Salted Fish Acar

By Margarita Lee


250g good quality salt fish (Danau Salted Fish)
50g salted mackerel fish (mei xiang )
4 stalks curry leaves
Oil for deep-frying

Spice ingredients (A) – ground

5 shallots
5 cloves garlic
2cm fresh turmeric
3cm galangal, sliced
8 candlenuts
1cm square shrimp paste (belacan), toasted
15 dried chillies
10 red chillies
Salt and Sugar to taste 

Ingredients (B)

1 tbsp tamarind paste, mixed with 2 tbsp water and strained for juice
Pickle Shallots (C)
20 shallots ( clean and peeled)
250ml white rice vinegar
3 tbsp castor sugar or to taste
2 tsp salt 


  1. Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let the brine cool. Pour the cooled brine over the shallots in the jar and let it sit for 1-2 days.
  2. Rinse the salt fish and cut it into small cubes. With a knife or pestle, gently smash the salted fish. Deep-fry until golden and crispy, then remove and drain excess oil, leaving about 1/2 cup in the wok. Sauté the Mei Xiang  salted fish and curry leaves until fragrant.
  3. Add the ground spice ingredients and fry until the oil separates. Stir in the brine from the pickle shallots, ( brine only) tamarind juice, and sugars. Bring to a slow boil, then simmer for 10-12 minutes until the gravy thickens.
  4. Allow the gravy to cool thoroughly before adding the fried salt fish and pickled shallots.
  5. Store the salt fish acar in airtight glass jars. It’s ready to be consumed or can be left overnight for the flavors to develop.

Note :

Mei Xiang Salted Fish (梅香咸鱼) Ikan Masin Tenggiri origins from Guangdong province (广东省) in China. Mei Xiang Salted Fish is first fermented, after which it is cured using salt. Therefore, the meat is tender and has a distinctive aroma.

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