30-Minutes or Less!/ Recipes: Non-Vegetarian

Asam Pedas: Malay-style Hot & Sour Fish Curry

As I sat through my umpteenth screening of the esteemed love triangle, I felt a sudden pang hit me. No, I could swear it wasn’t butterflies in my stomach as Shahrukh and Kajol romanced around trees. It was something much greater, much more dignified. A quick glance at the clock and my fears were confirmed. Yes, hunger pangs, that’s what they were – and this Asam Pedas fish curry was calling out to me! But I was too into the better half of the movie to trot into the kitchen and make myself a bite. Then, like any miracle that never fails to take your breath away, I heard the all-too-famous tune crop up in the background. Yes! The two love birds were about to break into a song-and-dance number. Thank goodness for good ‘ol Bollywood movies where love is not love until the fat lady (or in Bollywood’s case, anyone) sings!

Recipe for Hot & Sour Fish Curry taken from www.hookedonheat.com. Visit site for detailed recipe.

Okay then, so I had myself five minutes to fix me up a meal or worse yet, work through one, considering how long it would take the two to declare their love through sweet melody. With only a few minutes to spare, I had to pace myself well. Whatever I was going to do had to be fast, and with the use of as limited ingredients as possible. A quick peek into my fridge and I knew just what I wanted! It was perfect. I was sure I could wing it. I would do the chopping as the fish sat in a quick marinade. Then I would let it rest and do its own thing until the next song, which as per my calculation, should come up in the next ten minutes. Perfect. Just perfect.

Speaking of perfection, this Asam Pedas, which is a Malay-inspired fish curry is definitely one of my favourites.

So much so, that it was sure to be on the menu whenever I would come home for the holidays during my days in college. With just a few ingredients and even lesser of an effort, it’s amazing how wonderfully delicious this dish is. Trust me, you’ll want to make extra since no one, and I mean NO ONE, can resist asking for seconds!

Coming back to the meal at stake, just as expected, I was about to sprint back into the kitchen after 10 minutes and continue with the cooking process. Another movie break while it simmered, and by the time Shahrukh broke into another jig, I served myself a big bowl. Now, whoever said multi-tasking was hard to achieve, definitely never tried it my way!

Asam Pedas (Malay-style Hot & Sour Fish Curry)

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 4
Author: Meena, www.hookedonheat.com


  • 3 tbsp light cooking oil
  • 1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 5-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • water as needed
  • 3 boneless tilapia fillets (or any other firm white fish of choice) cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • fresh cilantro leaves finely chopped for garnish


  • Heat oil in a deep pan and add mustard seeds, curry leaves, and garlic and let it start to sizzle. Add in sliced onions and let brown slightly.
  • Toss in spices, chopped tomatoes and salt, and stir-fry for a few minutes till tomatoes begin to soften and pulp.
  • Add in a cup of water, cover with a lid and let it come to a slight boil. Add in fish pieces and continue to cook for a few more minutes till fish is almost cooked through.
  • Stir in tamarind paste and cook covered for another 3-4 minutes till the fish has soaked in all the flavours. You can add in a bit water at this point depending on the consistency of the curry you'd prefer.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and serve warm over steamed rice.

This post was originally published in April 2007 and has been recently updated.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you will surely love my Shrimp Sambal, Coconut Fish Curry and Ginger Shrimp Stir-fry recipe as well.

Tried this recipe? Leave a Comment and let me know, also Rate it by clicking the number of stars on the recipe card. Want to share your version with me? Tag me on Instagram @hookedonheat

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  • Reply
    June 20, 2020

    5 stars
    I just tried this recipe and loved it!! It was simple enough to prepare and not spicy, so my kids really enjoyed it. Really thank you!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2020

    5 stars
    I love fish curry and my mother’s recipes are always good. As much as I love the dish, I hardly make it here in the US because I can’t find the fish I wanted–they are either the wrong kinds or they are stale.

    You fish curry looks like the ones I usually get at Mamak (Indian-Muslim) restaurants/stalls in Penang. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy eating.

  • Reply
    Shelley Hennig
    January 11, 2012

    5 stars
    Lovely recipe! This packed a lot of punch, but was still delicious. I’m still rather new to the world of Indian food. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    December 19, 2010

    5 stars
    I am so glad that i came across your website. I’ve been looking for these kind of recepies for a longtime. Ever since I tried a fusion of Indian/ Chinese cuisine back at home i’ve beem hooked. Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Nidhi Rajgopal
    December 7, 2010

    5 stars
    I tried this fish recipe and it was amazing. I don’t cook seafood often but, your step by step instruction helped a lot. Cant wait to try some of your other recipe’s.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2010

    5 stars
    Hey Meena, I tried this dish fr my mum yest…it turned out great! thanks for this simple but delicious curry ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    April 3, 2008

    5 stars
    meena , The curry looks divine. I have bookmarked it .

  • Reply
    July 18, 2007

    I love reading about this curry. I love cooking as well. But never cooked or ate non-veg until few months ago. Now since i am eating it, so I was browsing internet for some quick and easy reciepes. Thanks! BTW my name is also Meenakshi

  • Reply
    April 18, 2007

    5 stars
    Hey Meena, The fish curry turned out wonderful. Thanks for the recipe as always. I can’t wait for your next one. I always peek into your blog before going grocery shopping ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    April 17, 2007

    5 stars
    You moved fast with fish curries. I just made your one-pot fish curry wonder, and you are already at hot and sour curry. Made some very very slight modifications though, just because I did not have most of the leaves-ingredients on hand. But I tell ya, it’s really a one-pot-wonder (in your words). I just posted it today! Thanks for the easy yet tasty recipe. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply
    April 15, 2007

    5 stars
    Hey Meena, this recipe looks awesome. I am a big Salmon fan living in West coast. I will try this recipe this week ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Reply
    April 10, 2007

    5 stars
    Yum. That looks so delicious and anything that can be cooked during Bollywood song sequences gets my vote!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2007

    5 stars
    I will definitely be trying this one out Meena – can’t wait! Am looking forward to the next Indian 101 instalment also! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    April 9, 2007

    5 stars
    Meena I have been a regular reader here and have tried quite a few of your recipes. Last night i tried your Paneer Makhani and wowed the family! Thanks so much for sharing these recipes! I am a gujarati girl but LOVE trying out Punjabi fare and the paneer makhani was real yummy!!! thanks much for all the goodies on this site!

  • Reply
    Monika Korngut
    April 7, 2007

    5 stars
    Wow, I’m very impressed, cooking, chopping, watching a movie, and a perfect dish. I never had curry fish but it sounds amazing!! I love it. I will be sure to try it.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2007

    5 stars
    Yes, yes, yes! To the Bollywood movie and the fish curry. My absolute favourite meal is curried fish. I am definitely going to try your Malay version.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2007

    5 stars
    Fantastic website and your writing and recipes gave me the courage to start cooking; thanks!

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