Nyonya Acar Fish

My family’s favorite fish dish is this NYONYA ACAR FISH, a deep-fried fish marinated in a turmeric-vinegar sauce and spiced with garlic, ginger, and chili.

In my aunt’s late 70s, I made an effort to learn our family recipes whenever I visited Penang.

In the three years since my mother passed away, only she has inherited the family’s most treasured recipes, which cover everything from regular home-cooked meals to Nyonya cuisine and kuih (sweet cakes).

This scrumptious Acar Hu is a beloved Nyonya dish known as Nyonya Pickled Fish.

This turmeric-vinegar-garlic-ginger-and-chile-spiced deep-fried fish mixture is a hit with everyone in my family.

“Chee ya hu” is a type of fish that we would utilize in my family’s cooking (silver mullet). As a substitute for silver mullets, you can use fish fillets like red snapper.

While visiting Penang with my brother, I introduced Patty Unterman of the San Francisco Examiner to Penang’s Nyonya cuisine.

Patty requested me for the recipe for Acar Fish as soon as she tried it. When my aunt sat down in the kitchen and began telling us how to create this dish step-by-step, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to make it with my brother.

You can’t go wrong with the flavor combination of Acar fish. Check to visit my website for additional information on Nyonya cuisine.

The average number of calories in one serving?

  • Each serving of this recipe contains only 481 calories.

With this recipe, what are its complementary dishes?

On the list below are some of my go-to midweek dinner recipes.


  • 1-inch matchsticks of peeled ginger
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh red chilies
  • 600 g bone-in silver mullet or Red Snapper fillets, 1 inch thick
  • 2 peeled and thinly sliced garlic bulbs
  • turmeric root, peeled and chopped into thin pieces (about 1 medium-sized piece)
  • chili (bird’s eye) cut into 10 to 12 pieces
  • minced garlic (about 1 medium-sized clove)


  • 2 cups of distilled or filtered water
  • 2 quarts of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup rice vinegar (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt, or as much as you prefer, for seasoning
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (or more, depending on personal choice)
  • 1 tablespoon of roasted white sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Dry turmeric, garlic, and ginger by exposing them to the sun for several hours at a time until they are dehydrated. Fish should be marinated in salt before deep-fried for a beautiful brown crust. Make sure your pot is big enough to hold all of your ingredients before you begin cooking.
  2. When the wok is hot, add the turmeric and cook, stirring until the oil turns a golden color. Use a sieve to drain the turmeric and dispose of it.
  3. Bring water and vinegar to a boil in a wok. Add sugar and salt to taste or as directed by the recipe. Ensure the fish and other ingredients are completely submerged in the marinade before adding it to the pot.
  4. After sprinkling sesame seeds on top, cover the pot with its lid and leave the fish to pickle for the night. It’s best to serve the fish the next day.


  • Nyonya acar fish is traditionally prepared by the instructions outlined above. Roasting the ginger and garlic for a few hours in an oven-safe dish will help speed up the drying process. It is vital to remove all of the moisture from the process.

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