Fried Silver-Banded Whiting with Sambal Belacan
I can survive without meat, but I can’t without fish. Just a few weeks ago, I went to Chinatown. While checking out the frozen food section, I saw something that looks familiar. As I walked closer, I picked up a packet and had a closer look, I was pretty sure it was the type of fish that I haven’t eaten for a long long time. The name written on the packet is called Sillago. Ok, that didn’t ring a bell, to be honest, I didn’t know what the name was but I just know the look of it. I decided to buy a packet.
Sillago, also known as silver-banded whiting, can easily be obtained in South East Asia. The flesh is fine and smooth, and it doesn’t contain small bones. It is one of my dad’s favourites! One best way to cook silver-banded whiting is to shallow-frying. I haven’t tried other ways of cooking them, but, so far, shallow-frying is my favourite.
Sometimes, less is more, so what I did was season the fish with salt and pepper, then lightly coat with flour. That was about it. Of course, it would be too simple and plain to eat just like this. You can serve it with sweet chilli sauce or soya sauce. My favourite condiment? It has to be serving it with sambal belacan! Sambal belacan is a chilli based sauce, that tastes salty, spicy, sour and a hint of sweetness. It is very commonly used a s condiment in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Fresh green and red chillies are needed when comes to making sambal. Belacan, also known as Terasi in Indonesian. Its English name is shrimp paste. It it made from fermented group shrimp, sun dried and has very pungent smell. It has to be toasted before used. Nowadays, Belacan powder can easily be purchased at Chinese supermarket and this types doesn’t need to be toasted before use. It tastes slightly salty. Without shrimp paste, sambal is not complete!
Just before I leave you with the recipe, I would like to announce the person that gets to dine FREE at Hix Restaurant is Prem. Congratulations!
For the Fried Silver-Banded Whiting with Sambal Belacan:
300ml sunflower oil
500g silver-banded whiting, cleaned and gutted
2 tbsp plain flour
salt and pepper
2 tsp shrimp paste
40g green chillies, deseeded and chopped
60g red chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 juice of lime
1 tsp sugar
a pinch of salt
1. To make sambal belacan, firstly, toast the shrimp paste. You can do this by dry frying for a few minutes in a pan until it becomes dry and powdery. You can also wrap up with a foil and put in the oven and roast for 5 – 7 minutes at 180ºC. Leave to cool. You can use a mortar and pestle to grin the chilli or using a food processor. Put all the chopped chillies and roasted shrimp paste, grind until become a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl, mix with lime juice, sugar and salt. Serve desired amount in a small bowl, you can keep the unused sambal belacan in the fridge for a few days.
2. Heat the sunflower oil in a wok or big deep saucepan. Meanwhile, season the silver-banded whiting with salt and pepper and lightly coat with plain flour, set aside. When the oil is hot enough (put a bamboo chopstick into the oil and when bubbles start to form around it, then it is hot enough), slowly put in the fish. Fry 7-8 at a time, fry in batches, until they turn golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm and repeat for the rest. Serve with sambal belacan.