Anchovy sambal or sambal ikan bilis with coconut cream

Anchovy Sambal or sambal ikan bilis with coconut cream

Anchovy sambal with quail eggs

Malaysia comprises three main races, Malay, Indian, Chinese, Eurasian and a mix of these. These races have influenced cuisine with some signature dishes that Malaysians of all races embrace as a must have dish on their home menu. One such dish is Anchovy Sambal. Sambal is a Southeast Asian ground or blended paste consisting mainly of red chillies. There are variations to sambal preparations such as the choice of adding vinegar or lemon grass or tamarind juice.

Quails' Eggs

Quail Eggs

My recipe gives the original recipe a unique tweak by adding coconut milk and quails’ eggs.

Anchovy Sambal has its roots in the Malay culture but is loved by all races. It was made famous by the local dish called Nasi Lemak (coconut milk rice) where the best Nasi Lemak is always determined by the best tasting Anchovy Sambal that goes with it.

In Australia, I can buy these anchovies from Asian grocery stores.

ikan bilis or anchovy

Ikan bilis or anchovy


300g anchovy, rinse in water and drain immediately

1 large red onion sliced either in rings or long and thin

3 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tsp shrimp paste

I cup coconut milk/cream (set aside 1/4 cup from here to soak tamarind)

quails’ eggs (optional)


1 tbsp sugar or 3 tbsp onion probiotic juice

two tablespoons olive oil

1 tbsp tamarind soaked in 1/4 cup coconut cream to extract the juice (traditionally tamarind is always used. But I sometimes use lemon grass instead of tamarind for a different flavour as the lemon grass goes very well with the coconut cream. If you want to follow the traditional version leave out the lemon grass and coconut cream. Use tamarind, soaking it in 1/2 cup water before using. When ready to use, discard the seeds and seed skins and extract only the juice diluted in the water. If you want to use lemon grass, leave out the tamarind.


1 large onion

three tablespoons chopped fresh lemon grass (use the stem and not the leaves)

1 inch ginger

7 dried red chillies (you can also use fresh chillies. Reduce if you want it only mildly hot)


  • Boil quails eggs in water for about 10 mins. Then leave to cool.
  • Deep fry the anchovies just short of being crispy. Leave aside on a paper towel to drain the oil.
  • Remove the shell from the cooled quails’ eggs and set aside
  • Blend all the ingredients for the sambal
  • In a separate pot/wok, add a little olive oil and start frying the chopped garlic, then add sambal blend and saute until you get the fragrance. Add shrimp paste. Saute for 30 seconds and then add sliced onions and saute until the onions are translucent.
  • Finally add the coconut milk and salt and sugar. If you are using onion probiotic juice instead of sugar, then don’t add the probiotic juice until you have turned off the stove as directed below.
  • Let it simmer for about 1 – 2 minutes, then turn off the stove and let cool and then pour three tablespoons of onion probiotic juice over it and mix well.




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