Sour Fish – Riau Style

Origin: Riau Mainland


  • 750 g Mackerel, cut in 3 cm thick or mackerel steak
  • 1 pc lime, halved
  • 5 pc large red chillies, de-seeded
  • 2 pc tomato, quartered
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar to taste
  • 400 ml water

Spices, finely sliced

  • 3 pc large red chillies, finely sliced
  • 6 pc shallots, finely sliced
  • 2 cm fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 5 pc kaffir lime leaf, finely sliced
  • 1 stem lemon grass, outer leaves discarded, finely sliced

Sour Fish – Riau Style

Here it a typical cuisine of Riau mainland Province: Ikan Cuka. Ikan Cuka literally means "vinegar fish". I don't know why this dish called it so, eventhough this recipe contains no vinegar/rice vinegar but lime juice. Maybe because it taste sour which is identic to vinegar's taste 😉
Note: Usually this dish made with Ikan Tenggiri or Narrow-Barred Spanish Mackerel but I replace it with common mackerel which available here in Germany.
It tastes also good. Of course you can take any sort of fish as your choice. If the fresh fish not available, using the frozen fish steak makes a good result as well.
The sauce tastes very tasty, doesn't matter what kind of fish you cook. Have a try and be surprised 😉


  • Clean the fish, rub with salt and a half of lime juice. Keep aside for 15 minutes. (Afterward, don't clean/rinse the fish with water)
  • Blend the deseeded large red chillies until smoooth. Put aside.
  • Heat 50 ml oil in a frying pan, fry the fish until golden brown.
  • Turn them over and keep frying until both side done. Set aside to drain.
  • Prepare all sliced spices and other ingredients.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok/shallow pan, sautee the sliced shallots until fragrant. (approx. 2 minutes)
  • Add the blended chillies and stir to mix.
  • Add sliced spices (chillies, ginger, kaffir-lime leaves and lemon grass). Sautee all the time until fragrant. (approx. 3-5 minutes)
  • Add 400 ml water & bring all to boil.
  • Add salt, ground pepper, nutmeg and sugar.
  • Add the sliced tomato and the remaining lime juice. Taste, add salt or sugar if necessary.
  • Add the fried fish into the pan & simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Make sure the fish are not overcooked.
  • Adjust the taste with salt & sugar if necessary. Stir to mix & remove from heat. Serve hot.
Keyword fish, Riau

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