Fermented Fish (Ikan Pekasam)
Fermented Fish (Ikan Pekasam) is a traditional food that uses the method of preserving fish (fermentation process) along with salt and tamarind pieces. Fish commonly used are freshwater fish such as Talapia.
In Malaysia, the production of Fermented Fish (Ikan Pekasam) is concentrated at the northern end of the Malaysian peninsula in states such as Perlis, Kedah, Perak and the Bornean state of Sarawak. Nowadays, thin beef strips, chicken, mutton and squid are also used to make pekasam in Malaysia instead of fish. Unlike the fish pekasam, these variants are frozen after preparation and can last up to six months. In Malaysia fish pekasam is usually consumed deep-fried or prepared as a side dish that goes well with rice.
Let’s Make A Fried Fish Pekasam With Sambal Belacan (Spicy Shrimp Paste Sauce)
- 1 pack of fish pekasam (the amount to use is up to you)
- 4 oz. (115 g) seeded chilies, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon belacan, shrimp paste
- 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons Calamansi lime juice or lime juice
- Salt to taste
For Fermented Fish
Pour some oil in a pan and pan-fry the fish pekasam. Pan-fry both sides and drain them for excess oil on a paper towel.
For Sambal Belacan
- Clean chilies with running water, seeded and sliced. Transfer the chilies to a mortar.
- Heat up a wok or pan on low heat and “toast” the belacan until aromatic. The texture of the belacan would turn dry and powdery after toasting. Transfer out and add to the chilies and start pounding with the pestle until fine. (Some people like their sambal belacan somewhat coarse so it’s personal preference.)
- Transfer out to a bowl, add salt and sugar to taste and add lime juice (or Calamansi lime juice). Blend well. You can keep the sambal in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or freeze in the freezer for a longer period.
Now enjoy the pan-fried fish pekasam with the sambal belacan along with steaming rice. It is a marriage made in heaven.
Note: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a mini food processor to grind everything. If you like extra fiery kick in your sambal, you can add a few bird’s eye chilie.