I have said this before, and I will say it again: there are few things in life greater than simply grilled fish. The flesh is sweet, though riddled with tiny pin bones. Utterly divine eaten on its own, or with sambal bawang, air asam or sambal kicap.
"Utterly divine just eaten on its own..."
1 whole ikan terubuk, gutted, cleaned, but do not scale!
2 large red chillies
6 bird’s eye chillies, more if you want it hotter
1 inch piece of belacan
2 small shallots
2 limes (limau kasturi)
Get grilled ikan terubuk right and the skin crisps up into a chewy, sticky-sweet delight, almost like fish candy.
Terubuk is notorious for being riddled with little bones. To overcome this, get someone to hold one end of the fish while you hold the other. Tug gently – this aligns the bones so it is easier to pick out later. Do this before oiling and salting the fish.
Rub oil all over the fish. Sprinkle salt evenly on both sides of the fish.
Place the fish gently into a dry medium-hot wok. Cover with foil and let it fry gently for about 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove the foil and turn the fish over. Be careful not to let the skin stick to the wok; if it is, scrape gently so it comes off in one piece.
Cover the fish again and let fry for another 10 minutes.
The fish is cooked when a metal skewer inserted into the flesh behind its head (the thickest part) comes out warm. If it is hot, it is overcooked. If it is cold, fry a little longer in 1 minute increments.
Pound the chillies, belacan and shallots together until fine. Squeeze the juice from the limes into it and mix well.
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