Sambal Stuffed Hardtail Scad (Ikan Cencaru)

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Ready :  60 mins [Prep : 30 mins † Cooking : 30 mins]
Serve :  4 (one fish per person) with other dishes
Generic :  PanFry
Level :  Moderately Tricky
Idle :  NonePrintable Recipe.

Lip-smacking, Spicy and Appetizing Delicious Fish

Unlike the usual steamed or deep fried fish dishes, this Malay Sambal Stuffed Scad is simply absolutely mouthwatering and appetizing. The star of the dish is the sambal – spicy, salty with a tad of sweetness and tanginess from the tamarind. Stuffed with the Sambal and then pan-fried, deep-fried or grilled, these cooking methods produces a slightly charred rugged unappetizing look but believe me, the tough skin characteristic of the Hardtail Scad will keep the inside flesh firm and tender while the outside gets a little crispy. This dish is seriously lip-smacking, mouthwatering, spicy and appetizing delicious and like any SEA dishes, it is best served with White/Plain rice! The most difficult/tedious part of this dish is probably preparing the Sambal, as it takes a little time to ground and sauté, but once that is done, preparing the fish is a breeze. Ooo, and there is a tiny little trick that U need to know when it comes to eating the fish..Lol.. as explained at the end of this post. Here is The VianD’s version of Sambal Stuffed Hardtail Scad (Ikan Cencaru).




  • 4 Hardtail Scad (Ikan Cencaru) – with the head attach.


  • Tamarind mixture, Balacan (Shrimp paste), soaked Dried Shrimps.
  • Lemon grass (just the stalk), Fresh Chillies, soaked Dried chilies, Onion (sliced some for later use), Ginger, Shallots, Garlic, Chilli Padi (Birds Eye Chilli) – all roughly cubed (just for easy Blending). Curry leave – optional. (** Note : Just a handful of everything; if U prefer a stronger flavor of a certain ingredient, simply add a little extra of that ingredient (no rocket scientific measurement here). Always taste your Seasoning !!!


  • Lime (halved).



There are two parts; first – preparing the Sambal and then – stuffing and frying the fish.

The Sambal can be prepare way in advance.

  • Step 1 (SAMBAL) : Blend all Sambal ingredients (except the Curry leaves) into a smooth paste. Leave aside a small amount of the sliced Onion for later use.
  • Step 2 : Heat up some oil, saute the Curry leaves till aromatic. Then add in the Sambal paste in low heat. Stirred constantly to prevent the bottom from burning.
  • Step 3 : After about 20 minutes, the paste will get really aromatic and U can see the oil separating to the top.
  • Step 4 : Add in the sliced Onion that was kept aside earlier. This will give that extra texture – optional. Add the Tamarind mixture, Salt and Sugar to taste.
    Saute a while more till the Onion soften, set aside.
  • Step 5 (STUFFING AND FRYING THE FISH) : Meanwhile, make two slits lengthwise along the dorsal side of the fish (one on each side) to form a pocket.
  • Step 6 : Stuff the slits with the cooked sambal, also a little in the fish stomach. Press firmly.
  • Step 7 : Heat oil to smoking hot. Lower to medium and fry for about 10 minutes (or more until lightly charred) before flipping them over to fry the other side.
    Avoid flipping over too many times to prevent the sambal from getting displaced. Dish out and let it rest for a few minutes to drain excess oil. Serve alongside with some halved lime.

How To Dig In


  • Hardtail Scad has very hard and tough skin. But it is exactly this skin-texture that keep the meat inside firm and tender when pan-fried, deep-fried or grilled. So, there is a skill involved when consuming Hardtail Scad..LoL. Use your fork to peel the skin and lift it up and the skin should peel off quite easily, leaving just the meat !!! Get your hands into it – the best way to enjoy this is to eat it with your fingers.

Copyright © 2014 The VianD · All Rights Reserved


2 Comments Add yours

  1. theviandd says:

    Yes, Aziz..sure U can do that and I am sure it tastes really good too. But this is all abt trying the authentic way. Btw, thks for visiting and commenting…


  2. Abd Aziz Abd Hamid says:

    There are of sambal pastes on the market
    But i like most the tom yam paste. Just stuff the paste and wrap by aluminium foil. Cook inside air fryer and the result is juicy scad.

    Liked by 1 person

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