Mackerels (ikan kembung in Malay) are great for grilling, and this Malay infusion in marinade works wonderfully to balance the strong flavours of the fish. This only takes minutes to prepare, ideal for when you want a tasty meal with minimal effort. You can substitute other fish if you’re not a fan of mackerel, but similarly oily fish are better for grilling than others.
1 medium mackerel, cleaned, left on the bone
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chilli paste
½ teaspoon belacan
½ medium onion
2 garlic cloves
A slice of ginger
1 teaspoon of galangal paste
1 red chilli
1 lemongrass stalk
Slices of lime
Blend the marinade ingredients with a splash of water until smooth. Leave three shallow slashes each side of the mackerel to allow the flavours of your marinade to penetrate and for the fish to cook quicker.
Coat fish well and allow it to marinade for about 10-15 minutes. Remove the excess marinade off the fish, stuffing only a spoonful in the fish. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over it and grill the fish for about eight minutes or until the skin is browned.
The excess marinade is fried in a spoonful of oil with the chilli paste and belacan for about five minutes to make a sambal sauce for the fish.
Serve the fish with sambal, slices of lime and cucumber. It works wonderfully with plain white rice.
** Those who aren’t big fans of spicy dishes can leave out the chillies and belacan (which is not spicy, but will not be required in this dish without the chillies) to make an equally tasty but mild kembung bakar.