MUAR – It is the never-ending romance with the delectable ‘Asam Pedas Muar’ dish that inspires former soldier Yahya Saipar to retain the authenticity of the traditional Malay dish until today.
The 69-year-old Royal Malay Regiment veteran, better known as ‘Pak Ya’ among the residents of Pantai Leka, Parit Jawa said he retained the use of the dish’s original recipe to preserve the identity of the dish popular in Melaka and Johor.
He said he had never changed the recipe since opening his restaurant, ‘Pak Yahya Asam Pedas’, about a decade ago.
The dish has received recognition as the authentic Johor asam pedas from the Johor Corporation (Food and Restaurant Service) and even from former menteri besar, Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Othman, who visited his restaurant in 2004.
“The basic ingredients of the asam pedas are chillies, ginger, shallots and garlic. This differs from other places whereby, belacan (fermented shrimp paste), dried shrimp or pickled radish are added to the dish,” he told Bernama recently.
Pak Ya, whose right leg was amputated in March 2014 due to infection, said to ensure the dish satisfied his patron’s palate, he only used local fish bought directly from fishermen at Pantai Leka in Parit Jawa.
“Among the local fish used are the red snapper, kembong, mackerel and sea bass,” said Pak Ya who is assisted by 10 permanent workers at his restaurant in Medan Asam Pedas, Pantai Leka.
He said although the price of the raw materials constantly went up, he did not increase the price of ‘asam pedas’ because he was a firm believer that doing business was not merely about gaining profit.
“Due to my deteriorating health, my foster son, Mohd Syafiq Abdul Kadir, 26, will be taking over the restaurant soon. Currently, he does the daily cooking. I just supervise him to make sure the taste and measurements follow the original recipe.
“I hope he will continue the legacy to enable the future generation to continue enjoying the authentic taste when I am gone,” he added. – BERNAMA