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


  1. Gleekkkh…*ngeces*
    Jadi kalo di sini nggak ada andaliman cocoknya aku masaknya versi Karo ya?? dari dulu udah pengen bikin tapi nggak ada bumbu satu itu jadi batal deh. Ternyata ada resep lain. Makasih sharingnya mbak, semoga sempat bikin juga…

  2. Hi Pepy! Although I haven’t tried this fish recipe before, I’m amazed by all these delicious flavors for the fish! Japanese cuisines rarely use spices and it’s always a new finding here and I enjoy learning about how to spice up the ingredients. Beautiful photography as always!

    • Nami, although Japanese food rarely uses many spices but I do enjoy it too. As Indonesian, I am still learning about many different varieties of Indonesian Foods which can be different from region to region.

  3. Looks very delish but I can’t find a few ingredients here in Florida like turmeric leaves, torch ginger, bawang batak, asam kandis. What can I use for substitutes that kinda resemble the flavors?
    Is there perhaps a mai-lorder house I can purchase these and other typical Indonesian ingredients?

    • Piet, turmeric leaves might be able to but at an online Indonesian store. Torch ginger will be hard to get. Bawang batak can be substituted for wild garlic. Please click on asam kandis, it will bring you to my post of the substitution.

    • This arsik wasn’t cooked by me as I stated earlier ๐Ÿ™‚ I shared the recipe in English and pic that I’ve taken with a permission of the owner

  4. You must be elated to finally get to use torch ginger in your dishes, Pepy! Such an inspiring way (spicy one too) to cook up fish. Wish we’d know more about Batak dishes when we visited Lake Toba.

    • Reese, I mentioned above that I didn’t cook this dish ๐Ÿ™‚ Whenever you need to learn about Batak cooking around Lake Toba I can refer you to somebody

  5. @[email protected]

    Perhaps English/Inggris is not your first language, you should read the article again…

    it was actually stated throughout the article and in replies to comments.. this dish was not prepared by, but shared by Pepy ๐Ÿ˜‰

    the best way to get to try local/indigenous cuisine is simply to avoid the hotel restaurants when your travelling ๐Ÿ˜‰ also getting to know a local helps ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hanya saran ya kak…coba deh masak arsik yang lain, aku harus tannya dulu resep arsik yg kmi sell buat dari. tidak pake tomat, dan andalimanya hrs tergiling halus spy getirnya terasa. Dan pake kacang panjang.

    • yg ini setau saya ala mandailing kl yg pk kacang panjang ala karo. correct me if im wrong. kalo punya resep yg lain silahkan dishare. Makasih ๐Ÿ™‚


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