Sambal Stuffed Fish

On my last trip back to Penang, I was enticed by this deliciously lip-smacking sambal fish while having breakfast with my mum. They were arranged neatly at the Economy Rice stall waiting to be picked and regrettably I left without having any. Fast forward to few weeks later, the image of the sambal fish keeps flashes beyond me and I knew I had to do something about it. That was when I came across this recipe from Rasa Malaysia. Whenever it comes to cooking, I always look for simple recipes. But this recipe is totally the opposite. You have to make the rempah (spice) from scratch and that’s what I dread the most.

Oh well,  if you want something, you have to make it work right? Put on the apron, gathered all the ingredients and started blending the ingredients together. Making sambal is not as difficult as I initially thought, it’s quite an easy task. But there are two things you have to take note:- the pungent smell of the fried chillies will make you sneeze (which is good for nose-clearing ;)) and the whole kitchen including yourself will smell of belachan. It took me a few days to have the kitchen properly rid off the smell but until today there’s still some smell lingering on. Anyone has any ideas how to completely get rid of the smell?

I was quite happy with the sambal but not so with fish. I used Happycall to fry the fish and it turned out to be moist and a bit watery. It lacked the fried fish texture, just different from what I remembered. I’m not sure what went wrong. Could it be because of the pan (first time using Happycall) or could it be the sambal too watery? I brought this to my neighbour’s house for dinner and they loved it including the hubs. Me however was not satisfied.

So, I decided to make it again for the neighbour’s birthday bbq. This time round, I fried the sambal a little longer until it’s drier and we fried the stuffed fish using a pan on the bbq pit 🙂 Verdict? It’s bree-lee-ant!! So much better than the first attempt. Taste wise and texture wise is almost similar to those selling outside except that it’s a wee bit too spicy. The hubs kept saying that I am crazy to use so much chili. Hehe. I guess I have to omit the chili padi next time 🙂

I can’t wait to make this for my mum. She loves this! And her late mum aka my grandma makes one of the best sambal stuffed fish. Mum, I’ll make for you one day. But for now, just look at the photos and gian! 😛

Sambal Stuffed Fish 

2 hardtail mackerel (ikan cincaru)


3 fresh red chilies
5 dried chilies
2 chili padi (for more oomph :))
10-12 shallots
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp belacan (I used belachan powder)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tablespoon tamarind pulp, soak in 1/4 cup water, extract juice and discard pulps
1/4 cup oil

1. Clean fish throughly. Using a sharp knife, cut a deep slit from the back of the fish along the bone. Repeat the same on the other side of the fish.
2. Blend the spice paste with a mini food processor.
3. Heat up wok with 3 tbsp oil, add in spice paste and stir-fry with low heat until aromatic. Add tamarind juice and continue to stir-fry until the spice paste is smooth and not overly runny. Season to taste with salt and sugar. Dish out and let cool.
3. Stuff the spice paste into the fish on both sides of the slit and also inside the fish stomach.
4. Heat up 1/4 cup oil in a wok, deep fry the fish until cooked. Serve immediately.


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