sambal ikan bilis

Sambal Ikan Bilis

This is a must-have side dish for nasi lemak, but it’s also great in a sandwich.


6-8 shallots
15-20 dried chillies*
2-3 tbsp oil
1 big onion, sliced thinly
200g peeled ikan bilis, soak in water and drain
1 tbsp tamarind, soaked in ½ cup water to extract the juice
Salt and sugar, to taste


Blend the shallots and dried chillies finely.

Heat up the oil, and fry the blended ingredients over low heat, stirring from time to time until fragrant and the oil floats to the top.

Add the sliced onion, and fry for about three minutes.

Add the ikan bilis and increase the heat to medium.

Fry for another three minutes to mix the ikan bilis and sambal.

Add tamarind juice, and bring to a simmer. Then, lower the heat and cook till the oil floats to the top.

Cook it to the consistency you like – if you want a dry sambal, cook it longer.

Season. Add salt sparingly as the ikan bilis is salty. If you like your sambal sweet, use more sugar.

Serve with rice, or use as sandwich filling.

* To remove the seeds, snip the dried chillies into small pieces and sieve out the seeds in a colander. Then, soak the dried chillies in hot water. The remaining seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the chillies will float to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chillies.

Ivy Soon writes The Hungry Caterpillar

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