Sambal Grilled Mackerel

It was just another grocery day at PAK’nSAVE‎ Clarence Street. Right after the veggies and fruits area, we met the seafood section. To my delight, I saw fresh looking mackerels peering out of the red fish bin. Instantly, I felt my brain (and tummy) screaming for a fish dish. The one and only dish that I’ve been aching to make. Sambal Grilled Mackerel. Enough said.


  • 2 jack mackerels
  • 2 large red onions
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 10-15 dried chilli (soaked)
  • 4-5 candlenuts (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 tbsp muscovado sugar (optional)
  • 1 tamarind piece
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 4-5 pieces of kaffir leaves (torn)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Clean and gut the fish well. To prepare the fish, coat the fish with enough salt. Cut two long slits along the dorsal fins. image
  2. Blitz onion, garlic, dried chillies, candle nuts into a paste. Heat pan to medium heat and add 1-2 tbsp of oil. When pan is ready, fry the paste until the oil separates.
  3. Add lemongrass and continue to stir.
  4. Next, add tomato paste and kaffir leaves and continue to stir until combined.
  5. Correct taste with salt and muscovado. Set aside to cool.image
  6. Stuff the sambal paste into the slits as shown. image
  7. I used a stove top griddle but you are welcome to use any flat pans or even straight onto the barbie grill if you like. If you are using griddle or pans, just make sure that the fish would be able to fit. If you are not using non-stick, add a little oil to avoid the fish from sticking to the pan.image
  8. Flip it over once the flesh is cooked and has a nice char on it. A fish turner would prove handy as we want the sambal paste to still be intact.

Serve with warm rice. Or just on it own. Heavenly.imagep/s: I’ve tried using mullet fish and it taste really good too. But personally, I prefer mackerels because the CRISPY skin holds the fish together and doesn’t break apart easily.

psstt: Would like to know if there’s anywhere else I can get fish and seafood other than Paknsave, Countdown or New world in Hamilton? Appreciate it. 🙂







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