Sambal Ikan Bilis is a fiery spicy sauce that is as a side dish for various Asian foods, popular in many countries including Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. There a literally hundreds of different variations of this sauce, ranging from mild, to very hot. The chilli, Ikan Bilis (dried anchovies), belacan (shrimp paste) and onions are cooked down to give the sauce a rich, full-bodied flavour.
What is Sambal Ikan Bilis?
Sambal ikan bilis is a hot and spicy sauce, that’s made by grinding a combination of chillies, garlic, onion, shrimp paste and ikan bilis (dried anchovies) in a food processor. This paste is then cooked over a medium heat until it darkens and becomes fragrant.
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Sambal Ikan Bilis Recipe
- 15 dried red chillies <-- see note 1
- 3 red chillies – fresh or frozen
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 onion – roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste – or powder
- 20 grams Ikan Bilis (dried anchovies) washed and dried <-- see note 2
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 150 ml water
- 2 teaspoon Tamarind paste concentrate <-- see note 3
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 4 tablespoons oil
- ½ cup of Ikan Biliis washed and dried <-- see note 2
- Soak the dried chillies in warm water for 5 minutes to soften, then drain.
- Blend the chillies, garlic, onion, shrimp paste and ikan bilis in a food processor to form a paste.
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan, add the blended paste and cook on medium heat for about 6 minutes. Stirring all the time, until the colour darkens slightly.
- Mix in the water, tamarind paste, sugar, and salt. Continue to cook and stir for another 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and most of the liquid has reduced.
- Adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding more salt, sugar or tamarind paste if required.
- Store in a glass jar in the fridge.
- After you have made the sambal you can mix in some crispy ikan bilis.
- Wash the ikan bilis, drain and pat dry with kitchen paper towel. Set aside. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a frying pan and fry the ikan bilis in batches until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the pan and dry the excess oil with a paper towel.
- The crispy ikan bilis can be added to the sambal when the sambal is cold.
- - Remove the seeds from the dried chillies before soaking.
- - Or use the big chillies, they are not as hot as the small bird’s eye chilli.
- - Or reduce the amount of chillies in the recipe.
- - Wash them at least three times in clean water, then spread out on a tray lined with absorbent paper and pat dry.
- - It’s important that they are dry especially when you are frying in oil.