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Sardine sambal

Our recipes editor Alia is particularly well-suited for her job because she thrives on a variety of flavours and textures in her daily meals. But one of the very few dishes she can eat over and over (and over) again is this sardine sambal. The pre-frying step is a game-changer to get rid of the slimy texture that can sometimes come with tinned fish as well as add a toasty flavour and texture.

Sardine sambal

by Alia Ali
Alia Ali

Our recipes editor Alia is particularly well-suited for her job because she thrives on a variety of flavours and textures in her daily meals. But one of the very few dishes she can eat over and over (and over) again is this sardine sambal. The pre-frying step is a game-changer to get rid of the slimy texture that can sometimes come with tinned fish as well as add a toasty flavour and texture.

Servings: 4

Prep time: Quick

Servings: 4

Prep time: Quick

1 large tin sardines in tomato sauce (425g)

125ml vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced

6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

2 large fresh red chillies, sliced

Cili padi, sliced (optional, as many as preferred)

1 tbsp cili boh (optional)

½ tbsp tamarind paste OR 100ml tamarind juice extracted from a 2″ chunk of pulp (optional)

2 calamansi limes, juiced

  1. Open the tin of sardines and tip the contents into a bowl. Separate the sardine pieces, and reserve the tomato sauce.
  2. Set a wok or frying pan on the stove. Add the vegetable oil, and arrange the sardine pieces in the oil. Cover the pan, then turn the heat on to medium. The sizzle of frying will soon be heard. Do not open the cover! Cook for about 5 minutes, and ignore the splutters and pops contained in the pan.
  3. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat. Wait for the sound of frying to cease, then open the lid. Use a cooking spatula to flip the fish onto the other side, making sure all the pieces have contact with the oil. Cover the pan again, and turn the heat back on to medium. Keep the cover on, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  4. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and wait for the sound of frying to stop again before opening the lid. Lift the fish out of the pan into a separate bowl and set aside.
  5. Using the same pan with the oil from frying the fish, turn the heat back on to medium. Add the onions, garlic, and chillies that were sliced earlier. Fry these aromatics for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
  6. Add the cili boh if using, and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the tamarind paste or juice if using, and stir well to combine.
  7. Stir in the reserved tomato sauce from the tin, and cook for about 2-3 minutes until it begins to bubble. This will help remove the metallic taste from the sauce.
  8. Return the fried fish to the pan. At this point, you can stir to break up the chunks of fish into smaller pieces, or you can carefully mix to keep the fish pieces intact.
  9. Turn off the heat, and squeeze the lime over the cooked dish.
  10. Serve hot with plain white rice.

Tips

  • Alia heavily prefers Ayam Brand tinned sardines as the tomato sauce is to her liking. There are many brands out there; try different ones to see which tomato sauce you like.
  • You are welcome to use a clean pan after frying the fish to continue cooking the rest of the dish, but using the same pan means that a) the oil is already smokey and flavoured from the fish frying, and b) you will save yourself some cleaning up.

Ingredients

1 large tin sardines in tomato sauce (425g)

125ml vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced

6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

2 large fresh red chillies, sliced

Cili padi, sliced (optional, as many as preferred)

1 tbsp cili boh (optional)

½ tbsp tamarind paste OR 100ml tamarind juice extracted from a 2″ chunk of pulp (optional)

2 calamansi limes, juiced

Directions

  1. Open the tin of sardines and tip the contents into a bowl. Separate the sardine pieces, and reserve the tomato sauce.
  2. Set a wok or frying pan on the stove. Add the vegetable oil, and arrange the sardine pieces in the oil. Cover the pan, then turn the heat on to medium. The sizzle of frying will soon be heard. Do not open the cover! Cook for about 5 minutes, and ignore the splutters and pops contained in the pan.
  3. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat. Wait for the sound of frying to cease, then open the lid. Use a cooking spatula to flip the fish onto the other side, making sure all the pieces have contact with the oil. Cover the pan again, and turn the heat back on to medium. Keep the cover on, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  4. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and wait for the sound of frying to stop again before opening the lid. Lift the fish out of the pan into a separate bowl and set aside.
  5. Using the same pan with the oil from frying the fish, turn the heat back on to medium. Add the onions, garlic, and chillies that were sliced earlier. Fry these aromatics for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
  6. Add the cili boh if using, and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the tamarind paste or juice if using, and stir well to combine.
  7. Stir in the reserved tomato sauce from the tin, and cook for about 2-3 minutes until it begins to bubble. This will help remove the metallic taste from the sauce.
  8. Return the fried fish to the pan. At this point, you can stir to break up the chunks of fish into smaller pieces, or you can carefully mix to keep the fish pieces intact.
  9. Turn off the heat, and squeeze the lime over the cooked dish.
  10. Serve hot with plain white rice.

Tips

  • Alia heavily prefers Ayam Brand tinned sardines as the tomato sauce is to her liking. There are many brands out there; try different ones to see which tomato sauce you like.
  • You are welcome to use a clean pan after frying the fish to continue cooking the rest of the dish, but using the same pan means that a) the oil is already smokey and flavoured from the fish frying, and b) you will save yourself some cleaning up.

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© Copyright Periuk 2021

© Copyright Periuk 2021