Recipe : Acar fish (tumeric)

This is the kind of dish that gets better if kept overnight. But it is so good, usually, there isn’t enough leftovers. You may find them from economy rice stalls but usually, the home-cooked version is better because there are less oil and the gravy is thick and not watery.


600 grams of any type of fish. Best is using those small fishes like kembong but I opted for tenggiri which is much easier to fry and eat too. Deep fry the fish and take out to drain off the oil.

2 bulbs of garlic – skin and slice thinly
1 large piece ginger – slice and cut till fine (ek, I don’t know the correct word to describe, but cut into thin threads-like, ok?)

Some red or green chillies, cut. I used green cili padi for the extra oomph.

1 tablespoon tumeric powder

2 tablespoon white vinegar

2 tablespoon sugar

A little water – Around half a cup

salt and some fish sauce

Method :

Fish had been deep fried.

To make sauce:

Heat some oil in wok, stir fry the garlic and ginger till fragrant but not burnt. Add in tumeric powder mixed with sugar, water, fish sauce and vinegar. Simmer and add in fish and cili. I like to add in the fish to simmer so that the flesh soaked in the gravy. But some people will keep the fish crispy and pour over it later.

Remember to taste and adjust the flavours accordingly. It has to have the piquant taste of vinegar with sugar, flavours of the tumeric and nicely rounded with the spiciness of the ginger, garlic and cili.

The garlic and ginger are lovely when simmered. I usually add in lots of garlic to enjoy with white rice later. This dish is extra lovely if kept overnight so do make extra portions for this purpose.

During my confinement, my mom cooked the same dish but minus the vinegar (white vinegar isn’t allow for post-natal moms but sweet, black vinegar is encourage) which is a great welcome from the mundane dishes served to post-natal moms. Tumeric and ginger are very good for post-natal moms, so do use them generously but not excessively. If you are not too lazy, using fresh tumeric will be extra delicious. It is a chore to clean up, though.

You can find the elaborate Nyonya recipe from Tourism Penang website. Note that there is a photo of this lady selling acar hu in Pulau Tikus market. I never bought it before so can’t tell if it is as good as mine! Hahaha. Seriously, the stuffs she sells are very good.

7 Replies to “Recipe : Acar fish (tumeric)”

  1. Kak lilian,
    My late paternal grandfather used to make these when I was younger… but he usually don’t add tumeric or fish sauce to it. And, he usually added whole shallots… yummy

  2. Hi Kak Lillian,

    I’ve tried the extended version….. there’s one makcik in kuala kerling used julienne cucumber and pineapple inside the recipe…. the result is perfect! 5 star class! Try it okay?

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