Ikan Pindang is a way to preserve the fish in Indonesia which I see very close to brining process. Brining fish and seafood is a great technique to flavour fish and seafood as the ocean itself is a sort of the original brine. Since fish and seafood are delicate, they can easily dry out if we overcook them, so brining will help our fish and seafood stay moist and flavourful.
Different nations have different ingredients for brining but the the most important thing is the salt and water. I didn’t exactly mean to make homemade ikan pindang until I want to make kuah pindang (fish brine stock) in order to make Rujak Kuah Pindang Bali (Bali style Fruit Rujak with Fish Brine Stock)
In Indonesia, there are 3 different ways of making Ikan Pindang.
1. Pindang garam (Salt Pindang): a way of brining fish by rubbing cleaned fish with salt or stack the fish in a pot or wok with layer of salt in between, then boil.
2.Pindang air garam (Saltwater Pindang): rub the cleaned fish with salt then place on a colander or dried banana leaves. Place the colander/dried banana leaves in a pot that is filled with saturated salt and water solution.
3.Pindang duri lunak (Pressured Cook Pindang): rub the cleaned fish with salt and cook in a pressure cooker. This way will result tender bones fish so you can eat the bones as well.
In Java area, when we make pindang we will need salt, water and dried banana leaves. However in Bali, people add lemongrass and Indonesian bay (salam) leaves to fragrant the water. So the leftover liquid from brining can be used for stock to make Rujak Kuah Pindang (Fruit Rujak with Fish Brine Stock).
The common fishes to be used for pindang are sardines (in Indonesia there are different type of sardines which are known into different names such as ikan sarden, ikan lemuru or ikan tembang), tuna, and mackerel (ikan kembung). When you make Kuah Ikan Pindang from sardines or ikan lemuru, the stock will result a stronger aroma and taste also more murky compare to kuah ikan pindang from tuna.
500g (1.1 lbs) sardines (ikan sarden, ikan lemuru), scaled and guts removed, cleaned thoroughly
2 tablespoons seasalt or kosher salt
3 Indonesian bay (salam) leaves
3 lemongrasses, take the white parts and bruised
800mL (3.5 cups) water
Rub seasalt on fish.
In a pot, heat up the water at medium high heat. Add fish, lemongrass and Indonesian bay (salam) leaves. Bring to a boil for 15-30 minutes until fish is cooked, the liquid has reduced about 50 percent and quite murky.
Taste the fish stock. If you need more salt you can add more. At this step, you can remove the fish out and drain the liquid for stock. Ikan Pindang and kuah pindang are ready for next process.
Cook’s Note: Once the fish is removed from the pot, you basically ready to enjoy ikan pindang with sambal and rice. However, if you want crispier result you can always broil the ikan pindang.