KitchenTigress: Sambal Stingray (II)

Sambal Stingray (II)

Sambal stingray is stingray wing barbecued on a banana leaf and smothered in sambal. The spicy dish has many fans in Singapore and Malaysia. Good sambal stringray is charred yet juicy and smooth. It's topped with sambal that's super aromatic and moreish.

Tips for making great sambal stingray:

1. Stale fish is disgusting. The best fish for eating is one that's still swimming just before you eat it. If that's not available, then at least one that's firm, shiny, and hasn't stopped swimming for too long.

2. The age of the fish is important too. Younger fish have smoother, silkier meat.

How do you tell if the wing you're buying is young?

Look at the size. Young ones have small, thin fins. And small fins are cut triangular. If you see a thick, rectangular piece, that'd be from an old fish with huge fins.

3. The banana leaf for sambal stingray is better frozen. Fresh ones burn easily under the grill but after freezing and thawing, the waxy leaves tolerate much higher temperatures.

4. The sambal that's spread on the stingray can make or break the dish. Use the best ingredients and patiently frying the spices over low heat. You have to make a good sambal before you can make good sambal stingray.

5. Grill the fish using high heat, so that the skin is charred.

6. Don't overcook the fish, or it won't be moist and juicy.

7. Watch my video.

How to make sambal stingray

Step-by-step guide

The keys to good sambal stingray are fresh and young stingray, good sambal, high heat and not overcooking the fish. Banana leaf wins extra brownie points for presentation.

sambal stingray

Sambal (makes about 1 cup)
  • 150 g shallots
  • 75 g garlic
  • 15 g ginger
  • 40 g lemongrass, tender, non-bitter part only
  • 50 g red chillies
  • 15 g dried chillies – trim stems, cut 2 cm long, soak in warm water till soft (about 30 minutes), squeeze dry, discard water

  • 15 g belacan (fermented shrimp paste) – roast at 150°C or dry-fry over medium-low heat till dry and crumbly
  • 20 g tamarind paste – mash with 2 tbsp hot water, drain and discard seeds and pulp

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 30 g palm sugar, roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt

  • 1 piece stingray wing, 400-500 g – rinse, drain, cut 2-3 slits along grain in thicker end
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 piece frozen banana leaf – thaw, rinse, trim to fit baking tray
  • calamansi limes, halved
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • tomato or pineapple wedges
  • cucumber slices

  1. Wash, trim, peel and roughly chop shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and red chillies as appropriate. Grind or pound with dried chillies and belachan till smooth.

  2. Stir-fry sambal paste with vegetable oil over medium heat till fragrant and colour darkens, about 15 minutes. Add palm sugar. Stir-fry till dissolved. Add tamarind water and salt. Stir-fry till oil separates. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat. Leave till cool.

  3. You should have about 1 cup. Use about ½ cup for 400-500 g stingray. Remaining ½ cup may be stored for a few weeks refrigerated.

  4. Preheat grill to 230°C (450°F). Line baking tray with aluminium foil. Lightly brush with vegetable oil.

  5. Place stingray on baking tray, white side up. Season lightly with salt, including slits. Grill till 70-80% cooked, about 5 minutes depending on thickness of fish. Spread with sambal, thinly. Grill till top of stingray feels firm when pressed chopsticks, about 5 minutes.

  6. Lift stingray from baking tray with a spatula. Place banana leaf in tray. Flip stingray onto banana leaf. Season lightly with salt. Grill till 70-80% cooked, about 7 minutes depending on thickness. Spread with sambal, thickly. Grill till fully cooked and sambal is sizzling and slightly charred, 5 minutes or so.

  7. Slide foil, leaf and fish onto serving plate. Pull foil from underneath banana leaf and discard.

  8. Garnish and serve immediately.