Ikan masak sambal (Spicy fish)

My first attempt at ikan masak sambal was when I was 14, in home economics.  This was not too long after I fried an egg using half a cup of oil.  I had a good teacher, and the dish turned out quite tasty.

Today, I had a grand idea of cooking ikan masak sambal, but with a twist.  When I was out buying plantain earlier, I picked up some asian long aubergine and okra as well.  I decided to add these vegetables to the sambal, grill the fish separately, and pour the sambal sauce over the fish when serving. 

Now it has been lashing rain all day, but I figured it was going to stop eventually, albeit temporarily.  I got Hubby to cook the fish on the barbecue and the look he gave me was one that said ‘are you off your rocker, woman’.  I’d like to think that I am quirky and eccentric, and my eccentricity will from time to time extend to doing a barbie between rain.   I wasn’t going to take no for an answer, and he knew I’d send him out with the brolly if needs be, so out he went with the fish and lit up the barbecue.  

You could fry the fish and cook it in the sambal, or bake the fish in the oven, but if you’re a little bit off your rocker like me, try it this way. 


  • 2 pomfret, gutted and cleaned, marinated in 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 red chillies, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon grass, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp palm sugar
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp kicap manis (dark soy)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 long aubergine, chopped
  • a handful of okra, leave whole
  • salt to taste


  1. Blend chillies, garlic, ginger, half the shallots and lemon grass with 1 – 2 tbsp water
  2. Heat oil in a pan and fry the shallots for 1 minute
  3. Add the chilli paste to the oil and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes
  4. Add tamarind paste, palm sugar, kicap manis, kaffir lime leaf and water to the chilli paste and leave to cook for 5 minutes
  5. Toss the vegetables into the sambal, season with salt and pour in the coconut milk
  6. Leave to cook for a further 15 minutes
  7. In the meantime, grill the pomfret on your barbecue for 5 minutes on each side, or bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes
  8. Place the fish on a serving dish and pour the sambal vegetables onto the fish
  9. Serve with steamed basmati rice


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