Fried Batang Fish (Mackerel) in Turmeric Powder

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fried Batang fish, served here with kecap manis sauce, omelette and rice. 

This is a simple recipe which you can use for your daily dinners.

Fried Batang or Mackerel fish, marinated in turmeric powder was a comfort food in my childhood home. I can also recall it being sold in my Mum's restaurant and canteen.

Over the years, Batang has become more expensive but it is still a relatively cheaper fish to use and is very suited for pan or deep frying as the flesh is firm.

Whether you are serving a whole family or just a dinner for two, this dish is convenient and easy to make.

Note a few tips about fish:
  • As long as it is fresh, you won't need to do a lot to make it taste good.
  • It keeps well frozen.
  • Fish does not need to be marinated for too long. 30 minutes at most. 
  • Clean your fish thoroughly to remove the blood and scum. 
  • Fish bones and heads can be used to make stock.
If I am cooking this for a huge dinner party (like that served in our Alpha Course), I will ask the fishmonger to slice it boneless. This way you avoid having guests - who are busy talking - choking on bones and in need to a visit to an ENT clinic. For your family dinner, you can choose to have it with the bone in the middle.

The sauce to accompany it is important. It can be just plain sambal. I like to do the kecap manis (sweet) and fish sauce (savory)  combi sauce.


1 kilo of Batang or Mackerel Fish steaks (1 cm thick)
Some cooking oil

1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of white pepper

For the Sauce:
200 ml of recap manis (use Bango if you have)
2 tablespoon of fish sauce
3 dried chillies
1 piece of coriander root or stem.
2 stalks of spring onions or some shallots
2 tablespoon of water and some corn flour

  1. Wash the fish steaks thoroughly. Dry it up with paper towel or cloth and marinate it for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat up a sauce pan and add some cooking oil, no more than 2 mm high.
  3. When oil is heated, add the fish steaks. Cook for a minute on each side.
  4. Serve immediately. Garnish with coriander leafs.
Preparing the Sauce:
This can be done at the same time as you fry the fish steaks. In a separate small pot, heat it up. Add some of the oil from the fish pan. Add the smashed coriander root/stems, spring onion and dried chillies. Fry for 2 minutes. Add the kecap manis and fish sauce. Add the mixture of water and corn flour. Taste to get the balance right.It should be sweet with a savoury undertone. Serve with the fish and some sambal belachan.

Best eaten with rice.

As shown in the lead photo and the one below, you can also have the fish sliced boneless and presented in a thicker piece. This is suited for party dinners. For this deep frying (full immersion in oil) will be the best way of cooking it.

The electrical deep-fryer does the job very efficiently for a big batch of fish.

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