DESPITE being a diehard fan of asam pedas fish, it was only recently that I discovered the many ways of preparing this dish in Johor.
There is the Muar version which is said to be the best, but does not quite do it for me.
Then there is the Batu Pahat version, which best suits my palate. When I took my colleague, Jassmine Shadiqe, to try the Batu Pahat version last year, she was upset with me for not showing her the place earlier.
When I was at a food-tasting/buka puasa session with my colleagues at a restaurant in Taman Austin Boulevard recently, I was introduced to the unique Kluang version.
The asam pedas fish of Muar has a reddish stock, which suits most taste buds.
Those who prefer a thicker stock should go for the Kluang version. It is as thick as curry sauce, making every spoonful a flavourful experience.
Hot and soupy are the key words when it comes to the asam pedas fish of Batu Pahat. The right balance is achieved to make this slightly brownish stock an experience that should not be missed.
It is so hot that one will sweat even on rainy days. So, keep plenty of tissue handy if your dining experience takes place on a hot day.
My friends shared a secret with me recently. They said anyone who is down with a bad cold need only visit an asam pedas fish outlet in Batu Pahat for some relief.
By the way, all the three styles of cooking that I have referred to so far are Malay.
The Chinese have their own version, which is soupy with plenty of tamarind juice and dried chilli. I do not like this ultra-sour version, which is a bit too much for my digestive system and could probably destroy my tooth enamel.
I believe there are dozens of versions of this dish throughout the country because asam pedas fish is loved by the vast majority of Malaysians.
Of late, asam pedas fish restaurants have been mushrooming everywhere.
I think it would be a good idea to set up a hawker centre which serves different versions of this dish.
May I offer this suggestion to the state Tourism Department or perhaps the local authorities?