Asam Ikan Kembung

Dinner, Fish, Lunch August 10th, 2007

asam ikan kembung

My sister loves asam (also spelt as assam) -based dishes, be it Asam Ikan Kembung (Tamarind Indian Mackerel) or Asam Laksa. In fact, mum said that my sister would most likely be drooling if she were to see this dish up on this site. My sister is currently residing in Singapore and on her trips back to Kuala Lumpur, she would usually cook this or ask mum to cook this.

There are two parts to cooking this dish. One is to prepare the chilli-based paste and the other, to cook the fish. For the chilli-based paste, you can actually prepare in advance and keep them in the fridge for future uses (which is what we usually do at home). Asam Ikan Kembung is sour, sweet and spicy in taste and is an excellent dish to whet the appetite. It goes well with plain steamed white rice. You can actually use other types of fish but Ikan Kembung tastes good here. A word of caution though. Take care when eating the fish as the bones might get to you.

This is mum’s recipe for Asam Ikan Kembung



  • 4 pieces ikan kembung (cleaned and gutted)
  • 1 large onion (sliced)
  • 4 to 8 pieces ladies finger (whole or halved)
  • 2 large tomatoes (quartered)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup asam juice (soak 1 tablespoon of asam / tamarind paste in 1 1/2 cup water for 15 minutes, squeeze and then strain juice)
  • Corn starch (mix 1 teaspoon corn flour with 100 ml water)
  • Cooking oil (palm oil)


Chilli paste (pound / blend)

  • 2 slices of tumeric (kunyit)
  • 5 pieces of dried chilli (pre-soaked in hot water and remove seeds)
  • 4 garlic
  • 8 shallots



  • Salt and sugar to taste



Pat dry the ikan kembung and shallow fry it till semi brown. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons palm oil in wok and saute chilli paste on medium heat till aromatic and beginning to brown. Add onions and continue frying for 30 seconds. Pour asam juice and warm water and bring to boil.

Once asam juice starts to boil, add ladies finger and tomatoes and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Add pre-fried fish and seasoning to taste. Allow fish to cook under boiling asam juice for at least 1 minute.

Before dishing out, stir in preferred amount of corn starch to thicken and smoothen the gravy to your liking. This dish is excellent if you garnish or top it with chopped chinese parsley.



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  1. 1
    dancing queen
    August 11th, 2007 at 9:43 am

    I would love to try your asam ikan kembung. BTW, how much garlic did you use? 4 pips, right?

  2. 2
    August 11th, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Hey, your sis is not the only one drooling at the sight of the assam fish. I am too and thanks for reminding me to add assam fish and assam laksa in my ‘must eat’ list when I return to KL for a visit next month. Will keep you posted.-r

  3. 3
    Rasa Malaysia
    August 12th, 2007 at 1:50 am

    Anything assam I love…Assam Pedas, Assam Fish, Assam Prawns, Assam Pork and the list goes on. 😛

  4. 4
    August 12th, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Love assam and can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks!

  5. 5
    August 17th, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    Dancing Queen : Oh yes, 4 cloves would do. Try it and adjust it to your liking 😀

    reeseboston : I am sure you must be drooling at the thought of the food available in M’sia right now. 😀

    Rasa Malaysia : Have you heard of fried bee hoon with assam sauce? Tasty! I’m trying to get the recipe from my aunt.

    Eastmeetswestkitchen : Do let me know if you like it or not, ya?

  6. 6
    July 23rd, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    next time can try to add some asam leave, d taste more better.

  7. 7
    January 11th, 2009 at 11:38 am


    If you add some slices of pineapple (better blent the pineapple)… the assam soup will be further yammee!!

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