Another of our famous sambal dish. Sambal dish is part of main course in Southeast Asian countries, with chili base paste stir-fry to fragrant before adding the other main ingredients. They can be vegetable or seafood. One of my favorites is salted fish. Also known as Sambal Ikan Asin or Salted Fish with Chili.
Salted fish is one of those love-it or hate-it. It slightly stinks. It has to be eaten with steamed rice. The smell is either delicious to those who are familiar or stink as hell to those who are new. I am in the first group. We love our salted stinky fish. Our Indonesian way of preparing it is deep-fried and cooked with chili paste. This is one of my mother’s favorite way of cooking salted fish.
It stunk up the whole house, and possibly the street where we lived. But we had so much fun eating it with steamed rice!
Prepare the usual sambal (chili paste) ingredients by method of grinding using mortar and pestle or electric grinder. This time we use red chili, shallots, garlic. Either coarse paste or fine paste is fine and really depends on individual preferences. I like coarse chili paste, as it has certain interesting texture whilst burning my tongue, plus it is prettier to photograph. Also, if you can’t take spicy food, but would like to attempt this recipe, please remove seeds of chilies before grinding.
We use the big salted fish with thick meat. Soak them for half an hour or so to get rid of excess salt. And some other fishy stuff they use to dry the fish. Cut them into medium-sized slices.
Deep-fry salted fish, until dry and thoroughly cooked and nicely browned. Prepare some tomatoes. This is used in place of tamarind juice. Use either one of the sourish agent. Don’t use both.
Stir-fry chili paste with oil on a hot wok. When the paste first made contact with the hot oil, the smoke coming out of the wok will be extremely spicy! Everybody who stands within 5 meters of radius will be sneezing. That is a given, with frying any sambal (chili paste) in Indonesian cuisine.
Stir-fry chili paste till it turn slightly dark and the smoke subsides. Tossing and turning the spatula to get the paste to cook evenly.
Add chopped tomatoes into the wok. Soak the tamarind pulp with some water, discard of the pulp and seeds. Add the juice into the wok.
Lower heat to a simmer.
Toss in salted fish. Cook for a while over low heat.
Then you are done. Serve it with some steamed rice and steamed vegetables.
Salted Fish with Chili, Sambal Goreng Ikan Asin
4 garlic cloves
20 red chilies, seeded
1 tbsp tamarind pulp, diluted with 250 g warm water
1 tomato, chopped
100 g salted fish
1/4 cup cooking oil, for deep-frying fish and more for stir-frying spice paste
Grind shallots, garlic and red chilies in mortar and pestle to coarse paste. Set aside for later use.
Soak salted fish in water for 15-30 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towel. Deep-fry with hot oil till dry and crunchy.
Heat more oil on wok. Stir-fry chili paste for 2 minutes until fragrant.
Add tamarind juice from the pulp and tomatoes into the wok. Lower heat and cook till the sauce boils.
Toss in salted fish. Mix well for a couple of minutes.
Remove from heat and serve with warm rice.