Saltfish Pickle


200g salted kurau, soaked for one to two hours and cut into 2cm-thick pieces
(Drain well on absorbent kitchen towel and dry in the sun for two hours or until completely dry)

5cm ginger, ground
5 cloves garlic, ground
2 tbsp chilli paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder (jintan putih)
1/2 tsp fennel powder (jintan manis)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (biji sawi), fried without oil and pounded
1/4 tsp fenugreek (halba), pounded
5 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 stalks curry leaves, use leaves only
50ml good quality rice vinegar
50ml tamarind juice (from 25g tamarind mixed with 100ml water)

3 to 4 tbsp sugar or to taste
A pinch of salt or to taste


Heat enough oil in a wok to deep-fry salted fish slices until golden brown. Drain well and set aside.

Heat 4 tbsp oil and stir-fry sliced shallots and garlic until limp. Add mustard seeds, fenugreek and curry leaves and saute until fragrant. Add the rest of the spice ingredients and stir-fry well.

Blend in vinegar, tamarind juice and sugar. Bring to a boil then simmer until gravy is thick and the oil has separated.

Cool the gravy then stir in salted fish pieces. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds. Dish out and keep in clean, dry bottles.

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