7 Traditional Pahang Recipes the World Should Know

Today is a special day for Malaysia. It is not just like any other public holiday. It is a day for rejoicing and celebration. It marks the day where His and Her Majesties, Sultan and Sultanah of Pahang, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah and Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah binti Almarhum Al-Mutawakkil Alallah Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj are crowned as the 16th Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong of Malaysia.

In conjunction with His and Her Majesties’ coronation today, we want to shine the spotlight on well-loved traditional Pahang dishes. These are delicious dishes that we personally feel the world should know about and eat on a regular basis.

Wild Flavours and Unconventional Pair-Ups

Pahang is the largest state situated somewhere in the eastern-central part of Peninsula Malaysia. Despite rapid modernization, most parts of Pahang are still thickly covered with lush rainforest. Fortunately, the jungles help to maintain the rich culture of the peoples living in the state.

Compared to other states, Pahang cuisine can be called wild and fresh, with a combination of flavours that some may see as unconventional. Well, that is the beauty of it. Using mainly food resources that can be found from the jungle, each district in Pahang has their very own take on what traditional Pahang cuisine should look and taste like.

Without further ado, here are seven traditional Pahang dishes that everyone should try.

1.Silver Cafish Cooked in Fermented Durian)

Credit: TTCT

People from Pahang love their catfish and it is definitely not surprising since there are many species of catfish that are native to the rivers there. It is absolutely mandatory, yes, mandatory for those who visit Pahang to try out their catfish dishes especially this catfish tempoyak dish from Temerloh. You may find the phrase ‘fermented durian’ unappealing but when it is prepared this way, you won’t be cringing about it anymore.

Ingredients:

a) To blend

  • 600g of silver catfish
  • 150g tempoyak or fermented durian flesh
  • 15g bird eye’s chillies
  • 2.5cm fresh turmeric

b) To slice finely

  • 2 torch ginger buds
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass
  • 2 stalks of polygonum leaves (daun kesum)
  • 2 turmeric leaves

c) Other Ingredients

  • Lime juice
  • Banana leaf
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Clean the fish and rinse thoroughly with lime juice. Drain well.
  2. Make several slits on the fish and rub thoroughly with a little salt.
  3. Combine blended ingredients with the sliced ingredients.
  4. Place fish on the banana leaf. Spread the ingredients on the fish, completely covering its surface. Wrap the fish with the banana leaf.
  5. Roast in a wide pan under medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until the fish has turn flaky, white and moist. Make sure to cover the pan so that the fish will cook faster.

2. Masak Lemak Ikan Salai (Smoked Fish in Coconut Milk Gravy) – Jerantut

Credit: Jalan Jalan Cari Makan

This traditional dish from Jerantut is just the stuff of dreams. The soft, flaky flesh of the catfish, cooked til tender in a spicy coconut broth is so comforting, especially after a hard day’s work when you need a special pick-me-up. Who would ever guess such a simple dish can make you experience a whole new world of flavours?

Ingredients:

a) Paste

  • 20g bird’s eye chillies
  • 2.5cm fresh turmeric
  • 1.25cm ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of course salt

b) Other Ingredients

  • 2 whole terbul barb, cleaned and smoked (or any other fish you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 cups of first-pressed coconut milk
  • 1 cup of second-pressed coconut milk
  • 4 pieces of sour slices (asam gelugor)
  • 150g of Bombay onions, cut into 6
  • 5 stalks of lemongrass, bruised
  • Salt and sugar to taste

Method:

  1. Add in 2 tablespoons of oil, the second-press coconut milk, the spice paste and the sour slices to a pot and let simmer to a boil over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the first-pressed coconut milk and stir occasionally to keep the oil from separating. Let simmer for 10 minutes until gravy is thickened.
  3. Add in the fish and onion chunks. Add in the salt and sugar to taste and allow to simmer over low heat until fish is cooked. You can add in some slices of pineapple for that slightly sweet tangy taste to balance out the spiciness of the chillies,

3. Braised Sea Snails

Credit: Amie’s Little Kitchen

Rompin is well known for its soup-based dishes especially the singgang or pindang which basically refers to a clear or slightly yellowish spicy soup with strong flavours of ginger and turmeric. It is perfect way of cooking shellfish. The spices in this dish removes the fishy, sandy smell of the shellfish and turns it into a refreshing appetiser.

Ingredients:

  • 400g sea snails or any shellfish you’d prefer
  • 10g bird’s eye chillies
  • 1/2cm galangal, sliced thinly
  • 1cm fresh turmeric, sliced thinly
  • 5 bilimbi fruits
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Soak the sea snails overnight to wash out of the sand. Clean by pounding them at the midriff using the back of the knife. The locals use the frond of the banana leaf.
  2. Cook all ingredients including the sea snails over low heat. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes until liquid boils and shellfish fully cooked. Season to taste.

4. Rendang Ikan Keli (Catfish Rendang) – Bentong

Credit: Intai Dapur

You may have heard of chicken and beef rendang but have you ever heard about catfish rendang? We told you, the people of Pahang love their catfish!

This special rendang dish is very popular in the Bentong district of Pahang. The best thing about it is that it has all the flavours of rendang we love so much but it does not take as long to prepare. Now, you can enjoy eating rendang anytime you feel like it.

Ingredients:

a) To Blend

  • 5 dried red chillies, soakedin hot water then deseeded
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, dry-fried until golden fragrant
  • 2.5cm fresh turmeric
  • 80g shallots
  • 25g garlic
  • 3.75cm ginger
  • 2.5cm galangal
  • 1 whole candlenut

b) Other Ingredients

  • 400g catfish, cleaned and left whole
  • 20g (10 nos) bird’s eye chillies
  • 25g palm sugar, shaved
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised
  • 4 1/2 cups of coconut milk
  • 5 kaffir leaves
  • 2 turmeric leaves, finely shredded
  • 1 piece of sour slice (asam gelugor)
  • 20-30 turkey berries
  • Juice squeezed from 4 kaffir limes
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Oil
  • Water

Method:

  1. Soak the fish in water and kaffir lime juice for a 5 minutes to remove the odour. Rinse and pat dry.
  2. Heat oil in wok over medium heat. Saute the blended ingredients and lemongrass over low heat until fragrant and oil surfaces.
  3. Add in coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, sour slice and palm sugar. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until gravy is thickened and oil surfaces then add the fish and turkey berries. Simmer for 5 minutes until the fish is cooked. Add sugar and salt to taste.
  4. Garnish with sliced turmeric leaves before serving.

5. Duck Egg Curry with Young Mango

People from the Pekan district of Pahang love simple dishes with rich flavours. They like to highlight the natural flavours of each of the ingredients used and this particular dish will show you what we mean.

Ingredients:

a) To Blend

  • 80g of shallots
  • 10g garlic
  • 20g bird’s eye chillies
  • 5cm turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

b) Other Ingredients

  • 1 young horse mango (bacang muda)
  • 4 ducks eggs
  • 5 cups of coconut milk
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass, bruised
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, pounded into powder
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Pare the mango and slice the flesh lengthwise. Soak in salted water to remove sap.
  2. Combine the blended ingredients with the sliced mango and coconut milk in a saucepan. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes and stir constantly to keep oil from surfacing or curdling.
  3. When boiled, remove from heat. Break eggs one at a time, into the curry. Allow the eggs to poach. Return to heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the eggs are cooked. Season to taste.

6. Paceri Mempelam Muda (Green Mango Chutney)

Credit: masterchefmom

Everybody loves a good condiment. In Pahang, there are a lot of spicy dishes that really pack a punch to your tongue and gut if you have low spice tolerance. Therefore, it is crucial for you to have a side condiment that is able to cut down the spice level. For that, the people of Pahang created this wonderful tangy chutney dish.

Ingredients:

a) To Blend

  • 40g shallots
  • 20g garlic
  • 5cm ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

b) Other Ingredients

  • 600g green mangoes (mangga muda), pared, halved and de-seeded
  • 12cm cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • 10g cardamom
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 tablespoons meat curry spices
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 50g fried grated coconut flesh (kerisik)
  • 20g dried shrimps, finely pounded
  • 3 1/2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of tamarind juice
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and sugar to taste

Method:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pot and stir fry ginger, shallots, garlic, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise until fragrant and golden brown over medium heat.
  2. Mix the curry spices and turmeric powder with 1/4 cup water. Add 3 tablespoons more if there are still lumps. Mix well. Add the spice water into the stir fry and continue frying until oil surfaces.
  3. Add dried shrimps, coconut milk, kerisik, tamarind juice, palm sugar, and mangoes. Cook over a low heat for 20 minutes until gravy thickens, oil surfaces and blends well. Season to taste.

7. Pincuk Jantung Pisang

Credit: fatphoenix.my

Finally, the seventh traditional dish of Pahang is the simple yet mouth-watering banana blossom salad or kerabu . If you have not had the chance to try cooking and eating a banana blossom before, today may be the day. The flavours are simple yet light. We don’t want to overwhelm you on the very first try, right?

Ingredients:

a) To Blend

  • 20g dried shrimp, soak in hot water for 3 minutes. When soft, rinse well and drain
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorn

b) To Slice

  • 100g of Bombay Shallots
  • 3 red chillies
  • 50g shallots

c) Other Ingredients

  • 350g banana blossom, quartered
  • 300g of Spanish mackerel, roasted, flesh removed and finely pounded
  • 10g of polygonum leaves (daun kesum)
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil

Method:

  1. Boil banana blossom in a pot with 1 1/2 cups of water. Add in 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 teaspoon of salt to avoid the blossom from browning. Boil for about 10-15 minutes. When tender, drain and slice thinly.
  2. Add the sliced banana blossom, pounded fish and the other sliced ingredients into a bowl. Add in coconut milk and lime juice. Mix well.
  3. Add salt and sugar to taste.

More Traditional Dishes to Discover

There are many, many more traditional dishes of Pahang. If you love these traditional recipes from Pahang, you can try more of such recipes compiled with love by our Raja Permaisuri Agong in her cookbook, ‘Air Tangan Tengku Puan Pahang-Masakan Tradisional Pahang’ that is available in all major bookstores.

If you are curious about other regional traditional dishes of Malaysia, just let us know by sending us a DM at our Instagram profile, Facebook page or our Twitter account. Happy cooking!

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Butterkicap Team
Butterkicap Team

We're just a small group of friends who love food, culture and Malaysia. We saw the rise of mediocre food, deteriorating relationships and missed the good old days of Malaysia where food was good, homes were warmer and full of friends and family. So we rolled up our sleeves, and made Butterkicap with the hope that it will bring people and flavors home.

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