Arsik Recipe (Spiced Carp with Torch Ginger and Andaliman – Mandailing Style)

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Arsik is basically a stewed fish dish that is spiced up with torch ginger (kecombrang). My visit to Indonesia has made me more aware about two different recipes of Arsik. For so long, I’ve known Arsik is spiced up with torch ginger and andaliman (a family of Szechuan pepper) which is known as Batak Toba and Mandailing style one. Then another Indonesian foodie who is originally from Batak Karo introduced me another recipe of Karonese Arsik. Her version has no andaliman and bawang batak (lokio, ) included. Beside adding the flower of torch ginger; Karo-style Arsik also adds the fruits of torch ginger which is called as asam cekala. I also noticed this Mandailing style has more influenced from Minang (Padang) cuisine by adding turmeric leaves and asam kandis (garnicia fruit family) instead of asam cekala. For your information, batak is an ethnic group from North Sumatra province. This ethnic group is divided into some different sub-ethnic groups such as Karo, Mandailing and Toba.

This arsik pic wasn’t cooked by me but it was a requested food by me when teh Nicke was asking me, “Pepy what do you want?” She knew that the only thing I would prefer have this time was an authentic Indonesian Food. I immediately replied, “Arsik”. Thou, teh Nicke is a Sundanese descendant she is a well-known cook for Batak food.

This Arsik picture was taken at Sudirman Park apartment in Jakarta while these trio Indonesian bloggers, teh Nicke, teh Emmy and Nely came to visit me. I just shot the food and shared the recipe in English with teh Nicke permission. If you prefer read in Indonesian, you can visit Au coin de ma Cuisine.

Spiced Carp with Torch Ginger and Andaliman

2 red carps about 600-800 grams each

Ingredients:Spices for a Paste:
15 shallots (or 8 shallots for a larger size)
5 cloves garlic
8 toasted candlenuts
15 red cayenne peppers
5-cm gingerroot, peeled
3-cm young galangal
10-cm white part of 10 lemongrasses
3-cm turmeric root, peeled
1 teaspoon ground toasted coriander

Other Spices:
6 Indonesian bay leaves
4 turmeric leaves
3-cm old galangal, bruised
10 lemongrass, bruised (the white parts have been separated for making ground paste above)
3-5 torch ginger, bruised
20-25 pieces andaliman (can be substituted for Sichuan pepper), bruised
150 grams bawang Batak (lokio, Allium Chinense G.Don)
2 pieces asam kandis
2 medium tomatoes, grated
sea salt as desired

1. In a heavy dutch oven, stack a half part of bruised lemongrass, torch ginger, topped with a half part of Indonesian bay leaves and turmeric leaves.

2. Fill 1/4 part of spice paste inside the fish belly. Rub 1/2 part of the spice surround the fish. Place fish on top of stacked spices inside the dutch oven. Pour the remaining spice paste and sprinkle andaliman over. Throw asam kandis, the remaining Indonesian bay leaves and turmeric leaves in. Add a small amount of water, just enough water. Don’t make the fish submerged.

3. Cover with the lid and cook at a low heat. About a half done/cooked, place lokio and grated tomatoes over. Put the lid back.

4. Cook until the water evaporates about 1-2 hours. While it’s cooking, do not flip over the fish. Once it’s cooked. Remove from the heat and enjoy!

Other recipes with torch ginger or andaliman:
Balinese sambal bongkot
Mandailing style gulai ubi tumbuk (crushed cassava leaves curry)
Andaliman sambal

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About the Author

An Indonesian-born who lived in Winnipeg Edmonton, Canada for more than a decade prior to move to Edmonton in 2017. Indonesia Eats is a memoir of her homeland.