Stuffed Sambal Fried Fish


Apparently, this is everyone favourite fish dish.
Each of us has fond memories to share of this dish.
The thing about food memories, it roots us in a time and place, tell a story and make us feel all nostalgic and HUNGRY.

So here I am feeling famished as I flipped through my food album. The photos were so tempting good that I make a point to get the fresh fish at the market the same morning.
One of the reasons I love cooking is because it enables me to cook it the way I remembered it, the way I like it i.e.crisp skin and sambal coated tender flesh inside.

It is my papa's favourite, and I still remembered his first attempt to cook it for us when we were young.
He made me pound the spice paste with the pestle and mortar till the chilli seeds are blended in which makes the paste really spicy.
This is one chore I dread and which is why I voted the grinder as the best kitchen invention, especially when one needs a large batch of spice paste. (do make a large batch of this versatile sambal, I use the same sambal to stir fried cuttlefish and most recent - sweet potatoes leaf curry)

I have added coconut cream to the spice paste for a smooth and creamy flavour, you may substitute it with Assam paste if you prefer a sour base.
Oh, don't leave out the lime leaves, it adds depth to the paste with its citrus tone.

You may remove the seeds from the chilli if you can't handle the heat.
Having said that, the dish is at its best with some level of heat.
Hey, no heat, no kick!

This is also the dish where I learned to expertly eat with my hands. (my understanding of "finger food")
I was told within Indian culture there is an old saying that, “eating food with your hands feeds not only the body but also the mind and the spirit”.

Well, we Singaporean has this saying: SHIOK!

You will need:

2 Mackerel (Ikan cincaru)
3-4 tbsp cooking oil for frying paste
60ml oil for deep frying
30ml coconut cream
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves, slices thinly

Spice paste(ground)
4 fresh red chillies
10 dried chillies (soak in hot water till soft, drained)
2 cloves garlic
1-inch turmeric
10 shallots
1tsp belachan
1 stalk lemongrass


1.    Clean fish and make a deep slit from the back of the fish along the bone to make a pocket to stuff the spice paste later.

2.     Heat the 3 tbsp oil in a wok to saute the spice paste until fragrant. Add coconut cream and continue to stir till paste appear dry, not runny. Season to taste with salt and sugar before adding kaffir lime leaf. Mix well and dish out and let cool.

3.       When the spice paste is cool enough, stuff it into the fish on the both sides.

4.       Heat ¼ cup oil in a wok to deep fry the fish (high heat to crisp the skin and turn to low heat) till cooked

5.       Serve hot with lime

Cooks Note:
1. Be patient when frying the fish, which requires slow frying on low heat.

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