Sambal Tumis Ikan Bilis is an accompaniment to a very popular Malaysian favourite, Nasi Lemak. Of course, it’s also delish when added to just about anything – which I do, like on fried noodles, plain rice, stirfried with some vegetables or even on bread.. 🙂

Sambal Tumis Ikan Bilis 3recipe adapted from “food canon”


  • 40-50 pcs dried chili, depending on how spiciness
  • 20 pcs shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp gula melaka (brown palm sugar) or brown sugar, or to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3-4 tsp salt, to taste
  • 150ml or 1 cup vegetable or peanut oil
  • 2 handfuls of dried small anchovies or ikan bilis, washed, soaked in water, drained and dried – optional

Sambal Tumis Ikan Bilis 5


  1. Cut off ends of dried chillies and then into 2 using a pair of scissors. Remove seeds and soak dried chili in hot water for abt 20 mins. Then drain.
  2. Blend dried chillies with shallots coarsely.
  3. Heat up oil in wok. (sufficient oil’s needed to make it fragrant. Excess oil can be spooned out later.)
  4. (If ikan bilis is to be added, then fry them on low heat till browned, crisp and fragrant.)
  5. Add blended chili and shallots with 2 tsp salt. After abt 10 mins, add sliced onion.
  6. Cook on low heat for abt 45 mins, stirring occasionally to prevent sambal from sticking on wok. When oil bubbles and surfaces to top of sambal, adjust taste with gula melaka and tamarind paste abt 3-4 tbsp of each. Add more salt, if needed. (Don’t overdo the gula melaka as a balanced taste of sour, salty and sweet’s to be gained.)
  7. (Also add fried ikan bilis, if using and stir to mix into sambal.)
  8. Serve at room temperature.

Flavoured FavaBeans Rice n Sambal Tumis 1

It takes time, patience and effort but it’s definitely worth it.. 🙂


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