Sunday, 2 June 2013

Hardtail Mackerel Stuffed with Sambal Belacan


I am hopeless when it comes to fish. And this is my second fish post after Ikan Percik Merah. That one was easy because I didn't have to fry the fish. I am scared of frying fish because of the splattering oil. Even the loud sizzling when the fish hits the hot oil sends me running out of the kitchen. Coward of the year. LOL!


And I don't even know how to gut a fish properly. My first and only attempt many years ago left the poor fish in tatters. And yet here I am, frying two ikan cencaru (hardtail mackerel) on a lazy Sunday afternoon. All this due to Queenie's Cencaru Sumbat Sambal Belacan which had me fantasizing about the taste of fried fish, belacan and sweet soya sauce. My goodness, how could anybody this side of Asia resist that?


Queenie's advice is to remove the fish guts through a slit made behind the fish instead of the usual way through the abdomen. I'm no fish surgeon and I have to get the service staff at Aeon to do the deed. But to tell the Kakak (big sister) to cut the fish through the back? Shy lah. Besides, she was already staring daggers at me for interrupting her in the middle of chopping up a big fish. Ooops..sorry! 


The sambal stuffing is very basic. All you need is your good old sambal belacan (just pound fresh chillies and toasted belacan) and mix it with sliced onions. I make my sambal belacan in bulk (using blender) and for two fish, I used 5 tablespoons of sambal belacan and one thinly sliced big onion. The smell of belacan toasting is beautiful to some of us but for the rest of the population, it would be what the CSI team would refer to as the familiar smell of decomp. I love CSI :)


I carefully made a slit along the back of the fish, all the time paying attention so that I don't cut too deep. And also to avoid accidents. A few months ago I almost sliced off the tip of my ring finger. The ceramic knife was extremely sharp and  made it's way 3/4 through my fingertip. And mind you, I was slicing chillies. Hot chillies and open wound. I shall not get into the details in case you faint because I almost did. LOL! 


After successfully making the slits, I stuffed the fish. And since the fish already has a slit in it's belly, I also stuffed the remaining sambal into the belly and under it's head. Queenie is shaking her head. Tsk..tsk..tsk...


I took out the big wok my Mum gave me and heated it up, poured oil and said a silent prayer. Then I sprinkled some salt into the hot oil to prevent the fish from sticking to the wok. That's what my Mum taught me. And then, I braced myself. I lifted a fish and gently lowered it into the wok. Prop! prop! prak! prak! I ran away.......but not for long and  came back to drop the other fish in.


As Mr and Mrs fish sizzled away, I cleared the work top and cut my french beans. Then I checked on the fish. For parts of the fish that didn't quite reach the oil, I tipped the wok and held it there. Something I learnt while observing my Mum cook. Now time to flip the fish. Again I braced myself for the onslaught of sizzling oil. Yearghhh.....OK, made it. I safely flipped both fish and there was minimal sticking. The smell was fantastic!


After a short while the fish was done. But I still had to fry my french beans. Since there was still quiet a bit of oil in the wok, I decided to use some of that oil for my vegetable. I used up the rest of the sliced onions that didn't make it into the sambal and chopped up a few cloves of garlic. I also added eggs into the french beans. In my excitement, I forgot to add salt. Hah! Hah! My fried french beans also smelled fantastic.


And now to taste my fish! As Queenie mentioned, douse the fish with sweet soya sauce. As a Terengganu native, our sweet sauce "kayciap" is second to none. I knew I had a secret stash somewhere in the pantry courtesy of my Mum. I did a quick search and jackpot! I found 2 bottles, all nicely wrapped up. Not wasting anymore time, I poured two tablespoon of the sauce onto my fish and squeezed some lime juice.


Hmmmm......big smile on my face. It was delicious! And then I remembered Queenie said to heat up the leftover oil till sizzling point and pour a spoonful of that oil onto the sambal.  I nipped into the kitchen and did just that. What can I say? It was heavenly (Institut Jantung Negara flashes before my eyes) and if I were eating rice, I would be heading for the rice pot for top ups. 


I must say that I am very pleased with my delicious lunch today. Two thumbs up to my friend Queenie for this simple but explosive dish. Meletup habis! And a small pat on my back to me for conquering my fear of frying fish. I guess the people at the fish section at Aeon will be seeing me more often. Hee..hee...









Hardtail Mackerel Stuffed with Sambal (Cencaru Sumbat Sambal Belacan)
Recipe source : Adapted from Queenie

Ingredients :
- 2 hardtail mackerel (ikan cencaru)
- 5 tablespoons sambal belacan
- 1 big onion, thinly sliced
- Sweet soya sauce
- Lime
- oil for frying

Method :
1. Make a deep slit at the back of the fish to create a pocket.
2. Mix sambal belacan with sliced onions and stuff into the fish.
3. Heat oil in wok and fry the fish until cooked and slightly crispy.
4. To serve, pour sweet soya sauce over the fish with a squeeze of lime juice.
5. For extra kick, open up the fish to expose sambal and pour the hot frying oil onto it.

Note :
- If you are cleaning the fish yourself, remove the innards through the slit from the back of the fish. Do not cut into abdominal area.
- In my case, the fish was gutted through the abdomen. I still made the pocked at the back of the fish and stuffed the sambal in there and into the abdominal area.

54 comments:

  1. Love fried fish but is scared of frying them. I am a walking hazard where frying or cutting is concerned. Your fish looks so good - I would love to have a bite of it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah..I am not alone then! After this experience, I have a bit more confidence and courage hah! hah! Shall be frying fish again soon :)

      Delete
  2. Hi Phong Hong, your ikan cencaru sumbat look scrumptious and very inviting.

    I love this fish very much too, sumbat with sambal belachan. Add limau kasturi lagi oohmmm. Sure need extra rice if I cook this. LOL I remove the innards thru the head without cutting the stomach. Just use scissors snip the gills and then pull out the innards. Anyway I buy from wholesale fish market, they don't help to cut small fish. So I'm quite good in gut and scale the fish. :))

    Have a nice weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Amelia! I worked very hard to cook this delicious fish. Hah! Hah! I must try your technique of gutting the fish. Sounds easy but I am sure it needs lots of practice. My dad is very good at it but somehow I never learned from him. Maybe when he next visit I shall request for a tutorial. Have a great week ahead!

      Delete
    2. if your dad indeed gives a tutorial, can share his techniques with us? I only eat fillet because the gills always cuts my fingers.

      Delete
  3. It's 10pm here, all fish shops are shut, the supermarkets are shut, semua tutup....but I MUST HAVE THIS FISH...NOW.....I SAID NOW ..... just too good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cousin, you can't have it now heh! heh! Go buy fish and make sambal. This ikan sumbat is super delicious!

      Delete
  4. I'm not good in dealing with fish too, esp when it comes to pan-frying, so I normally steam them but lately, I also grill them, hehe. This sambal mackerel will be good to go with a bowl of rice congee or boiled rice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jessie, this sambal fish can really make us tambah nasi! If you take some of the oil and mix with rice, aiyoh! heavenly :)

      Delete
  5. wow! I love this sambal sumbat fish but sooo difficult to fry! it messes up the oil, the kitchen and the oil splatters are very painful! I prefer to buy this ready cooked for me lol! Yours looks absolutely delicious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jeannie! It was quite scary and messy for me hah! hah! But I survived! Will be more courageous in future and I will be cooking this fish again sometime soon :)

      Delete
  6. Hi PH...akak baru balik dari Kajang...dah jam 1.15am ni...tadi ada catering lagi, masa sibuk masak sempat curi baca cerita budak penakut goreng ikan ni tapi tak sempat nak tulis komen, akak ketawa guling2 sambil hentak2 kaki, "huarggghh...PH lawan tauke lagiii!!!"

    honestly PH, yours nampak lebih menyelerakan, moist ngan merah cili yang mampu cairkan airliur sesiapa yang melihatnya..

    PH, akak lupa nak pesan, kalau ada problem masa menggoreng, ikan ni sedap jugak digrill, tapi tetap kena renjis ngan minyak...kalau ada kuali ajaib tentu lebih mudah, susun jer ikan dalam kuali, tuang minyak agak2 cukup, takyah sampai ikan terendam, tutup kuali dulu then baru hidupkan api...biar kan dia masak sempurna tanpa perlu kita jadi mangsa percikan, kalau nak balikkan pun just flip the kuali over...senang, kan? maaf ya, lupa laa...

    timekasih sudi mencuba ya PH, dan lebih happy kalau you sukakan rasanya...heh heh

    oh ya PH, kalau terlupa letak garam masa goreng sayur, you boleh renjis ngan fish sauce jer, kacau2 sampai rata rasanya...takyah masukkan garam...(sorry, macam nak tunjuk pandai pulak) ngeh3...niat akak cuma nak share jer, takper kanPH?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kak Q! Sorry ler tak panggil title Kak dulu. Who knows I might be older kan...Terima kasih atas nasihat dan tunjuk ajar akak. Ya lah, tak terfikir pulak nak renjis dengan fish sauce. No problem, I menghargai teguran akak. Antara grill dengan goreng, bagi PH goreng lagi sedap. Tapi akan tetap cuba sebab takut letupan minyak. PH ni penakut besor! Kak Q, I love this cencaru sumbat sambal belacan a lot! Will masak again very soon :)

      Delete
  7. Wow! your Sambal Belachan fish looks so yummy makes me my saliva drip-drip I can just imagine the smell and the whole house will also smell.With one fish can eat 2 plates of rice.When I fry Li will put the oil on to his rice not much chance for me .Wow the next time you can cook for me Can or not??Your fish makes me feel so hungry must go and have my breakfast now.Only wish I can eat your fish for breakfast kapek with bread yum-yum time for breakfast now

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EE, you must try this! It is so delicious that I wish I had eaten with rice. But if I eat with rice, I won't be able to control myself. Sure will eat two plates heh..heh...

      Delete
  8. thsi looks delicious! I do something similar but I just use the oven grill hee hee less washup!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Shu Han, I am thinking of using the grill next round and compare which method taste better :)

      Delete
  9. Yummmmmmm!!!! I love this!!! You stuffed before frying? Mine ended up a mess, the stuffing came out floating in the oil and got burnt - so very messy. I tried stuffing after deep-frying - nice also but not really the same. Maybe grilling on a greased metal plate would be better...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arthur, I stuffed before frying. Some of the stuffing did come out, but just a little bit. You can try again. Make a deeper pocket or just stuff into the belly but don't overstuff. Grilling could be good too but I reckon frying taste better.

      Delete
  10. I love this fish and will always get this when it's available at the economy rice stall. I've made this once, long, long ago and I hate frying fish in the kitchen, too much of cleaning and the odour lingers. Thumbs up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheah, I hate frying fish too but I am starting to get the hang of it. But the oiliness in the kitchen ugh! But still, for the delicious fish I don't mind :)

      Delete
  11. I have never prepared this fish, here they usually sell it smoked
    Blog about life and travelling
    Blog about cooking

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ola, fish prepared this way is most likely very alien to you. I like smoked fish especially smoked salmon!

      Delete
  12. Hi Phong Hong, I love this so much! I can eat the filling by itself... i am drooling looking at your photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mich, I remember you made a similar dish for one of the MFF events. Care to try this version? Hee..hee..

      Delete
  13. Kak Phong Hong,

    Wah!! this sambal sumbat fish pandai meletup ke??
    Looks very inviting, can i have extra rice please?
    I am a big fan of french bean no matter how you cook it!! Yours looks YUM!
    mui

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mui mui, this fish is tersangat-sangat sedap! Hope you can try it someday :)

      Delete
  14. masakan u betul2 buat i meleleh air liur tauu... ini memang kesukaan i!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MaDiHaA ini fevret terbaru! Dah tak atkut nak goreng ikan hee..hee...

      Delete
    2. Eh, silap spelling lak. "takut".

      Delete
  15. I love this dish but no more homemade ones after my maid left me, sob sob :( Like you, i am also a penakut besor when it comes to frying fish! Fish looks good, big pat on the back! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brave yourself and try it! I have overcome my fear and will be frying fish more often :)

      Delete
  16. I lagi hungry liao, air liur pun sama sama keluar, hahaha..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah! Hah! Hah! Sonia, cepat pergi pasar beli ikan, tumbuk sambal dan goreng ikan!

      Delete
  17. I would never even attempt to gut a fish, so I am very impressed with your attempt. The stuffing sounds wonderful...I'd call this a success!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lizzy! I am going to re-attempt gutting fish. I have to learn at some point :)

      Delete
  18. Hi Phong Hong! Hope you ring finger is alright now...


    The fried fish and the french bean made a very warm hearty home cook meal. Oh... You mean you did not have rice with the dishes?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Alvin no rice for me :) My finger is OK now. It took slightly more than a week to heal. I am more careful these days when handling knives.

      Delete
  19. That does look tasty. I have only stuffed fish with lemon and herbs so I need to try something like this. Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carole, if you like spicy Asian food, this might suit you!

      Delete
  20. Hi Phong Hong,
    My family love this dish a lot, though the sambal filling is a little different from yours. I wanted to cooked this ever since last week, but the son is having a cough! Now am drooling over your Cencaru Sumbat. That's what my mom called this dish, Cencaru Sumbat. The fish is especially sweet and delicious when my dad caught this fish on one of his sea-fishing trip, really fresh! Everybody will be eager to eat this whenever my mom cooked this, and we would drizzle the oil from the fried fish over the hot rice and eat with the fish and the stuffed sambal. Delicious!
    To avoid the oil splattering all over the place, hold the wok cover with one hand, while putting the fish (may use a ladle if you wish), into the hot oil with the other hand. Cover the wok with the wok cover, leaving a little gap between the kuali and the cover on one side (away from you, facing the wall) for the hot steam to escape. Fry as usual, turn the fish and place the cover again creating the gap again, and fry until done. This would help the oil splatters under the wok cover instead of on the floor and all over the stove! Try this! It helps cleaning up easier!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Joyce! Glad to know that you love this fish too. Wow, fresh fish from fishing trip, now that's a real treat! Oh, thanks for the tip. So I guess I will use the wok cover like a shield, very much like the Roman gladiators. Hah! Hah! I will try that the next time I fry fish, which I think will be very soon :)

      Delete
    2. maaf PH, tumpang menyampok kejap ya, yes, Joyce is right! see, you dpt banyak tips dari entry ni...oh ya, PH, fyi, gabungan kicap manis ngan jus limau kasturi boleh jadi penawar kepada batuk...


      welcome to Roman Gladiator! wahahaha...with laddle's sword and jangan lupa facing the wall....

      Delete
    3. Kak Q, I akan ready sword and shield bila nak goreng ikan! Oh kicap manis + jus limau kasturi boleh dibuat penawar batuk? Sedap gabungan tu, better than ubat batuk. Akan cuba kalau ada batuk-batuk :)

      Delete
  21. OMG! This is so SEDAP! Drooling just by looking at the pictures!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi PH, sedapnya tengok ikan bakar sumbat ni....lama dah x buat...tengok sambal belacan tuh...pergghhh, sentap terliur sekejap anak tekak akak... ^__^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ummi! Ini lah jenis makanan kegemaran PH. Nasi kena masak lebih hee..hee...

      Delete
  23. oh, i learnt to sumbat ikan from one of my relative too..also use ikan cencaru but we peel off the skin of the fish as well before making the slit. normally i use chilli paste, you know those ready bought chilli paste , then saute with some onions and belachan and yeah, we squeeze lime juice over it too. now next time i can try splashing some kicap manis over the fish !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lena, I hadn't eaten cencaru for quite a while and I forgot that it has a hard skin. You can imagine I tried to eat it and realised that it is so hard hah! hah! Yes, try splashing kicap manis, it makes it even tastier!

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...