Assam fish

Back to the meals that I cooked for our overseas guests – for the first night, we had steamboat with the family, where all the fresh ingredients were prepared prior and we added several ingredients that we prepared on the day, such as swimmer crabs. One of the aunties helped with preparing that dish.

Today I am going to share with you an easy way to cook a Malaysian style assam fish curry. One of the quickest ways to get your dish out within half an hour is to have all the gravy and sauces made prior to cooking. You can prepare the curry pastes yourself, like most of my friends do, or you can stock up on all the readymade pastes.

For the fish, you can use either fish head, cutlets, or for me, I just love stingray or in Malaysian term – “ikan pari”. The reason is this is the fish that we used to have in Penang when we talked about fish curry. It taste great and the flesh is tender and delicate. On top of that, the price was very reasonable as well; it costs roughly between $5-$7 per kilo from the Fish Market in Sydney.

For the paste, I am using the readymade Nonya Assam Paste. Add 600ml of water to each packet of 250g paste. Each pack is good for 4 people (roughly).

This is what you need:


Half kilo okra (lady’s finger) – remove head and tail.
4 ripe tomatoes – cubed
1 large Brinjal /egg plant – cubed
2 kilo stingray / ikan pari – cut into small pieces (or any fish)
3 packets of Nonya Assam Pastes


  1. *Steam okra / ladies finger separately for 2 minutes until soft. Set aside.
  2. Mix 600ml water to 250g paste. So I’ve added 1.2litre** of water to 3 packets of Assam paste.
  3. Allow the paste to boil, add fish. Simmer for 5 minutes until fish*** is almost cooked, add tomatoes and egg plant. Continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes or until fish is cooked. Tune off the heat.
  4. Add okra to the dish and stir to mix well with the curry – no further cooking is needed.
  5. Serve hot with rice.

Number of people: 12
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Cook’s Notes:

* The reason we steam the okra instead of cooking them in the gravy is because okra tends to get slimy and sticky when you cook it. You avoid that by steaming.

** Normally you would need about 1.8litres of water for 3 packets of paste; however, I would recommend leaving the remaining 600ml of water to be added gradually after you taste it, as some of you may not need too much water depending on the fish you use. Also some people like the sauce thicker and more sourish. So add the remaining water according to your palate.

*** You can actually pan fry the fish prior to cooking. This is entirely up to you. When you pan fry, you need not boil the fish in the gravy, thus having a better chance of staying “intact” when you add it to the gravy.

About the Nonya Assam Curry Paste: This is an authentic recipe Assam paste from Penang. The taste is already there; you just need to add water and fresh ingredients. I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Enjoy the dish!

Nonya Assam Dish Nonya Assam Ingredients

Grab your ingredients:
4 ripe tomatoes – cubed
1 large Brinjal /egg plant – cubed
2 kilo stingray / ikan pari – cut into small pieces (or any fish)
3 packets of Nonya Assam Pastes

Grab your fresh food ingredients: