Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ikan Goreng Bercili / Fried Fish with Chillies - (MFF N9)

This is a very last minute submission for Negeri Sembilan's month for Malaysian Food Fest (MFF). Hody is the host for this month. I wanna support her so much and I tell myself I must create something for Negeri Sembilan!
Ikan Goreng Bercili - The minang cuisine from Minangkabau people.
The Minangkabau people of Sumatra came to settle down in Negeri Sembilan in the 15th century. And that is why, Minangkabau people has become part of the population in Negeri Sembilan. Their staple ingredients are usually rice, fish, coconut, vegetables and chilli. Yes! Chilli! Spiciness is a characteristic of Minangkabau food. The most commonly used herbs and spices are chilli, turmeric, ginger and galangal.
I fought my way through the rush hour right after work. Telling myself that I must make this dish tonight. From buying fresh fish, prepare ingredients, to cooking and cleaning. With the time limitation, it's really not easy. Not that the dish is difficult. Time limitation is always the challenging part you know. But I did it!
I wanted to use Tilapia for this dish actually. But no luck today. I couldn't get fresh Tilapia. By the time when I knock off and rush to the super mart, I already quite late. Not much of a choice tho. I make do with Sea Bream instead. Sea Bream is cheap and taste good too. This two fishes cost me less than S$4.00. Infact, you can use any fish you want for this dish. It's really up to individual.
(Recipe Source : Wendyinkk & Atie Aizam with slight modification)
  • 1 Sea Bream or Tilapia or any other fish. 
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder 
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Cooking Oil 
Chilli Paste
  • 4 Red Chillies
  • 3 Bird's eye chillies (you could use green or red color)
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 inch Ginger
  • 4 cloves Garlic 
  • 1 heaped tsp Tamarind Paste + 2 tbsp Water
You could adjust the ratio of your chilli paste. You want it more fiery, add more bird's eye chillies. I didn't strictly follow their recipe. I just take it as a reference and adjust to my preferred taste. Max can't take too fiery food. He will complain. So, I reduced the amount of bird's eye chillies drastically. I'm glad that he didn't complain. He said the spiciness is ok for him to accept.
  1. Clean and scored the fish. Use kitchen towel to pat dry.
  2. Marinate fish with salt and turmeric powder. Rub all over and inside out. 
  3. Pound the chilli paste ingredients together. You could use grinder to coarsely grind it too. But the result would be different. Pounding definitely gives better result.
  4. Rub tamarind paste with 2 tbsp of water. Discard the seeds, and pour the tamarind juice on the chilli paste. Mix well. Set aside.  
  5. Heat a frying wok, add in cooking oil. Once oil is hot enough, put in the fish. Immediately turn the heat to medium low, fry both sides until golden brown. Once the fish is done, dish up and set aside.
  6. Pour the oil (that you used to fry fish) on a bowl. You will see some residue at the bottom of the wok. Discard them. Give your wok a wash, and dry it with kitchen towel.
  7. Return the wok to the stove. Heat up the oil that you used to fry fish. Saute the chilli paste and tamarind juice until fragrant and glossy. Taste, and season with salt (and sugar if needed). 
  8. Spread the cooked chilli paste on both side of the fish. Garnish and serve. 
Note :
  1. I only used 2 tbsp water to rub the tamarind paste. Reason is because I don't want too much liquid. I only want the flavour of the tamarind. So, very minimum water is used to rub the tamarind paste.
  2. Pouring the oil on a bowl, discard the residue at the bottom of the wok, and washing the wok sounds tedious. But if you skipped this step, and straightaway pour your chilli paste to fry, your chilli paste will mix with unwanted residues that left behind after frying the fish. Look at the picture. My bowl of oil is clean even though it is used to fry fish earlier.
  3. Sugar is to neutralize the spiciness of the chilli paste. I prefer to add some. But it's up to you.
Step 2 - Marinate fish with salt and turmeric powder.
Step 3 - Pound the chilli paste ingredients together.
And now, the fish is well fried. Pour the oil on a bowl, discard the oil's residue at the bottom of the wok, and you will see clean oil on the bowl. Use this clean oil to sautee the chilli paste and tamarind juice later.
This dish requires much lesser effort compared to my Ikan Gerang Asam that I cooked for Melaka Month. So, to me, this dish is pretty easy! And this dish looks pretty impressive too.
Don't get freaked out by the thick chilli paste spreaded on top and thinking that this would taste too fiery. When you are cooking it, you could adjust your own fiery level. It's all about individual preference! :)
I am submitting this post to MFF Negeri Sembilan month hosted by Hody Loh of Cook For You & Me.


  1. Annie, you really rushed this huh? And your dish turned out very well. Bravo for your semangat!

    1. Memang semangat lah. Must support kawan mah. Hehehe.. I'm the host next month! Hehehe :D