i do not know when this dish become popular in Singapore and Malaysia.. At least it was not popular when I was a kid. I only get to know this dish after my graduation 30 years ago.
When friends hangout, we always ordered this barbecued fish and one of the top choice is stingray because there are lots of meat and collagen in the skin.. The bones are big and easily separated from the meat. I was subsequently told that there are not much market value prior to the invention of this dish and it was sold very cheaply. It has no market value as it is considered as a fishy fish and can only be used to cook with Assam or curry .. With this grilled version of cooking, demand increases and hence increase the selling price of the fish. Well, it is still a relatively cheap fish and that big portion as in this illustration only cost me S$5 purchased at Gelling Sera Market.
I have two growing kids and it is impossible for me to bring them to hawker centre to savour this dish. They will not appreciate. They will complain too spicy and too much spices. Therefore, only at home I can cook and adjust the dish accordingly to suit my family’s taste buds. it looks very chilly hot, but it is not.. i have added some tomatoes and red yeast rice powder to enhance the colour.. Personally, I really prefer to be very spicy and hot but what to do with the kids around.
Sambal is a local spice mix of various herbs. I believed no two stores have the same recipe for samba and that is why there are best selling stores and those normal stores. Every stall will have their own secretive concoction of spices classified as top business secret. In general, without influences of middle eastern spices, recipe for sambal cannot run far away from a few simple, easily available herbs: shallots, garlics, lemon grass, galangal, turmeric, chilli, bleaching and dry shrimps. Of course it can become more elaborated by adding more middle eastern spices such as fennel, cumin, coriander powder, curry powder and etc.. Since this is a local recipe, after digesting many recipes, I have come with my own concoction of spice mix. It is also my intention to have the sambal to be as basic as possible with easily available ingredients.
I am pleased with my adventure and when I issued this report, I strongly believed this will suit most Chinese readers who are not familiar with local herbs, spices and there is not a need to purchase a bottle of spices and using only one tablespoon for this recipe.
As Per Wikipedia:
Sambal stingray, also known as Spicy Banana Leaf Stingray and by the Malay name Ikan bakar (barbecued fish), is a Malaysian seafood dish. Prepared by barbecuing stingray, it is served with sambal paste atop. Sambal stingray can be easily purchased at hawker centers in both Malaysia and Singapore. Stingray was previously deemed as not popular and was cheap to purchase; given the enhancement of its taste, the value of stingray in markets has since risen. Originating from Malaysia, the dish is now also popular among Singaporeans. Its Malay name is Ikan bakar, which literally means barbecued fish (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambal_stingray)
As for the dipping sauce to go with this dish, it will not be covered as I have eaten many type of dipping sauces. Some have chincalok with onions and some have very basic chilli sauce. However, the reasons that I did not share this sauce recipe is i do not think there is such a need, the sambal in itself is already a good sauce and if you wish, just prepare a bit more and dilute with lemon juices or lime juices.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 4-6 adults
- 500 grams of stingray, and cut slit at the thicker end
- 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric powder
- 5-6 calamansi or lime , juice extracted
- Salt to taste
Sambal or spice mix
- 5 fresh chillies or 10 dried chillies (2 tablespoons of chilli powder can be substituted)
- 1 lemon grass
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 shallots
- 3 cm long of ginger
- 1 medium size tomato (tomato – to boost volume)
- 1 tablespoon of bleaching (substituted with 2 tablespoons of soaked dried shrimps)
- 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste (extract juices with 3 tablespoons of water)
- 1 tablespoon of castor or brown sugar.
- Half an onion, sliced thinly
- 5 calamansi or lime
- 1/2 tomato , sliced thinly
- 12 cucumber, sliced thinly
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Marinate the fish with lemon or lime juices, salt and turmeric powder for at least 1/2 hour.
- Meanwhile, blend all the ingredients (except tamarind and sugar) for spice mix in the blender. You may need to add 2-3 tablespoons of water to facilitate the blending.
- In a pot with 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil, sauté the rempah under medium heat until the rempah is aromatic, colour darkens and oil starts to seep out from the rempah. Add the tamarind juice and sugar, stir until well combined. Off the heat. It will take 10-15 minutes to get this done. Put one to two tablespoons of sambal onto marinated fishes, spread evenly and let it marinate for another half an hour. (This step of second marinating is optional if you are running out of time)
- Pre-heat the oven to grill function at 200 degree Celsius.
- Line the baking tray with a piece of aluminium foil . On top of the aluminium foil put a piece of banana leaves. Spread half of the samba on the banana leaves. Place the marinated fish on top of the samba. Spread the other half of the samba on top of the fish and grill at the preheated oven of 200 degree Celsius for about 10 minutes. Timing will very much depends on the thickness of the fish fleshes. To ensure that the fish is properly cooked, place a skewer on the thickest part of the flesh , as long as it can be easily pierced through, it is considered as cooked.
- To serve, garnish with cut onion, additional chilli padi , drizzle with lemon or lime juices, some cut cucumbers and tomatoes. Best served hot with steaming white rice.
- Beside grilling, you can barbecue the fish too . However, it will need to be properly wrapped with aluminium foil and both side of the fish need to be barbecued.
- All sorts of fish can be used but we usually used cheaper and fishier fish for this type of strong flavoured recipe.
Lastly, I would like to apologize for my spelling mistakes as I have misspelled stingray to stingray… Ha-ha. I have no time to change all the photo and I seek your kind accommodation. By looking at the recipe, do you think that it is an difficult assignment? Are you willing to pay S$30 for a plate of fish that cost only S$5? Well, decision is up to you.
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