Ikan Balado (Padang-Style Grilled Mackerel with Sambal)

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


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.



  • 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
  • 12 tsp. sugar
  • 14 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil


  • 13 cup canola oil
  • 6 (6-oz.) skin-on mackerel fillets
  • Kosher salt, to taste


Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

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