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Malaysian Nyonya Recipe : Nyonya Assam Gulai

Fish in Spicy Tamarind Juice - this is a Nyonya Dish



  • 2 dried tamarind slices
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • Water


  • 3 stalks lemon grass, thinly sliced
  • ½ thumb-sized piece turmeric
  • 20 dried chilies or 2 to 3 tbsp chili paste
  • 20 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste


  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp MSG
  • 2 stalks bunga kantan, halved lengthwise

  • 1 to 1 ½ tbsp tamarind with 2 pints water, squeezed and strained
  • 11 oz ladies fingers
  • 22 oz prawns or fish head, trimmed and washed


  1. Cut away the stems of the lady’s fingers before halving them.
  2. Boil A in a saucepan. Put in the lady’s fingers and boil till tender (10 to 15 minutes). Drain and set aside.
  3. Grind B to a fine paste.
  4. Heat 4 fl oz. oil in wok and fry paste till oil bubbles through, stir constantly.
  5. Stir in C and some of the tamarind water.
  6. Cook for 1 minute, then add the rest of tamarind water and bring to boil. Cook for further 2 minutes. Do not cover wok.
  7. Put in the prawns or fish head and cook till done. Finally, add the lady’s fingers.

Note: to choose young and tender lady’s fingers, bend the ends to see if they snap easily. Those that do not break easily are tough and stringy.

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Last Modified: 11/27/11.