Acar Hu (fish pickle)
The other ingredients, like onion and garlic still impart their individual aromas. The deep-friend fish absorbs the gravy and becomes succulent and moist.
1 kg fish fillet or small whole fish (eg ‘chee ya hu’)
2 tsp salt (or according to taste)
Oil for deep frying the fish
30g (5cm) fresh turmeric root, sliced thinly
4 tbsp cooking oil
100g young ginger, sliced thinly
100g garlic, sliced thinly
30g (3) red chillies, seeded and quartered
30g (3) green chillies, seeded and quartered
8-10 tbsp sugar . . .
2 tsp salt, or according to taste
1 tbsp sesame seeds, roasted
Cili padi (depending on spiciness)
1. Clean and gut fish and season with salt and turmeric powder. Deep fry the fish until golden. Drain oil from fish and set aside. If you want a crunchier bite, you can fry the fish using a stronger flame.
2. Fry turmeric slices in 4 tbsp oil until the oil turns yellow. Discard the turmeric.
3. Using the turmeric oil, fry the ginger and garlic until golden brown. Leave aside to cool before adding the red and green chillies, vinegar, sugar and salt to taste.
4. Lastly, add in the fried fish. Serve garnished with sesame seeds.
Best served the next day as the flavours will develop overnight. If not consuming immediately, keep it submerged in the vinegar solution in a clean glass jar; it keeps well for about a week at room temperature and longer in the refrigerator.
If you want to opt for the simpler method of trying this dish, it is available at markets throughout Penang e.g. Pulau Tikus market and Air Itam market. Stalls which sell acar hu usually also carry other Nyonya dishes like perut ikan and otak-otak. Courtesy of Adrian Cheah, handed down to him from his mother, Aunty Patsy, a nyonya food connoisseur.
C-Right 2014 Langkawi Gazette