Assam Pelai (Tangy Fish Curry)


This Malaysian tangy, slightly sweet and spicy fish curry recipe will make your taste buds dance. The va-va-voom of this dish comes from the torch ginger flower. Known as bunga kantan in Malay, Malaysians use this flirtatious blushing red pinkish flower for curries, laksa and ulam/salads. For me, I like how it sounds in Thai – dalaa. Short, sweet and somehow a more appropriate name for this gorgeous herb. Split the flower bud and it will release an intriguing mix of delicate citrusy and peppery aroma.

Bunga Kantan/Torch Ginger Flower
Bunga Kantan/Torch Ginger Flower


Time to do the dishes. That is what you get for lodging longer than expected –  caught my mum sipping on her Bailey’s and happily left the dishes at the table. Pour moi.

Tamarind Skin


Level: Kinda easy


10 dried chilies, soaked

6 red chilies

3 cloves of garlic

Galangal, 2cm

10 shallots, peeled & cut

½ tablespoon of belacan/dried shrimp paste

Fresh turmeric, 2cm


4 tablespoons of tamarind paste combine with 1 cup of water


2 sprigs of laksa leaves/Vietnamese mint

1 bunga kantan/torch ginger flower, bud split

2 pieces of dried tamarind skin

2 stalks of lemongrass, slightly bruised

Threadfin fish or Mackerel, cleaned & cut

½ small pineapple, sliced



Chicken stock granules/cube

Garnish: Mint leaves.

First, blend everything in (A). Then gently combine the curry paste, water, lemongrass, laksa leaves, tamarind juice and tamarind skin in a pot over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, then gently simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes or so. Stir in pineapple slices and simmer for 10 minutes. Add in fish and season to taste. Simmer until fish is cooked. Garnish with mint leaves and serve with rice.