Kitchen by TILAH

Tom Yum Tamarind Fish (Ikan Masak Asam Tom Yum)

Tom Yum Tamarind Fish (Ikan Masak Asam Tom Yum)

Yesterday was quite an agony.  I think I might have sprained a vein somewhere around my left shoulder area.  Over the past few days, the pain was all over the arm, on and off and here and there. After googling, I was scared of an impending heart attack.  Now that the pain has subsided to just a particular area in the left shoulder, I am quite sure I sprained it.  So nope!  It is not a heart attack coming!

My left shoulder hurts even more when I am carrying my plus size ten month old baby!  It also hurts when I move my left arm at a certain angle especially when I am busy kitchen-ing.  I have some painkillers from the recent doctor's visit.  I shall take them before I sleep.  Then, in the next few days, I can plan for a good massage.

About my food habits, as usual, I get hormonal cravings quite often in a year.  Something like once or twice a month.  I want sourish tasting food.  I love the Malay dish "Asam Pedas" or "Asam Fish" as what it is commonly known in English in Singapore.  Whenever my mother cooks this dish, you will see my siblings and I taking a small bowl, pouring the gravy into the bowl, sit in front of the television and start sipping the gravy by spoon.  That's how delicious it is.

I like it really hot especially when you add ground black pepper in addition to the dried red chilli paste but I would be subjecting my husband to a one night stand (or maybe two or three!), with the toilet bowl!  His stomach would definitely not be able to take the heat!! 

Still, I wanted something almost similar in taste but not so hot. Then came the idea of my Tom Yum Tamarind Fish.  It seems that I like to Tom Yum everything, don't I?

When we had it for lunch yesterday, my husband really enjoyed the dish.  He said the dish is now one of his favourites.  The taste is almost similar to my favourite Asam Pedas dish though there is a slight difference in the aroma and it is definitely not hot. Just a tiny bit spicy.  Sayf loves it too.  I will add brinjals and lady's fingers the next time I cook this dish. 

I shall not strain my hands further, so let's rush this off and take a look at the recipe.

The ingredients you would need:

10 - 12 fish pieces of your choice - cleaned and marinated with two tablespoons of turmeric powder and salt to taste and fried till cooked (and crisp if you like cos that's how I like mine!) and set aside
2 stalks of lemon grass - cut into two and crushed
1 - 2 cm piece of galangal - crushed (I ran out of this so I did not add it in, but it is good to add it into anything "tom yum" to enhance the flavour but do not overdo the portion otherwise your dish will taste bitter)
6 pieces of kaffir lime leaves - torn into smaller pieces
2 pieces of tom yum cubes (Knorr brand or any other brands of your choice or you can also substitute with 1-2 spoons of tom yum paste)
4 pieces of tamarind peels (or you can substitute with a bowl of tamarind extract from about a handful of tamarind paste)
1-2 bowls of water (you don't need this if you are substituting the tamarind peels with the bowl of tamarind extract)
1 spoon sugar (Ajinamoto/seasoning if you prefer)
salt to taste

(*items to be blended)
8-10 stalks of fresh red chillies* - you can add bird's eye chillies if you like it hot and spicy
2 large onions*
6 garlics*
2-3 cm ginger*

5-8 pieces of lady's finger - cleaned and cut into two about a minute before putting into the gravy to prevent leaking slime
1 piece of long brinjal - slit in halves and cut into pieces


1.  Heat oil in pot or pan and add crushed lemon grass.  Saute for a minute.

2.  Add in the blended ingredients and sugar (or your Ajinamoto or seasoning) and sauté for about half a minute.

3.  Add in the torn pieces of kaffir lime leaves.  This is also the time to add in the crushed galangal.  Saute for another half a minute.

4.  Add in the tom yum cubes and tamarind peels.  Saute until oil separates.  Do note that whenever you are sautéing a blended mix of fresh red chillies, due to its moisture content, it takes a while before the oil separates (about 15 minutes or longer, so be patient if you want your dish to taste good).

5.  Once you see oil has collected on the surface of your sautéing mix, oil has separated (this means your sautéed mix is properly cooked and will not taste raw).

6. Now add in water and salt to taste (if you are substituting the tamarind peels with tamarind extract, you may add your bowl of tamarind extract now).

7. Bring to a boil over high fire. Do a taste check!

8. Add in the fried fish pieces (as well as brinjal and lady's finger pieces if you like).

9. Simmer for another two to three minutes.

10. Off fire and serve.

Enjoy with white rice or white bread! Happy Kitchen-ing!!


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