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Recipes using Salted Fish

Salted fish is a very common ingredient in Malay cooking. Used to be regarded as poor people staple, ironically nowadays enjoys popularity due to "back to basic" awareness in Malay cuisine. It is versatile, can be simply deep fried or added in curry, with coconut cream sauce and other gravy.

Here are two popular dishes using salted fish or "ikan masin" :

Salted Fish Achar

This recipe is a popular side dish in northern states namely Perlis, Kedah and Penang. Cheap to make but gives such a boost of flavour to your steaming rice.

  • 500g dried ikan kurau
  • 2 tbs cumin (dry fry for 3 mins till fragrant, set aside)
  • 2 cloves whole garlic
  • 5 cm ginger
  • 30 dried chilies, soaked in hot water
  • 5 tbs oil
  • 4 tbs vinegar
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • A handful of curry leaves


  1. Wash and cut fish into 1 cm cubes
  2. Process cumin, garlic and dried chillies till smooth.
  3. Heat oil in a wok, fry the salted fish for 2-3 minutes, set aside
  4. Using the same cooking oil, add in the processed paste
  5. Cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add in fish, vinegar, sugar and curry leaves. Cook for 1 more minute
  7. Serve hot or cold

Achar kept in a bottle or achar stored in a Tupperware container and refrigerated, is good for at least 2 months. Let warm to room temperature before serving.

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