Treasures of Terengganu

MENTION Terengganu and at once you think of keropok, fish and turtles. It is a state that has lots to offer tourists, especially its rich culinary heritage. Traditional is the way to go. None of the fancy fusion stuff which can lead to confusion. Chefs and homemakers take pride in preparing their specialities the old fashion way with all its proper traditional ingredients and no substitutes. Given the abundant supply of fish, it is small wonder that most of these recipes are fish-based. 

With the festive season approaching you might like to try something authentic and different. Some are easy to prepare and you will be amazed at the results. Others may take more time and patience as there are no shortcuts. The sweets can be a little tricky and you will need a bit of practice. 



Preparation time: 40 mins 

Cooking time: 30 mins 


(for gravy) 

1 grated coconut 

5 medium sized ikan kembung (mackerel)  

12 small red onions 

1 thumb size piece ginger 

1 tbsp black peppercorns 

Salt and sugar to taste 

500g laksa noodles, blanched in hot water and drained. 

1 small piece bunga kantan (torch ginger), shredded 

1 bunch daun kesum (polygonum or laksa leaf), finely chopped 

½ grated cucumber 

200g long beans, sliced thinly 

2-3 fresh red chillies, sliced fine 


1.  Wash and gut the fish, place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to boil. When fish is cooked through, remove from heat. Reserve the stock. 

2.    Drain the fish, then scrape out the meat and pound until fine. 

3.   Grind the onions, ginger and black peppercorns till fine. 

4.    Add the pounded fish to this mixture and pound again. 

5. Mix the grated coconut with warm water and extract one litre of milk. 

6.  In a deep saucepan, add the coconut milk, the reserved fish stock if any and all the pounded ingredients, salt and sugar to taste. 

7.  Bring gravy to boil then simmer until thick. 

8. To serve: divide noodles into serving bowls, spoon hot gravy over and garnish with the condiments. 


Nasi Dagang 

Preparation time: 5-6 hours 

Cooking time: 2 hours 


1kg long grain rice preferably Siamese rice, but not fragrant  

250g white glutinous rice 

1½ grated coconuts 

1 small shallots 

2cm piece ginger 

1 tsp fenugreek 

Pinch of salt and sugar 


1.       Wash the rice and glutinous rice well, place in a basin, cover with water and allow to soak for 5-6 hours. 

2.       Extract 6 glasses (approx. 1.2litre) coconut cream from the coconuts. Add salt and sugar to taste. 

3.       Slice the ginger and garlic finely. Soak the fenugreek in water for half an hour then drain and mix with sliced ingredients. 

4.       Drain the rice, spread in a tray and steam over high heat, sprinkling with a little coconut milk every now and then until rice is cooked.  

5. Stir in the ginger, garlic and fenugreek and steam for another minute. 

6. Remove from heat, turn out rice into a serving dish. Sprinkle over remaining coconut milk, stir well and serve with a fish or meat curry. 


Gulai ikan nasi dagang 

Preparation time: 30 mins 

Cooking time: 20 mins 


3 pieces ikan tongkol or ikan tenggiri (albacore tuna or Spanish mackerel) or approx.  

500g chicken pieces 

100g ground dried chillies 

5 red shallots 

3 cloves garlic 

3cm piece ginger 

2 tsp kurma curry powder 

2 pieces dried tamarind 

4 cups thick coconut milk 

3cm piece galangal 

2 candlenuts 

3 tbsp oil 

Salt to taste 


1. Wash and clean the fish well and keep aside. 

2.    Pound together the onions, garlic, ginger and galangal then mix in the ground chilli paste. 

3.    Heat oil in a saucepan, then add the pounded ingredients and the kurma curry powder. Saute until fragrant. 

4.    Add the fish pieces, coconut milk and tamarind pieces, bring to boil. 

5.     Mix in salt to taste and simmer till curry thickens.  


Otak-otak ikan (grilled fish paste

Preparation time: 20 mins 

Cooking time: 30 mins 


1kg ikan tenggiri (fillet and scrape out meat) 

1 grated coconut 

3cm piece fresh turmeric 

6 fresh red chillies 

5 stalks lemon grass (use only about 3cm of the bottom of the stalk) 

1 turmeric leaf (shredded) 

1 tbsp cumin seeds 

Salt to taste 

Coconut leaves – cut in approx 24cm lengths and about 3cm wide. Soak to soften and keep aside. Prepare approx. 15-20 pairs. 


1.       Pound the fish meat until fine. 

2.       Pound together the coconut, fresh turmeric, chillies and cumin till fine. 

3.       Mix the fish paste with this pounded mixture together with the shredded turmeric leaf and salt. 

4.       Fill one tablespoon of this mixture into one of the prepared coconut leaves and use the other one to seal it. Skewer the two ends together. Do this until all the fish mixture has finished. 

5. Place under a hot grill or barbecue for 15-20 minutes. Serve at once. 


Sata (another type of otak-otak)  

Preparation time: 30 mins 

Cooking time: 25 mins 


1 grated coconut 

10 small ikan kembong or ikan selayang (sardine) 

2 cm piece ginger 

12 small onions 

2 red chillies, sliced 

Salt and pepper to taste 

Banana leaves soaked to soften and cut into 10cm x 14cm pieces. Make about 15 pieces 


1.       Fillet the fish and scrape out the meat. 

2.       Pound together the onions and ginger till fine. 

3.       Pound together the fish with the grated coconut until fine then add salt and sugar to taste, then add in the onions and ginger and mix well. 

4.       Take one piece of the banana leaf and fold into a cone. Fill with the fish mixture, place a chilli slice on top, then seal the ends of the leaf and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining mixture. 

5.       Place under a hot grill for 15-20 minutes. 


Mas sejemput 

Preparation time: 20 mins 

Cooking time: 15 mins 


8-10 duck egg yolks  

500g sugar 

200 ml water 


1.       Separate the egg yolks carefully one by one. 

2.       Bring to boil the sugar and water until a thick syrup forms. 

3.       Reduce the heat to very low. 

4.       Using a tablespoon carefully place one egg yolk on the spoon and place the spoon into the hot syrup. 

5.       When the egg yolk begins to set, slide it into the syrup and let it cook until it is firm but not hardboiled.  

6.       With a slotted spoon carefully remove the egg yolk and leave to drain. As soon as it is cool to touch, gently pick it up using three fingers to create a flower. Cool well before serving. 

       * This requires a lot of practice to get it right. 

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