Ikan cili garam is simply fried fish served with a simple chilli paste. ‘Ikan’ means fish while ‘cili garam’ literally refers to chilli salt. This is about the homemade chilli paste which uses very simple ingredients namely chillies, shrimp paste, shallots and garlic. In this recipe, I baked the fish instead of frying to avoid using too much oil. Deep frying the fish ensures its crispiness. However, baking the fish will also result in the same.
Heat oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Test if the oil is heated to the right temperature by dipping a wooden chopstick or skewers into the oil. Little bubbles will appear around the wooden chopstick if the 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 has a stronger taste which may 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. It makes any dull fried or baked fish “comes to life”. It can also be prepared in advance and kept refrigerated for up to 5 days or stored frozen for up to 6 months.
You may add some calamansi juice to further enhance the taste of this dish. Do not discard the leftover chilli paste. Savour it by mixing with plain white rice. It will certainly stirs up the appetite.
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 oil over medium heat and stir-fry the blended ingredients until fragrant and the colour of the chilli paste turns into a darker shade of red. Add salt to taste.
Remove fish from oven and place chilli paste on the fish. Serve with a few slices of calamansi or green lime.
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