Yellow Acar Mackerel Recipe (Acar Kuning Ikan Kembung)

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I still remember the day when I bought ikan kembung (short-body mackerel) at Dong Thai. At that time, I wasn’t sure if those fish are kembung, since they were labeled as hasa-hasa. It is a name in Bikol. According to wikipedia, Bikol or Bicolano is an Austronesian language used in the Philippines particularly on the Bicol Peninsula on the island of Luzon. Bikol Central, or commonly known as Bicol Naga, is the standard language of this kind and is understood by most Bikol speakers. Anyway, I encouraged my self to buy, by seeing the fish shape, I was pretty sure they were Kembung.

After I was at home, I looked up on the internet what hasa-hasa is. I was right hasa-hasa is what the Indonesians call for kembung, also known as short mackerel or Indian mackerel in English. Kembung (Rastrelliger brachysoma) is a family of Scombridae (mackerels, tunas, bonitos), subfamily of Scombrinae. They live in the Pacific ocean, Andaman sea to Thailand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Fiji.

There is so many version of Ikan Acar Kuning (fish in yellow spicy and sour spices) recipe. I finally found a recipe that perfect for my kembung. I adapted the recipe from mbak Ine (my multiply’s contact). In her recipe, she used tenggiri (English: king mackerel), I also substituted the vinegar for fresh lime juice. The different between her recipe and others is by adding daun temurui. Daun temurui is usually used in Acehnese culinary, daun temurui is also known as daun salam koja or daun kari in bahasa Indonesia, or curry leaves in English.

Daun Temurui
(bahasa Indonesia: daun salam koja, daun kari; English: curry leaves)


500 gram short mackerel/Indian mackerel (Indonesian: kembung), cut a half
1 tbsp tamarind juice (combine 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp and 1 1/2 tbsp very warm water)
1 cloves garlic, grind (it can be substituted for garlic powder)
1/2 tsp salt1 lime, squeeze to get the juice
1 lemon grass, bruised
2 kaffir lime leaves
10 daun temurui (curry leaves)
2 cm fresh galangal, crushed
salt and sugar to season as desired
oil for deep frying and sauteing
water as desired
12 whole bird’s eye chilies
1 long red pepper, angle sliced
1 long green pepper, angle sliced
12 shallots, halvedGround Spices
4 candlenuts
5 cloves garlic
6 shallots
1/2 tsp whole corriander seed
3 cm fresh turmeric ( it can be substituted for ground turmeric)
3 cm fresh ginger

1. Rub fish with tamarind juice, garlic and salt. Marinate for 15 minutes. Deep fry until golden brown. Set aside.

2. Stir fry ground spices, daun temurui, lemon grass, and galangal in a small amount of oil until fragrant.

3. Add water, lime juice, salt and sugar, bring to a boil. Add whole bird’s eye chilies, slices of long red pepper and long green pepper, and shallots.

4. Cook until all chilies and shallots wilted, add fish, stir evenly. Serve with warmed rice.

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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.