• Aidah Abd Rahman

Asam Pedas and Kg Sg Melayu, Johor Bahru

The Asam Pedas dish needs no introduction in Johor as it is perhaps one of the most popular dishes in the state. Most good homes and any restaurant worth its salt would serve this delicacy for lunch and dinner.

To those who are not familiar, the Asam Pedas dish is HOT and not for the faint-hearted. To summarise it, it is your favourite fish cooked in a concoction of blended dried chili, onions, turmeric, and dried shrimp paste that is first fried until fragrant. Water is then added to your liking and the concoction is gently let to boil to perfection. A generous portion of the aromatic herb ‘Daun Kesum’ (Persicaria Odorata) must be added to the dish to give it its unique taste and aroma, and finally, some tamarind juice to taste. I keep some young Kesum leaves for decoration and put them on top of the dish, just before serving.

However, when I’m not playing kitchen goddess, I enjoy Asam Pedas at Restoran Sri Panti at Kg Sungai Melayu. The breezy, authentic, on-stilts seafood restaurant not only serves one of the most delicious Asam Pedas around this area, but also offers a majestic view of the sprawling green mangrove forest that invites the appearance of migratory and local birds of Medini. Far beyond the green lung and the calm water, one can see modern residential towers rise to the sky in the capital city of Johor Bahru.

Most Asam Pedas ordered in restaurants use Red Snapper (Ikan Merah), Stingray (Ikan Pari), and Eel-tail Catfish (Sembilang) – they seem to be the most popular fish for the dish, anyway. The hot and slightly sour soup is enjoyed with plain white rice, and often accompanied by other side dishes such as deep dried prawn, fried squid in light batter, Malaysian Omelette ‘Telur Dadar’, Kangkung Goreng, stir-fried vegetables, and another local specialty, steamed Green Mussels (Kupang).

In the morning, the nearby jetty is always buzzing with fishing activities and scores of tourists enjoying eco-tourism tours, but at night, the restaurant comes alive with its colourful decorative lighting that is effortlessly mirrored by the water.

You can find Restoran Sri Panti on Waze and Google Maps, and while you’re in the vicinity, don’t forget to get some local cookies, chips, and most importantly, the homemade shrimp paste ‘Belacan’ that is a must when trying to duplicate this dish at home!

For bookings (advisable), please Whatsapp or call Ms Ina at +6018775 6191.

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