Fish Simmered in Fragrant Soy (Pindang Kecap)


• 500 g ( 1 lb) white fish fillets, such as snapper, perch or bream
• 5 shallots, skins left on 2 cm ( ¾ in) fresh turmeric root, washed, skin left on
• 1 ½ cm ( ¾ in) fresh ginger root, washed, skin left on
• 2 ½ cm ( 1 in ) galangal root, peeled and sliced
• 2 fresh or dried salam leaves (optional)
• 1 stalk lemongrass, tender inner part of bottom third only, bruised
• 60 mL ( ¼ cup) tamarind juice
• 2 tablespoons sweet Indonesian soy sauce
• 2 red finger-length chilies, cut in lengths
• 3-4 whole bird’s eye chilies, lightly bruised
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons palm sugar or soft brown sugar
• 750 mL ( 3 cups) water
• 5 small sour carambola, halved lengthwise

• 1 tablespoon lime juice
• 1 teaspoon white vinegar
• 1 teaspoon salt

1. Wash the fish. Place the Marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Rub the fish fillet on both sides with the Marinade ingredients and set aside.
2. Place the shallots, turmeric and ginger into a dry wok or frying pan and dry-roast them, turning frequently until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Peel the shallots and bruise the turmeric and ginger with a pestle of the side of a cleaver.
3. Combine the roasted shallots, turmeric and ginger with the galangal, salam leaves, lemongrass, tamarind juice, soy sauce, chilies, salt, palm sugar and water in a wide saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes
4. Drain the fish pieces and discard the Marinade. Add the fish and the carambola to the saucepan with the sauce. Simmer until the fish is cooked, about 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Serve hot with rice.