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Grilled Fish Stuffed With Sambal

Grilling whole fish and stuffed with sambal paste is very popular in Malaysia. They are great with some steamed rice and perhaps a couple of stir-fried vegetables to complete the meal. For this recipe, I used Tai Snapper; some other good options are Hardtail or mackerel fish. The fish can be pan-fried directly in some oil, or in the banana leaves. I chose the latter because I like the lovely aroma from the banana leaf.

Grilled Fish Stuffed With Sambal


2 (about 1.2 kg) Whole Fish (Tai Snapper), scaled, cleaned & make a slit along the back of the fish (lengthwise)
Banana Leaf
Peanut Oil
Kalamasi Limes
Sambal Kicap Manis, optional

Sambal Paste
35 grams Dried Chilies, cut into small pieces with a scissor and soaked in boiling water, drained
5 Red Chilies, seeded, roughly chopped
8 (200 grams) Shallots, peeled, and roughly chopped
2 Stalks of Lemongrass, sliced
3 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 Small Piece (8 grams) of Fresh Turmeric, peeled
½ “ Piece of Fresh Turmeric, peeled and chopped
1 Lemongrass, chopped
2 tsp Toasted Belachan/Shrimp Paste
1 Tbsp Cane Sugar
1 heaped Tbsp of Seedless Tamarind Pulp, mixed with 3 Tbsp of warm water
Sea Salt
Peanut Oil for frying


For the sambal paste: Process all the sambal paste ingredients until smooth, except the sugar, Tamarind pulp, sea salt and oil. Heat about 1/2 cup of more oil in a wok over medium heat. Fry the sambal until it is aromatic, and the oil starts to separate, and remember to stir continuously. Then season the sambal with tamarind paste, sugar, and sea salt.

Stuffed Fish: Get the fishmonger to make a slit along the back of the fish (lengthwise), or you can do it yourself :-) Spoon some sambal paste evenly into the prepared fish pockets.

Pan Grilled: Grease the cast iron pan with some oil. and place the banana leaves. Place the sambal stuffed fish on the banana leaves and let it cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. You can stuff some sambal into the cavity of the fish, if desired. Once the fish is cook on one side, about 8 to 10 minutes, use a spatula to turn the fish over and spread sambal paste on top of the fish. Cook the fish for another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and serve immediately with some steamed rice, along with some Kalamansi juice or sweet sambal.


  1. I am drooling when I see the picture of your delicious looking fish with the incredible sambal. Yum!

  2. The thought of sambal is making me salivate..... looks yum!


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