Terengganu Speciality #2a: Sambal Ikan Aye (for Nasi Lemak)

I have to confess…. this recipe is crafted based on my own knowledge of cooking nasi lemak sambal and with a lot of trial & errors that I came up with this recipe.

I first cooked nasi lemak while studying overseas. Till today whenever my uni-mates and I meet, they would tell me that they still miss my nasi lemak.  🙂   Back then it was a cheat version using bottled chilli found in Asian grocer store, add some sweet onions and ikan bilis (which I usually would bring from homeland) and voila! we have the sambal for nasi lemak.

This version is slightly more complicated and more similar to the Terengganu version’s of sambal nasi lemak, especially since I’m using Ikan Aye (mackerel tuna fish). For a more simplified version, you can cook just the sambal without adding the fish, or you can just add ikan bilis instead.




Singgang Ikan Aye – base for Fish Stock


Sambal Nasi Lemak Ikan Aye

3kg of Ikan Aye/ Ikan Tongkol (or the Chinese called it “blood fish”) / Mackerel Tuna
(usually we’ll get about two of the 1++kg fish and cut the fish up into 3-4 big chunks per fish)
4-5 pieces of asam keping (asam gelugor)
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 big onion – quartered
a few slices of lengkuas/ galangal
2-3 tbsp salt (depending on how much water is used as the fish stock need to be well salted)
Enough water to cover the fish for boiling (to be used as fish stock)

1.5 kg of red onion
—  1 kg roughly chopped, blended with approx 5-6 tbsp of cooking oil into paste
—  0.5 kg cut into smaller cubes or slices (for texture)
40 gm of dried chilli – soak, then blended with ½ cup of water into chilli paste
5-6 shallots – sliced
4-6 tbsp of cooking oil
3 tbsp salt ^^
1 tbsp asam paste^^ (I use Adabi brand – Asam Jawa Xtra) or you can use asam jawa and mix with a few tbsp of water to get the asam juice
12-15 tbsp sugar^^ (substitute with 2-3 tbsp of palm sugar if you have)
The fish stock from the singgang
Note: ** the above measurement is used if adding the fish stock from the “singgang ikan aye”;
if cooking just the sambal (without the singgang), the seasoning maybe slightly different:
3 tbsp salt
2.5 – 3 tbsp asam paste
15-18 tbsp sugar
9-10 cups of water or more


For the Singgang
1. In a big pot, put the water to boil with all the ingredients except the fish. Once the ingredients soften/ break down, add in the fish and boil for at least another 30 mins or the fish is cooked. Close the lid and leave it to cool in the pot.
2. Best to cook this overnight or a day earlier before making the sambal

For the sambal
1. In a hot wok, add the sliced shallots with the 4-6 tbsp of oil and fry till shallots are browned.
2. Then add the blended onions. Cooked this till the moisture from the onion has reduced and the onions has a slightly brownish tinge.
3. Add the chopped onions and stir till the onions turned opaque/ soften
4. Add in the chilli paste. Stir it till the “raw” chilli smell is reduced, and then add in the fish stock and seasoning.
5. Simmer it in low/mid-fire, stirring occasionally. Simmer for approx 2+ hours or till the sambal “pecah minyak” – ie. you will see sheen of oil with the sambal is bubbling. The sambal will also turned into darker shade of red.
6. Once it’s season to taste and have the right texture, lowered off heat and at this point, if you have the fish, add it in and let it simmer for approximately 5-10mins.


Sambal (while cooking)

When cooking this, I’d usually cook a big pot of the sambal and would invite my family/ relatives or close friends over for a “makan” (eating) session. Of course the sambal is served with the nasi lemak rice (coconut rice) and condiments. Any leftovers can be kept and eaten over the next few days. Great to make into sandwiches or topped it with instant noodles too.

Note: the above recipe could probably served between 20-25 pax (or more, depending on how much each would eat)


Nasi Lemak ala Terengganu