Recipe: Ikan kuah lada - Fish in peppery gravy

This is a delicious Indonesian fish recipe. It's not hard to make this dish for yourself.

Serves: 5 - 6
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes


  • 90 ml (3 fl oz) cooking oil
  • 750 ml (24 fl oz) tamarind juice, extracted from 50 g tamarind pulp and 750 ml water
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • pinch of seasoning powder
  • 2 medium aubergines, quartered lengthways, then cut into 5-cm (2-inch) pieces and soaked in water
  • 600 g (1 lb) Spanish mackerel or stingray, cleaned and cut into 2½-cm (1-inch) thick pieces

Finely ground paste

  • 18 shallots, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 candlenuts
  • 5 cm (2 inches) fresh turmeric, peeled
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, sliced (use only the bottom tender inner part)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed dried shrimp paste
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper or 15 white peppercorns
  • 2½ cm (1 inch) galangal, peeled


  1. Heat the cooking oil and fry the finely ground paste until fragrant.
  2. Pour in tamarind juice. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add the salt and seasoning powder. Simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Add aubergines and cook for 4 minutes.
  5. Add fish and cook for another 8 minutes.
  6. Serve with spicy shrimp paste (sambal belado for instance).

Note: If you prefer a more sourish gravy, double the amount of tamarind pulp. You can garnish this dish with scallions and sliced red chilie, if desired.

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