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Hu chee rumpah (Sambal-stuffed fried fish)
Photo: Michelle Yip, Plates: Ilham Ceramic Studio
A hand is holding down a whole fish on a plastic chopping board. Another hand is holding a knife and making a slit into the fish.
Photo: Michelle Yip
A hand is holding down a whole fish on a plastic chopping board. Another hand is holding a knife and making a slit into the fish.
Photo: Michelle Yip
A hand is showing the two slits in a whole fish on a plastic chopping board.
Photo: Michelle Yip
A hand is holding the slit open on a plastic chopping board and stuffing it with sambal using a spoon.
Photo: Michelle Yip.
Two hands are showing the fully stuffed fish on a plastic chopping board.
Photo: Michelle Yip.

This Nyonya take on sambal-stuffed fried fish may be one of the best versions to come across our plates, owing in no small part to the addition of thinly sliced makrut lime leaves in the sambal. The lime leaves here add a heady aroma that sets this version apart from the Malay-style cencaru sumbat you might find at a nasi campur stall. Estimate a whole medium-sized fish per person—it’s that good.

 

Recipe originally appears in Nonya Flavours; shared with permission by author Debbie Teoh.

Hu chee rumpah (Sambal-stuffed fried fish)

by Debbie Teoh

This Nyonya take on sambal-stuffed fried fish may be one of the best versions to come across our plates, owing in no small part to the addition of thinly sliced makrut lime leaves in the sambal. The lime leaves here add a heady aroma that sets this version apart from the Malay-style cencaru sumbat you might find at a nasi campur stall. Estimate a whole medium-sized fish per person—it’s that good.

 

Recipe originally appears in Nonya Flavours; shared with permission by author Debbie Teoh.

Servings: 4

Hu chee rumpah (Sambal-stuffed fried fish)
Photo: Michelle Yip, Plates: Ilham Ceramic Studio
A hand is holding down a whole fish on a plastic chopping board. Another hand is holding a knife and making a slit into the fish.
Photo: Michelle Yip
A hand is holding down a whole fish on a plastic chopping board. Another hand is holding a knife and making a slit into the fish.
Photo: Michelle Yip
A hand is showing the two slits in a whole fish on a plastic chopping board.
Photo: Michelle Yip
A hand is holding the slit open on a plastic chopping board and stuffing it with sambal using a spoon.
Photo: Michelle Yip.
Two hands are showing the fully stuffed fish on a plastic chopping board.
Photo: Michelle Yip.

Servings: 4

SAMBAL:

8-10 fresh red chillies

10 dried red chillies

3 cloves garlic, peeled

20 shallots, peeled

1 thumb-sized piece fresh turmeric, peeled

2 tsp fermented shrimp paste (belacan)

1 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)

1 ½ tsp sugar (or to taste)

10 makrut lime leaves (daun limau purut), destemmed and thinly sliced

4 tbsp vegetable oil

 

FISH:

4 whole medium-sized hardtail mackerel (ikan cencaru), gutted and cleaned

125ml vegetable oil

 

  1. Pound the fresh and dried red chillies, garlic, shallots, turmeric, and belacan in a mortar and pestle until smooth, or grind them in a food processor.
  2. Heat a wok over medium heat. Add 4 tbsp of vegetable oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the pounded/ground ingredients and fry for about 8-10 minutes, or until the oil begins to separate from the darkened mixture (peach minyak).
  3. Add salt and sugar to taste, then stir in the thinly sliced makrut lime leaves. Mix well then remove from the wok to cool. Clean out the wok.
  4. While the spice mixture is cooling, prepare the fish. Lay the fish flat on a chopping board. Hold the fish down with one hand, while using the tip of a knife with your other hand to make a deep slit next to the dorsal side/top of the fish (image 1). Turn the fish over and make another slit on the other side of the fish (image 2). The fish should now have two deep slits on either side of its dorsal fin (image 3).
  5. Using clean hands, carefully stuff the cooled sambal paste into the slits of the fish (image 4). The fully stuffed fish should look something like image 5. Reserve the leftover spice paste (if any) as extra sambal to be eaten later.
  6. Heat up the cleaned wok over medium heat. Pour in ½ cup of vegetable oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, gently lower the stuffed fish into the oil, making sure not to overcrowd the wok. Fry for about 2-4 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked (depending on thickness of fish). Continue with remaining fish, if any.
  7. Serve hot with white rice.

Tips

  • Feel free to make extra sambal for eating with rice, but be sure to separate the sambal for stuffing and the sambal for eating directly. This is because cross-contamination may happen as you are stuffing the raw fish.

Ingredients

SAMBAL:

8-10 fresh red chillies

10 dried red chillies

3 cloves garlic, peeled

20 shallots, peeled

1 thumb-sized piece fresh turmeric, peeled

2 tsp fermented shrimp paste (belacan)

1 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)

1 ½ tsp sugar (or to taste)

10 makrut lime leaves (daun limau purut), destemmed and thinly sliced

4 tbsp vegetable oil

 

FISH:

4 whole medium-sized hardtail mackerel (ikan cencaru), gutted and cleaned

125ml vegetable oil

 

Directions

  1. Pound the fresh and dried red chillies, garlic, shallots, turmeric, and belacan in a mortar and pestle until smooth, or grind them in a food processor.
  2. Heat a wok over medium heat. Add 4 tbsp of vegetable oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the pounded/ground ingredients and fry for about 8-10 minutes, or until the oil begins to separate from the darkened mixture (peach minyak).
  3. Add salt and sugar to taste, then stir in the thinly sliced makrut lime leaves. Mix well then remove from the wok to cool. Clean out the wok.
  4. While the spice mixture is cooling, prepare the fish. Lay the fish flat on a chopping board. Hold the fish down with one hand, while using the tip of a knife with your other hand to make a deep slit next to the dorsal side/top of the fish (image 1). Turn the fish over and make another slit on the other side of the fish (image 2). The fish should now have two deep slits on either side of its dorsal fin (image 3).
  5. Using clean hands, carefully stuff the cooled sambal paste into the slits of the fish (image 4). The fully stuffed fish should look something like image 5. Reserve the leftover spice paste (if any) as extra sambal to be eaten later.
  6. Heat up the cleaned wok over medium heat. Pour in ½ cup of vegetable oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, gently lower the stuffed fish into the oil, making sure not to overcrowd the wok. Fry for about 2-4 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked (depending on thickness of fish). Continue with remaining fish, if any.
  7. Serve hot with white rice.

Tips

  • Feel free to make extra sambal for eating with rice, but be sure to separate the sambal for stuffing and the sambal for eating directly. This is because cross-contamination may happen as you are stuffing the raw fish.

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© Copyright Periuk 2021