Just like most of the province in central Sumatra, Jambi is predominantly Melayu. Consequently, you can find lots of Melayu dishes here. Jambi is rich in culinary delights which is somewhat connecting all nearby regions. In a way, Jambi traditional dishes are a combination of the most iconic foods in the region.
One of the characteristics of the dish here is the heavy use of fish, mostly freshwater ones. Indeed, this theme is prevalent in Melayu area. Here are some of the most delicious fish-based Jambi traditional dishes that you must try.
Gulai Tepek Ikan
Gulai is one of the Indonesians’ take on curry. Just like curry, the dish also uses a lot of coconut milk for its soup. Usually, gulai uses chicken or lamb. However, in Jambi, gulai tepek ikan uses fish cake instead of any meat. The fish cake is almost similar to pempek from Palembang. This dish indeed uses a lot of spices, making it really flavorful. The thick soup is perfect, especially to compliment rice.
This is basically a fried fish, but with a lot of extra steps to give a wonderful taste. The fish, usually freshwater one, is wrapped in banana leaves with spices such as chili pepper, shallot, garlic, tamarind, nutmeg, turmeric, and coriander. The whole thing is then fried rather slowly until it is fully cooked. The result is delicious fish with a lot of flavors.
This is one of the most popular dishes in central Sumatra. Tempoyak is a fermented durian, and it is a very versatile condiment. Additionally, patin is a kind of freshwater catfish which is very popular in Sumatra. You can eat tempoyak directly or make it into chili paste. Tempoyak patin is a kind of gulai which uses tempoyak as the main flavor. The gulai will taste great and rather fresh.
Pempek here and in Palembang are basically similar. They are fish cake, with the main ingredients of fish meat and tapioca flour. It is delicious, savory, and of course full of fish flavor. The texture is rather soft but still chewy. In Palembang, pempek uses vinegar as a condiment. However, pempek sambal in Jambi is using chili paste. The main ingredient of the paste is chili pepper, turmeric, shallot, and garlic.
There are a lot of dishes that you can enjoy in Jambi. However, the best of Jambi traditional dishes are fish-based, just like many regions in Melayu. These dishes are especially great as a companion for rice, the staple food there.