Pickles such as this is very common in Malaysian Nyonya households. My grandmother used to pickle onions and also stuff chillies with raw papaya strips. I love both these dishes and it is so hard to find this now. The commercially made versions somehow do not come up to par at all. As with most nyonya recipes, they tend to be a bit tedious to make but the end result is delicious. This pickle fish dish is best eaten after about a week to allow it's flavours to develop. However do not keep too long after that or else the taste of the vinegar mixture changes somewhat.
Recipe from "Traditional Malaysian Cuisine"
500g fillet of fish (eg mackeral), cut into 3" size
2 cm piece of fresh tumeric, sliced into 5 pieces
1/4 cup garlic cloves
150g fresh young ginger sliced finely
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
4 fresh red and green chillies, washed, sliced in half and dried in the sun (for about 2 hours. Then slice the chillies and set aside.
18 Tbsp sugar (adjust according to taste)
1/4 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1) Heat the oil and fry the finely sliced giner until brown. Remove from oil and drain well.
2) Fry the garlic, drain and keep aside.
3) Using the same oil, fry the tumeric slices until the oil turns yellow and then remove. Strain the oil and leave it to cool.
4) Heat some oil and fry the fish until it is cooked. Leave to cool.
5) In a bowl mix the sugar and the vinegar together. Stir until the the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Prepare the Pickle:
1) In a dry jar sprinkle a layer of sesame. Top it with a layer of fried ginger, garlic and chillies.
2) Spread the fish slices on top. Add in a few Tbsp of the tumeric oil and vinegar/sugar mixture.
3) Repeat steps (1) and (2) until all the ingredients have been used.
4) Cover the jar tightly, place in the fridge and leave it for one week. Best consumed within a week after this.
5) Serve at room temperature as an accompaniment to steamed rice.