Ikan Sumbat (Chile Fried Fish)

  • Serves

    serves 4


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.


  • 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


Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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.

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