How to cook Assam Pedas

Assam Pedas is a popular Malaysian sour and spicy fish stew that is packed with vibrant flavors. It is a dish that is commonly found in the state of Malacca, but it has gained popularity throughout the country and even in other parts of Southeast Asia. Assam Pedas is known for its tangy and spicy taste, which is achieved by the combination of tamarind juice, chili paste, and a variety of aromatic ingredients.

To cook Assam Pedas, you will need several key ingredients. The main ingredient is usually fish, such as mackerel or red snapper, but you can also use prawns or other seafood. Other essential ingredients include tamarind pulp, shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, dried chili paste, and various spices like turmeric and cumin. These ingredients are combined to create a rich and flavorful broth that is the base of the dish.

To prepare Assam Pedas, start by soaking the tamarind pulp in water to extract the juice. Then, blend the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and dried chili paste into a fine paste. Heat up some oil in a pot and sauté the paste until fragrant. Then, add in the tamarind juice, water, and spices. Allow the broth to simmer and let the flavors meld together. Finally, add in the fish or seafood and cook until they are tender and fully cooked. Serve the Assam Pedas hot with steamed rice for a delicious and satisfying meal.

What is Assam Pedas and its origins

The origins of Assam Pedas can be traced back to the Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century. It was during this time that the Peranakan people started to develop their unique cuisine. Assam Pedas is said to have originated as a way to preserve fish in the tropical climate of Malaysia. The combination of tamarind, chili peppers, and various spices acted as a natural preservative, allowing the fish to be stored for longer periods.

In terms of ingredients, Assam Pedas typically consists of fish (such as mackerel or stingray), tamarind paste, chili peppers, shallots, garlic, turmeric, and various other spices. The fish is first marinated in a mixture of tamarind paste, chili peppers, and spices, and then cooked in a spicy broth until the flavors are fully infused. The result is a tangy and fiery dish that is bursting with flavor.

Ingredients and Steps to Cook Assam Pedas


  • 500g fish (mackerel, snapper, or any firm white fish)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red chilies, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon belacan (shrimp paste)
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Water
  • Handful of okra and tomatoes (optional)


  1. Soak the tamarind paste in a small bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes. Then, strain the mixture to get the tamarind juice.
  2. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion, minced garlic, and sliced red chilies. Sauté until the onion is soft and fragrant.
  3. Add the turmeric powder and belacan to the pan. Stir fry for about a minute to release their flavors.
  4. Add the tamarind juice, palm sugar, and salt to the pan. Stir well to combine the ingredients.
  5. Add the fish to the pan and coat it with the sauce. If desired, add the okra and tomatoes as well.
  6. Simmer the Assam Pedas over low heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
  7. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with more salt or sugar, if needed.
  8. Serve the Assam Pedas hot with steamed rice.

Assam Pedas is a flavorful dish that combines the tanginess of tamarind with the spices and heat of chili. It is a popular choice for Malaysians and seafood lovers alike, and it can be made easily at home using the above ingredients and steps.

Tips and variations for cooking Assam Pedas

1. Choose the right fish

The key ingredient in Assam Pedas is the fish. Opt for a firm and meaty fish, such as mackerel or red snapper, as they hold up well during the cooking process and add great flavor to the dish.

2. Prepare the Assam Pedas paste

2. Prepare the Assam Pedas paste

To make the Assam Pedas paste, blend together red chilies, dried shrimp paste, shallots, garlic, ginger, and belacan (shrimp paste). You can adjust the amount of red chilies based on your preferred level of spiciness. If you don’t have access to belacan, you can substitute it with fish sauce or shrimp paste.

3. Balance the flavors

Assam Pedas is known for its complex flavors, which come from the combination of sour, spicy, and savory ingredients. To achieve the perfect balance, adjust the amount of tamarind paste, sugar, and salt according to your taste preference. If you prefer a tangier taste, add more tamarind paste. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar. And if you want it saltier, add more salt.

4. Enhance with additional ingredients

While the basic Assam Pedas recipe includes fish and vegetables like okra and tomatoes, you can experiment with other ingredients to add more depth to the dish. Some popular additions include long beans, eggplant, pineapple chunks, and lady’s fingers.

5. Serve with traditional accompaniments

5. Serve with traditional accompaniments

Traditionally, Assam Pedas is served with steamed rice or crusty bread to soak up the flavorful gravy. You can also serve it with a side of sambal belacan (chili shrimp paste condiment) and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro for added freshness.

By following these tips and trying different variations, you can create your own unique and delicious Assam Pedas that suits your taste buds.

Add a comment