Sambal Stingray (I)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

I love banana leaves. Rice and curry taste so much better when it's on a banana leaf.

Banana leaves are fun, and I feel good using something that's disposable yet traditional and natural.

Who says only modern people are lazy?

Whoever first thought of using banana leaves as plates must have hated washing up, just like me!

The banana leaf in sambal stingray is the unsung hero. The sambal takes all the glory but even a good one would be even better with the banana leaf's subtle smokiness. Isn't the nicely charred leaf a perfect frame for the gleaming, red sambal? Sambal stingray without banana leaf just wouldn't be the same (though it's still better than no sambal stingray at all).

17 September 2012 Update

Here's my video guide for making sambal stingray:

(Recipe for 3-4 persons)
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 and 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 and drain; cut a 2-3 slits in thicker end along the grain
1/3 tsp salt
1 piece frozen banana leaf
thaw and rinse; trim to fit baking tray
calamansi limes, halved
red onion, thinly sliced
tomato or pineapple wedges
cucumber slices

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.

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.

You should have about 1 cup. Use about 1/2 cup for 400-500 g stingray. Remaining 1/2 cup may be stored for a few weeks refrigerated.

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

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.

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.

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

Garnish and serve immediately.


Open Kitchen Concept said...

Now I feel like making sambal stingray tonight! :)

KT said...

Once you have the sambal made 'off-site', sambal stingray is a fumeless dish ideal for an open kitchen!

Genevieve Ngui said...

KT i did this for lunch today....forgive me i didnt use banana leaves,only foil....and i use a different fish...i have no idea what's its proper name but the locals call it ikan maid calls it ikan david because that's the only fish he likes:( but it's all in the it...almost too easy.and you can keep the sambal for future use too:)

Penelope Black said...

Hi KT, I made this for dinner tonight and boy was that an awesome recipe for sambal. Great thing about the sambal is that you don't have to be precise with the measurements. 

Will definitely use the sambal recipe for other bbq seafood dishes.

KT said...

Hello Penelope

Glad to hear that you liked the sambal stingray. If you can get good quality fresh prawns,  sambal prawnsis also very good.

Tricia said...

Hi KT, just a quick 'stupid' question, do you keep the skin on? Is it edible? I remember when my SIL used to cook it, it's always without skin. I remember she said the skin is rough & tough.

KT said...

Hi Tricia

The skin can be quite tough if the stingray is old. Whether you eat it or not is a personal choice. I do if it's soft, along with the bones.

taster said...

the video is great!!!!! keep it up! would have liked to see how you made the sauce more step by step

wanon said...

I'm a huge fan of this dish. thank you for sharing your recipe!!!
Just wondering though, have you, at all, modified the recipe since august?
I followed your recipe and made it once in august and it was really fantastic. Made it again tonight and somehow it's a little different...

wanon said...

Especially the grilling part.. I know it depends on the thickness of the stingray but I don't remember having it in and out that many times.. or am i just getting too old to remember anything, haha.. Just in case you did modify the recipe, can I have the original one? :) please?

wanon said...

Oh thank god I printed out the old version last time.

The biggest difference is probably the palm sugar. It was 30g last time and now 70..that's why it tasted so much sweeter this time. haha..and last time you oiled the banana leave and baked the fish right on it without having to oil the foil and slip the banana leave in half way, haha.. I WILL LAMINATE THE PREVIOUS VERSION, I FOUND IT I FOUND IT!! HAHA

happy new year KT :) I will make the stingray again very soon!

KT said...

Happy New Year to you too, wanon.

I think you're right; the new recipe is too sweet. I changed the brand of belachan I used, and the sambal tasted different. I thought it needed more sugar but, thinking about it now, the sambal lacked umaminess rather than sweetness from sugar.

I'll change the recipe back to the old one, and switch back to the previous brand of belachan.

wanon said...

wow.. change of belachan brand can make that much difference? i better, too, stick to the same brand. You know, I really wanna thank you again. I used to travel to singapore 2-3 times a year for sambal stingray and black pepper crab. Now with your recipe, I can enjoy this at home and amaze my friends and family. :) It's just difficult to find stingray, haha.. have you tried to use any other fish? THX.

Shannon said...

Is there any way I can switch the chilli to something else ? I want to cook for someone who cannot eat chilli.

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