Pindang Iwak or Pindang Ikan Palembang

Pindang Iwak or Pindang Ikan dish is known from in Palembang, South Sumatra.  It’s usually made from a river (freshwater) patin (similar to pangasius or basa) fish or baung (a Hemibagrus genus, a fish genus relative to catfish).  In Indonesia, the province of South Sumatra, Riau and South Kalimantan are very popular for its freshwater fish dishes.

When I feel, I need to spark up my tastebuds but I don’t want spending too much time in the kitchen.  This Pindang Iwak is one of the dishes that came up in my mind.  Sweet, tangy, a bit spicy and umami are the four elements of taste that will you get from this Pindang Ikan.  Spicy level can always be adjusted accordingly.  

I’m very picky towards freshwater fish.  Just because I don’t like the taste of basa or pangasius here, I chose to source Canadian freshwater fish; Lake whitefish.  Lake whitefish is the prime commercial species of the upper Great Lakes fishery.  The fish has delicately flavoured fresh fish.


Pinadang Iwak or Pindang Ikan Palembang
Indonesian (Palembang) Fish Soup

1 whole Canadian lake whitefish (about 1.3 kg – fish has no guts anymore); scaled, rinsed and cut
5.08 cm (2 inches) length galangal, bruised
2 lemongrass, take the white parts only and bruised
3 Indonesian bay (salam) leaves
3 red chilies, angle cut
10 bird eye’s chilies or Thai red chilies
1/4 part of pineapple, cubed
2 teaspoons palm sugar (gula aren)
2 medium green tomatoes (or 4 green cherry tomatoes), quartered
5 tablespoon tamarind water (2 teaspoon tamarind pulp and soak in 5 tablespoon warm water)
a handful of kemangi (Indonesian lemon basil)
2 L water
seasalt to taste
canesugar to taste (optional)

Spices to be ground (do not grind too smooth-roughly chopped):

  • 8 small shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 deseeded red chilies
  • 3 cm length ginger
  • 2 cm length turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon roasted terasi (fermented shrimp paste)

Ingredients Pindang Iwak


  1. At a medium high heat, prepare a pot and water.  Add roughly ground spices in and stir.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Once it’s boiled, add galangal, lemongrass and salam leaves.  Bring to another boil.
  3. Stir in cut and whole chilies, green tomatoes, pineapple slices, tamarind water, palm sugar, and salt.  Place in fish pieces.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for another 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
  5. Remove from heat and add kemangi leaves.  Correct the taste by adding salt or sugar if you need to.  Serve with warm cooked rice.


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