Meen achar or Fish pickle: In Kerala, it is very common to find some form of fish in your meal. Though fish pickle/meen achar is not a popular item from the place I come from, it is quite a hit in the Southern-Mid Kerala regions. I first had fish pickle when my roommate got it from her home after our semester break. And it was quite delicious 🙂 I had it another time at a friend’s place for dinner few months ago.
I didn’t ask anyone for a recipe as such. My mom prepares shrimp/prawn pickle at home and its to die for 😉 So I just modified that a little and tried to make fish pickle my style. I figured that for any pickle/achar, there are few things that you can use in permutation-combination and all of it tastes good 😀 Those ingredients are mainly, fenugreek, mustard, asafetida, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, green chilli and vinegar. The must use ingredient is red chilli powder 🙂 From my couple of experiences with fish pickle, I saw that ginger, garlic and curry leaves is something thats used in it. My mom uses only garlic for most kind of pickles. So I thought of going for these additions. For a first timer, I wasn’t disappointed 😛 This recipe is posted after my attempt a second time. The first time, I did a blunder!!! I made the pickle using catfish. Now, if you plan to make fish pickle, use more harder fish like King fish/Neimeen or Tilapia or even Salmon. Catfish was too soft for a pickle. After deep frying, the fish pieces should be little hard. Thats helps in preserving the fish pickle for a longer duration or may be thats how the texture should ideally be!!!
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml
Fish(I used Neimeen/King fish) – 200 gm
Garlic – 4 nos, chopped
Ginger – 1 inch piece, chopped
Curry leaves – 1 strand
Green chilli – 2 nos, slit
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek powder – less than 1/4 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Vinegar – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1 tsp)
Boiled water – 3/4 cup
Oil(Sesame preferred) – 2 tbsp
For fish marination and deep frying:-
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Oil – as needed(apprx. 1 cup)
1. Wash and clean the fish and cut it into small 1 inch cubes/pieces. Drain the water well and dry it with paper towel if needed(this will prevent the oil from spluttering when you fry the fishes).
2. Marinate the fish with turmeric powder, kashmiri red chilli powder and salt mentioned under ‘For fish marination and deep frying’ section. Keep aside for an hour or so.
3. Heat oil in a deep frying dish/pan and deep fry the marinated fish pieces in batches(about 10 pieces at a time). Fry (in medium high flame) till the fish pieces have cooked well and drain the oil using a paper towel and keep aside.
Note: The oil should be really hot before you put the fish pieces for frying. Else, the fish pieces will absorb lot of oil. This is the case while deep frying anything. If the oil isn’t heated well, it leads to a lot of oil absorption.
4. For making the pickle, heat oil in a saucepan and put mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, put curry leaves and let it splutter. Reduce the flame to medium.
5. Put chopped ginger and chopped garlic and slit green chillies. Saute till the garlic and ginger turns light brown.
6. Now add the fenugreek powder, red chilli powder and kashmiri red chilli powder. Saute for few seconds. Make sure that the red chilli powder doesn’t burn.
7. Add 1 cup of boiled water. Put the fried fish pieces and salt into it and mix well.
8. Remove from flame and pour the vinegar into the saucepan and give a good mix. At this point, do a taste check and add more salt or vinegar per your taste.
9. After the pickle cools down, transfer it into a jar and store in the refrigerator.