Sambal Ikan Bilis Bao Burger

Other than the famous Ramly Burger, Sambal Ikan Bilis Burger is also another famous burger in Malaysia. Disappointedly, I didn't have the chance to taste it. My tummy just couldn't take in anymore after all the other yummilicious food. You can check out my food tour here. Since I couldn't taste the burger, I decided to make it.

In case you didn't know, Sambal Ikan Bilis is a Malay term for stir fried dried anchovies with chili sauce. The Sambal Ikan Bilis Burger in Malaysia is a very simple burger consist of just Ikan Bilis and a few slices of cucumber. I decided to take that element and flip it upside down with my own elements. I had made a Sambal Ikan Bilis Pizza before, you can check it out here. Instead of following the exact same recipe, I decided to tweet it with a few extra "secret" touches. Hmmm... It isn't a secret as I am sharing it with you lovely people.

I am using a fold-over bao rather than the usual burger buns. The grill marks is inspired by FoodBusker; I saw one of his recent bao burger video and it really blows my mind. Please check out his YouTube channel. I am using a simple Greek style yogurt sauce to sorta cool down the spiciness. To cut thru' all that richness, I pickled some shredded carrots and red onion rings. So here it is, my take on the Sambal Ikan Bilis Burger. Hope you will enjoy making this burger as much as I do.


(Make 4 bao burgers)

  • Sambal Ikan Bilis:

  • Dried Chilies, 20g Adjust To Preference

  • Dried Shrimps, 15g

  • Dried Scallops, 15g

  • Garlic Crushed, 3 Cloves

  • Yellow Onion Coarsely Diced, 1

  • Shallots Coarsely Diced, 50g

  • Canola / Peanut / Vegetable Oil, 1/4 Cup

  • Ikan Bilis or Dried Anchovies, 50g

  • Belacan (Fermented Shrimp Paste), 1/2 TSP

  • Tamarind Paste, 10g Mix with 1/2 TBSP of Water

  • Palm Sugar, 35g Adjust To Preference

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • Yogurt Sauce:

  • Cucumber Peeled Shredded, 1/2

  • White Wine Vinegar, 2 TBSP

  • Greek Yogurt, 150g

  • Fresh Coriander Finely Chopped, A Handful

  • White Pepper. Pinch

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • Pickled Vegetables:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/4 Cup

  • Granulated Sugar, 1/8 Cup

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • Shredded Carrot, A Handful

  • Red Onion Thinly Sliced, 1/2

  • Bao Burger:

  • Homemade Turn Over Bao, 4


  • Cast Iron Skillet / Pan

  • Blender / Food Processor

  • Sauce Pot


  1. Please visit my “How To Make Mantou / Bao / Turnover Bao" page for turn over bao recipe.

  2. Prepare sambal ikan bilis.

  3. Soak dried chilies in a bowl of warm water for at least 30 mins or until the chilies are soft.

  4. Slice, discard the seeds and add into the blender.

  5. *If possible, wear a pair of gloves when deseeding as some dried chilies are really spicy.*

  6. Soak dried shrimps and scallops in a bowl of warm water as well.

  7. Add just enuff water to submerge them.

  8. Soak them for about 30 mins or until they are soft.

  9. Drain and transfer the water into the blender.

  10. Coarsely chop the shrimps and scallops and set aside.

  11. Add in garlic, onion and shallots into the blender.

  12. Blitz it up until smooth paste. Set aside.

  13. Wash dried anchovies thoroughly under running water, pat dry with kitchen paper and set aside.

  14. In a skillet, over medium heat, add oil.

  15. Once the oil is heated up, add in the ikan bilis, dried shrimps and scallops.

  16. Saute until golden brown and crispy.

  17. Remove from heat. Drain off excess oil on a plate lined with kitchen paper.

  18. Leave the oil in the skillet.

  19. Using the same skillet and oil, add in belacan.

  20. Break the belacan up into fine pieces with a spatula.

  21. Saute until aromatic.

  22. Add in the chili paste mixture.

  23. Stir to combine well.

  24. Add some water into the blender.

  25. Blitz until all the remaining nooks and crannies are incorporated into the water.

  26. Add the water mixture into the skillet.

  27. Stir to combine well.

  28. Saute until the oil start to separate from the mixture or the chili paste start to darken in color.

  29. Add in the tamarind juice. Stir to combine well.

  30. Add in the ikan bilis, dried shrimps, dried scallops and palm sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

  31. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more palm sugar and salt.

  32. Give it a final stir, remove from heat and set aside.

  33. *This can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.*

  34. Prepare the yogurt sauce.

  35. Transfer shredded cucumber in a bowl.

  36. Add in 1 TBSP of white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt.

  37. Stir to combine well.

  38. Set aside to marinade for 30 mins.

  39. Transfer the mixture onto a lint free kitchen towel.

  40. Squeeze out as much liquid from the cucumber as possible.

  41. Transfer the cucumber into a mixing bowl.

  42. Add in yogurt, remaining 1 TBSP of white wine vinegar, coriander, pepper and salt.

  43. Mix to combine well. Mix, mix, mix.

  44. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

  45. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

  46. Prepare pickled vegetables.

  47. In a sauce pot over medium-low heat, add vinegar, sugar and salt.

  48. Stir to combine well and until the sugar has dissolved.

  49. Remove from heat and set aside to cool down completely.

  50. Transfer into a bowl.

  51. Add in carrot and onion.

  52. Stir to combine well.

  53. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

  54. Assemble the burger.

  55. Grill the bao on a griddle until almost charred on both sides.

  56. Gently open the bao.

  57. Spread the yogurt sauce on the bao.

  58. Add in a generous amount of the sambal ikan bilis.

  59. Finally, add in the pickled carrots and onions.

  60. Repeat the process for the remaining burgers.

  61. Serve immediately.

#sambal #anchovies #burger #bao #anythinginbetween #ikanbilis

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