Assam Fish

Craving… a wonderful feeling to have when you can satisfy that but a torture when you can’t. I have had this huge craving for Assam fish for quite a long time now which I had been trying to put out of my mind, without much success (like me trying to lose weight – I only ended gaining more instead of losing 😛). Fish is not my specialty – as you all remember the last time when I tried cooking fish, it didn’t turned out quite right. ☹️ So I try to avoid cooking anything that has scales and swim…but darn it, this Assam Fish soon started to even haunt me in my sleep – yes, I dreamed that I was happily slurping up the sauce and relishing on the fish! So I said to myself “come on, are you going to let a dead fish intimidate you for the rest of your life. A cooking ninja would never cower from a challenge.” So I got 3 lovely fish the next day for dinner. First I gave my fishes a royal treatment – frontal and back massage with salt, then I had a little pep talk with them. I looked at them right into their eyes (not easy when they have one on each side) and said “Ok fish, I’m going to give you a nice aromatic spa treatment of lemon grass, galangal & other spices right now and you are going to come out smelling so good and tasting so sweet.”

Assam Fish

Assam fish ingredients

  1. Clean the fish and season it with salt or light soya sauce.
  2. Prepare the tamarind marinade: soak the tamarind pulp in 120 ml of warm water for 5 minutes. Squeeze the seeds and fiber with your fingers to extract as much juice and flavor as possible. Strain and discard fibers.
  3. Heat wok with oil till hot, stir-fry the chili paste for a minute medium heat till fragrant.
  4. Add water to the paste, stir to mix it well.
  5. Stir in the tamarind juice (according to your taste of sourness).
  6. Season it with light soya sauce or salt and a little bit of sugar .
  7. Put in the fish to cook when you are about ready to serve dinner. This is to avoid overcooking the fish. The fish is cooked once its eyes popped.
  8. Serve it with rice and a plate of vegetables by the side.
The Verdict

I was so darn excited that I managed to get my assam fish right and it tastes just like my mom’s version (well, I still think mom’s cook the best Assam fish). The sauce is very aromatic – the mackerel heightens the flavour of the sauce – great tasting of the spices mix with a spicy tint and a slight sourness – taste just right and it really opens up one’s appetite. I love topping my rice with the sauce. My sister-in-law loves it, Pierre was less enthusiastic as he is not a big fan of fish to begin with.

Assam Fish


I usually can make a big bowl of the paste, fry them till fragrant and then keep them in the refrigerator for later use. It comes in very handy when I have to do a last minute dinner entertainment. All I need to do is just defrost and the paste is ready.

I recently learned another new trick from my local Asian store lady – you can actually store the unused portion of galangal by slicing them into pieces, freeze them, then put them all in a plastic bag in the freezer. When in need, just take out the number of pieces you need for cooking.