Ikan Sumbat (Chile Fried Fish)

In Malaysia, this pan-fried fish dish is typically made with stingray filets, but any six to ten-inch whole fish will do. This recipe first appeared in our October 2011 issue along with Jayanthi Daniel’s article Hungry City.

Ikan Sumbat (Chile Fried Fish) Ikan Sumbat (Chile Fried Fish)
In Malaysia, this pan-fried fish dish is typically made with stingray filets, but any six to ten-inch whole fish will do.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz. tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp. small dried shrimp, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes, drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 red Holland chile, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 12 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 12 cup canola oil
  • 1 12 tsp. dried shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 12 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. sriracha chili sauce
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 small branzino, black sea bass, or bluefish (about 12 oz. each), gutted and cleaned
  • 2 lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Bring tamarind and ½ cup water to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over high heat, stirring until paste is dissolved; pour through a fine strainer into a small bowl, discard solids, and set tamarind sauce aside. Put shrimp, garlic, chile, and onion in a small food processor, and process until smooth; set chile mixture aside.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat; add dried shrimp paste, and, using a spoon, mash paste with oil. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add chile mixture; cook, stirring, until mixture is no longer raw, 4-6 minutes. Add tamarind sauce, sugar, paprika, chili sauce, and salt, and cook, stirring, until thick, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer chile paste to a bowl.
  3. Wipe skillet clean, add remaining oil, and return to high heat. Using a spoon, stuff fish cavities with chile paste, and season with salt and pepper. Fry fish in skillet, turning once, until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Squeeze lime over fish.