Asian recipes/ Sauces, dressings & condiments/ Side Dishes

Sambal Ikan Bilis (Malaysian Asnjovis Sambal)

27 September 2020

I can never get enough of Asian food, and then I mean all Asian food. Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Korean, Malaysian, just all of them. There is something about how the flavours mix and match together so well, either prepared on the spot and eaten straight away, or prepared ahead of time so the flavours marry well together. Yum.

In preparation of the Nasi Lemak dish I’m making tomorrow (the de facto national dish of Malaysia) I already started on the sambal . One of the main ingredients in this sambal are small dried ansjovis (Ikan Bilis), they make it pretty salty which makes it more of a condiment than a side dish. But hey, I don’t blame you if you scoop up an extra spoon, it’s hard to resist.

Recipe inspired by @recipepocket

Sambal Ikan Bilis

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
Condiments Asian
Prep Time: 10 Cooking Time: 30 Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 15 dried red (lombok) chilis
  • 3 fresh red chillies
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion – roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 20 grams Ikan Bilis (dried anchovies) washed and dried
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • 150 ml water
  • 2 tsp Tamarind paste concentrate
  • 3 tsp (palm) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • To add at end (optional) 1/2 cup of Ikan Bilis washed and dried



Soak the dried chillies in warm water for 5 minutes to soften, then drain.


Blend the chillies, garlic, onion, shrimp paste and ikan bilis in a food processor to form a paste.


Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the blended paste.


Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stirring all the time, until the colour darkens slightly.


Mix in the water, tamarind paste, sugar, and salt.


Continue to cook and stir for another 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and most of the liquid has reduced.


Adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding more salt, sugar or tamarind paste if required.


Store in a glass jar in the fridge.

Optional Addition


After you have made the sambal you can mix in some crispy ikan bilis.


Wash the ikan bilis, drain and pat dry with kitchen paper towel. Set aside. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a frying pan and fry the ikan bilis in batches until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the pan and dry the excess oil with a paper towel.


The crispy ikan bilis can be added to the sambal when the sambal is cold.

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