In Pekanbaru, the capital town of Riau Province, Indonesia, there are a lot of food stall or food house that serve Malayan food. One of them is a food stall/food house named Rumah Makan Hajjah Upik.

Among the others specific menus, gulai patin (patin fish curry) and asam pedas patin (patin fish that cooked with taste of sour and hot chilli) are favorite menus. Patin fish could find in the others area of Sumatra, even Kalimantan. But, the cooking method which the meal could get original aroma, only people of Riau could do that.

Day by day menu
Bustamam (55), one of citizen of Riau said that gulai patin and asam pedas patin only could find in Riau.

According to Bustamam, Patin fish is a river fish. Formerly, this fish was life in Indragiri River, Siak River, Kampar River, and Rokan River. Those fourth rivers are Main River in Riau Province. Patin fish become a part of citizen and day by day menu.Adult fish live in the upper course of river, and let its egg drift follow the river. That egg crack around the river. The fish which become adult begin its journey to come back to upper course of river. Like salmon, isn’t it? :)

At the year 1970-1980, we can still get patin fish which length until one meter or more than one meter. Patin fish from river have a special aroma, if it cooked and no spices added, its flash fragrant, and do not smell like a soil.

But, nowadays, genuine patin fish from river seldom to find. You can find patin fish from cultivation by citizen. That length of cultivation fish only 25-50 cm average, and the weight less than one kilogram. With implementing a right cooking method, we still get a delicious taste :).

Beside in food stall/food house named Rumah Makan Hajjah Upik, you’ll find patin curry and asam pedas curry in food stall which could find on Simpang Tiga area, near Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport, until on Sudirman Street-Leighton Bridge, Pekanbaru. A long that band, you could find food stall/food house and restaurant, example Pondok Patin restaurant, Pondok Gurih, Riau Kuring, Yurika. If you don’t have enough pocket, just pick several small food stall and town area which offer a cheap price. Although that small stall do not have a name, patin curry and asam pedas menus still delicious.

Patin Curry (Gulai patin)
Patin curry, like the other curry, have dark yellow gravy with a big cut of fish meat it’s so fragrant. Asam pedas served in red colored which seduce your tongue, delicious, warm, and hot because of the chili.

And then complementary menus arrive, Sambal Jengkol (Sambal is condiment of chili which pestle, jengkol is one of specific bean food in Indonesia), boiled potato, salty fish, shrimp curry, and the others menu…and, the party begin!!!

Patin fish flesh directly smelted just at the moment bribed in mouth. The flesh is so soft…really delicious with absorbed spices which tastily on the tongue. Curry gravy is so jelly, the flesh aroma blowing through a nose, makes stomach do not hold on to taste. The curry gravy so fit mixed with cooked rice and tip of boiled leaf potato.
One unique thing of patin curry among the other curry is patin curry mixed with kecombrang flower. This flower put in curry gravy and cooked until wilted. Be side as a vegetable function which impress a fresh cooking, the flower add exotic aroma.
Taste sensation not yet finishes. Trial menu is changing to asam pedas. This menu offering freshly taste and hot chili compared with curry which for some people is too jelly. Taste of fresh sour trigger a mouth when flesh bitten.
This patin fish meals are most delicious when serve as lunch or diner meal. For meal serve for two men, its cost Rp. 65.000,00 or USD 7.

Source of this article: KOMPAS, written by Neli Triana, edited and translated by reog.