South East Asia. Compare it with the Malay Ikan asam pedas; Thai Tom som and Kaeng som; Khmer (Cambodian) Samlaa m’chou; and Vietnamese Canh chua cá. The carambola used in this recipe are the small, smooth cooking variety of star fruit about the size and shape of cocktail avocadoes. They may be found in tropical Australia and Indonesia.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised but not chopped
8 whole small carambola, cut into two lengthwise
or 2 small tomatoes, each cut into 4 wedges
salt, to taste
600-800g whole small freshwater fish or saltwater fish, whole or cut into steaks
1 thick slice ginger, bruised
lime juice, to adjust sourness
a few lemon basil leaves
or 1 salam leaf, roughly chopped

Paste spices

Quantity Ingredient
4-6 chillies, seeded and chopped
2cm piece galangal, chopped
2cm piece fresh turmeric, chopped
or 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 candlenuts, roasted and smashed
or macadamia nuts or raw almonds
3 medium-sized garlic cloves, sliced
6 shallots, sliced

Method

  1. Grind the spices to a paste. Put the paste in a wok or a pan with enough water to later cover the fish, add lemongrass, carambola and salt and simmer into a tasty broth. If you are using tomato instead of carambola add this towards the end. Lower in the fish pieces and the ginger and simmer gently over low heat without a lid until the fish is cooked. Do not stir this dish with a spoon as it cooks. It is enough to shake the pan occasionally. Just before serving, add lime juice if necessary to achieve a good sourness. Remove the lemongrass and ginger and garnish with lemon basil leaves.
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