Sambal is a gravy cooked using paste made from ground dried chillies. This dish can range from medium to very spicy, depending on the type of dried chillies used. The smaller and shorter the chillies the spicier they tend to be. You can use tofu, eggs, chicken, fresh or dried fish to complement your sambal. Malaysian sambal often uses belacan (shrimp paste) and fragrant herbs like lemongrass and is served with rice as a main dish, or as a condiment to spice up bland meals.
3 small white pomfrets, cleaned and cut in half
1 onion, sliced into rings
Salt and pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon corn flour
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 cup water
Juice of half a lime
1 teaspoon sugar
½- 1 cup of dried chillies, cut into smaller chunks and soaked in water for 2 hours, depending on how spicy you would like your sambal to be
4-5 garlic cloves
1 lemongrass stalk
1 teaspoon belacan (normally available as paste of powder)
Pomfrets (bawal in Malay) is a fish found in tropical oceans. In colder climes, you can usually find them in oriental and asian supermarket's frozen sections. You can also choose to use white fish such as cod and seabass for this recipe.
Coat the fish in the turmeric powder, corn flour, salt and pepper. Shallow fry them in some cooking oil for four to five minutes or until lightly golden, but not overcooked. Drain and leave aside.
Using a blender or food processor, blend the sambal paste ingredients until the seeds of the chillies are no longer whole. Sauté the paste in three tablespoon of cooking oil until fragrant, the colour has darkened and the paste appears lumpy. Be careful to ensure some ventilation when frying the chilli paste- it’ll make you sneeze!
Add the onion slices and fry for another three minutes. Add water and tomatoes and let them simmer for five to ten minutes. Season the sambal with lime juice, salt and sugar to taste.
Stir in the fried fish carefully so that they don’t disintegrate. Simmer for another three minutes and and it's ready to makan*!