In Padang, restaurants grill and fry small whole mackerel before smearing them with sambal, a spicy chile-based condiment. We find that the skin-on fillets of larger fish work just as well. This recipe first appeared in our March 2014 issue with the story Spice World.
FOR THE SAMBAL
- 10 large red Holland chiles, chopped
- 5 fresh red Thai chiles, stemmed
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 small Asian shallots, peeled
- 1 medium vine-ripe tomato, roughly chopped
- 1⁄2 tsp. sugar
- 1⁄4 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
FOR THE FISH
- 1⁄3 cup canola oil
- 6 (6-oz.) skin-on mackerel fillets
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Make the sambal: Pulse chiles, garlic, shallots, tomato, sugar, and salt in a small food processor into a coarse paste. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add paste; cook until slightly caramelized and thick, 5–7 minutes.
- Make the fish: Wipe skillet clean; heat oil over medium-high heat. Pat fish dry using paper towels; season with salt. Working in batches, fry fish, flipping once, until cooked, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter; spoon sambal over the top.