‘Ikan cili garam’ is simply fried fish served with a simple chilli paste. In ‘ikan’ means fish while ‘cili garam’ means chilli salt whereby it refers to the homemade chilli paste which uses very simply ingredients namely chillies, shrimp paste, shallots and garlic. In this recipe, I baked the fish instead of frying it to avoid using much oil. Deep frying the fish ensures its crispiness. However, baking the fish will also make the skin crispy.
Heat up oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Test if oil is heated up using a wooden chopstick or skewers. Little bubbles will appear around the wooden chopstick immediately if oil is ready.
In the video, I used seabass but if you prefer other types of fishes, I would recommend that you choose white fish like cod, grouper or bream. Fishes like salmon can be used but it does have a stronger taste which my affect the overall flavour of the dish.
As the fish bakes in the oven, you can start preparing the chilli paste which is the highlight of the dish. This chilli paste makes any dull fried or baked fish “come to life”. The chilli paste can also be prepared in advance to be refrigerated up to 5 days or stored frozen for up to 6 months.
You may add some calamansi juice for to further enhance the taste of this dish. The best part when having this is mixing plain white rice with the leftover chilli paste. You know you need more!
Baked Fish with Chilli Paste is also known as: Ikan Cili Garam Nyonya
Sprinkle some salt over the fish. Place the fish in a baking pan and pour oil over it. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and grill fish for 40 minutes.
Blend garlic, shrimp paste, shallots and chillies. Heat up oil over medium heat and stir fry the blended ingredients until fragrant. The colour of the chilli paste should turn into a darker shade of red when it is ready. Add salt to taste.
Remove fish from oven and place chilli paste on the fish. Serve with a few slices of calamansi lime or green lime.
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