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Singapore style sambal fish


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Those who've read my Singapore (and other) food blogs might know how much I love (Old) Lai Huat's sambal pomfret.  They take the whole fish and fry it, then cover it with this crazy savory sambal.  The fish is basically just a sambal delivery mechanism.  I'd be happy eating their sambal with just some rice, or even just licking it straight from the plate like a dog.  Needless to say, I've been trying to recreate it at home for years and never really been happy with it.  This is the closest I've come - it's pretty close.


Makes 2 meals for 2 people


100g medium size dried shrimp

10-15 (depending on size) dried puya or prik chee faa chillies - or other mildly spicy chilli

160g shallots, chopped

1 head of garlic, deskinned and crushed

200g spur chillies - mildly spicy long red chillies, deseeded

2-3 Thai chillies

30g belacan (shrimp paste), toasted then crumbled

Rice bran oil or other high heat oil for frying


1) Soak the dried shrimp for about 20 minutes, then drain



2) chop then pound them in a mortar and pestle - you don't want it too fine



3) Destem the dried chilli and snip into short lengths removing the seeds and soak for about 20 minutes, then drain discarding the soaking water



4) In a food processor or blender, grind the shallot and garlic together to make a paste


5) Separately, grind the drained dried chillies and fresh chillies together to make a paste


6) In a wok, heat about 1/4 - 1/3 C oil, then fry the shallot/garlic paste until quite fragrant - about 3-4 minutes


7) Add the chilli paste and stir to combine, fry for a minute or two


8 ) Add the pounded dried shrimp and crumbled belacan, stir to combine



9) Keep frying over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching



10) When the oil first starts to come out of the paste, turn the heat to medium low and keep going until the sambal is quite dry



It should look kind of like this - or maybe even a little drier....



Try not to splatter your wall like I did...


11) Season - it should only need a little salt (both the belacan and dried shrimp are salty) and maybe a little sugar, then reserve and keep warm


12) season your fish (I used mahi mahi which worked well) with some salt, then coat in 50/50 cornstarch/rice flour... or all rice flour... or wondra flour....


13) Heat some oil in the wok and shallow fry the fish until done


14) Drain the fish, then top with a generous coating of sambal.  Serve with rice/stir fried veggies



Edit: increased the amount of dried shrimp

Edited by KennethT (log)
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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

Have you ever made popcorn in that wok after making your fish dish?  Seems to be a thing these days.

I've only made popcorn once in that wok - it was a complete disaster.  The wok is thin carbon steel and it burnt (or I did rather) the crap out of the popcorn.

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