Tempoyak Ikan Patin (Patin in Fermented Durian Paste)

Before we go further explaining about this dish, let's start with the description of tempoyak first. So, what is tempoyak?

Well, tempoyak is a Malay condiment made from fermented durian. Tempoyak is made by taking the flesh of durian, then mixing it with some salt and keeping it in room temperature for three or five days for fermentation. Tempoyak is not usually eaten just like that, it's usually eaten as a side dish or as an ingredients for cooking such as gulai tempoyak ikan patin or ikan tempoyak. Tempoyak is specifically popular in the state of Pahang and Perak in Malaysia.

Fermented Durian Paste (Tempoyak)
Fermented Durian Paste (Tempoyak)

The History Behind the Creation

Pahang food features a lot of seafood. From its rivers and lakes come the fresh water fish such as the patin fish (silver catfish).

One of the most famous dishes in Pahang is Ikan Patin Masak Tempoyak. This a traditional dish, popular in the inland riverine areas where the patin fish (silver catfish) is found in abundance especially in the Pahang river. Large catfish cooked in various ways such as gulai and asam pedas. If you come to Temerloh -- the home of the Patin -- then this Ikan Patin Masak Tempoyak dish can be found in most of the restaurants and food-courts in the town.

The ikan patin masak tempoyak dish is not that complicated to cook, except that the durian paste or tempoyak must be available as it gives the special flavour and hence the name of the dish.

The durian is a seasonal fruit in pahang, but the tempoyak (durian paste) can last for many months. Many rural Malay households keep the tempoyak in big bottles for use during cooking.

Patin in Fermented Durian Paste
Patin in Fermented Durian Paste

The Recipe for Tempoyak Ikan Patin

Cuisine: Malaysia
Serving: 5 people
Prep/cook time: 20 minutes

1) 1kg Patin (cleaned and cut into 4-5 pieces)
2) 500ml water
3) A few red chillies
4) A few bird's eye chillies
5) 1 turmeric leaf (tied into a knot)
6) 2-3 tbsp fermented durian (tempoyak)
7) 1-2 tbsp salt and sugar

1) Grind the red chillies, bird’s eye chillies, turmeric, 2 tablespoons of tempoyak into a paste.
2) Add the paste, water, turmeric leaf and another 2 tablespoons tempoyak into a pot. Bring to a boil on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring the sauce every once in a while. Add the fish into the sauce and lower the heat.
3) Add sugar to taste and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Once the fish is cooked, it is ready to be served.
4) Tip: To prepare homemade tempoyak, simply add salt to durian flesh (without the seeds). For every cup of durian flesh, add a tablespoon of salt. Keep ovenright in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Give it a stir the next day replace the lid and leave for 3 to 4 days. The tempoyak is now ready. Chilled tempoyak can be kept for up to a few months. If it turns too sour for your taste, add fresh durian flesh.

Video Demonstrations

Tempoyak Ikan Patin
Tempoyak Ikan Patin (Pahang Style)

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