My dad was a government servant and we stayed in government quarters until he retired. My early years were in Sungei Besi government quarters. Most of our neighbors were Malays. We were so close with our immediate Malay neighbor that we were practically spending our days in their home more than ours. We spoke fluent Bahasa Malaysia and eat all types of Malay food. When the government quarters were demolished, we moved to Brickfields whereas my Malay kakaks and abangs went on to live somewhere else.
For as long as I can remember, we were still connected. With the ups and downs of life we went through, we lost touch. Though we attempted to find them, sad to say we did not. I still have conversations with my mum on the glorious and happy moments of growing up with this wonderful Malay family. Well, we have not given up. If possible we want to be connected to all of them but let's see where faith and the power of friendship will lead us.
So that’s the background story why I love Malay food. When I tied the knot with my other half, he became curious and puzzled on my fondness for sambal belacan, asam pedas, masak lemak, tempoyak, budu, petai and the list goes on. He cannot stand the smell of budu and tempoyak but is slowly enjoying petai. Asam pedas, my favorite became his too.
You can use any kind of firm white fish but don’t miss on bawal hitam (black pomfret). For the veg, either brinjal or lady fingers can be considered. Go ahead and indulge into this typical Malaysian sour spicy lip smacking asam pedas with white rice.
500g (one medium size) bawal hitam/pomfret – scale, gut and cut into pieces
2 pcs asam keeping/dried tamarind
3-4 Chinese brinjals – cut lengthwise.
1 bunga kantan/torch ginger bud – shredded
10 cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato –cut into eight pieces
½ cup oil
1 ½ tsp sugar
Salt for taste
Rempah/Spices (blend/ground to a thick smooth paste)
½ inch ginger
10 dried red chilies (or as per taste)
1 inch kunyit hidup/fresh turmeric
1 inch lengkuas/galangal
When oil is heated, fry spices till aromatic and oils splits.
Add ½ liter of water and put in tomatoes, brinjals, asam, salt and sugar.
Stir and simmer.
When gravy is heated through, drop in fish slowly.
Continue to simmer until fish is cooked.
Stir in bunga kantan and remove from heat.