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Sambal Ikan Bilis Bao Sandwich

Updated: May 3

This recipe is featured in my ECookbook:

For as long as I can remember, I made this recipe after my tiny food tour in Bukit Bintang before Covid19. Yes, BC! This recipe is kinda a throwback.

Other than the famous Ramly Burger, the Sambal Ikan Bilis sandwich is also another famous sandwich 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 sandwich in Malaysia is a very simple sandwich consist of just Ikan Bilis and a few slices of cucumber. I decided to tweet a few elements with some of my touches.

I am using a fold-over bao rather than the usual burger buns. Yes! I live for them grill marks. I am also using a simple Greek style yogurt sauce to sorta cool down the spiciness and to cut thru' all that seafoody spicy richness as well. And so here it is my take on the Sambal Ikan Bilis sandwich. Hope you will enjoy making this sandwich as much as I do.



(Make 4 bao sandwiches)

  • Sambal Ikan Bilis:

  • Dried Scallops, 1 TBSP

  • Dried Shrimps, 1 TBSP

  • Dried Anchovies aka Ikan Bilis, 2 TBSP

  • Shallots, 4

  • Garlic, 3 Cloves

  • Red Onion Coarsely Chopped, 1

  • Ginger, 1/2"

  • Galangal, 1/2"

  • Tomato Puree, 1 TBSP

  • Belachan / Fermented Shrimp Paste, 1 TBSP

  • Sambal Homemade, 3 TBSP

  • Grapeseed / Peanut / Sunflower / Canola Oil, For Frying

  • Gula Melaka, 2 TBSP Adjust To Preference

  • Dried Mushroom Powder, Pinch

  • Tamarind Juice, 1 TBSP

  • Peanut Butter Preferably Pic's, 1 TBSP

  • Yogurt Sauce:

  • Cucumber Peeled Shredded, 1/2

  • Coconut Vinegar / Apple Cider Vinegar, 2 TBSP

  • Greek Yogurt, 75g

  • Dried Coriander, Pinch

  • Black Pepper. Pinch

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • Bao Sandwich:

  • Homemade Turn Over Bao Homemade, 4



  • Cast Iron Skillet / Pan

  • Blender / Food Processor



  1. Please visit my "How To Make Bao / Turnover Bao / Mantou" page for the recipe.

  2. Please visit my "How To Make Sambal" page for the recipe.

  3. Prepare sambal ikan bilis.

  4. Soak dried scallops, shrimps and anchovies in a bowl of warm water for 30 mins.

  5. After 30 mins, drain and reserve the warm water.

  6. Add shallots, garlic, onion, ginger, galangal, tomato puree, belachan, sambal and 1/4 cup of that seafood water into a blender.

  7. Blitz until smooth. Set aside.

  8. In a skillet over medium heat, add about 1" of oil.

  9. Add in the dried seafood.

  10. *Careful as it will splatter.*

  11. Saute until the anchovies are crispy brown.

  12. Remove from heat and drain, leaving just enuff oil for sauteing, about 2 TBSP.

  13. Transfer the sambal blend into the same skillet.

  14. Add another 1/4 cup of that seafood water into the blender and blitz to "clean" up all the nooks and crannies.

  15. Add that mixture into the skillet as well.

  16. Turn the heat up to medium and add in gula melaka.

  17. Saute until the color has darkened.

  18. Add in mushroom powder and tamarind juice.

  19. Saute until well combined.

  20. Add in the fried dried seafood.

  21. Combine well.

  22. Lastly, add in peanut butter.

  23. Mix until fully incorporated.

  24. *I do not add any salt as the dried seafood is already salty enuff. You can season with salt to your preference.*

  25. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

  26. Prepare the yogurt sauce.

  27. Transfer shredded cucumber onto a sieve over a bowl.

  28. Add in 1 TBSP of coconut vinegar and a pinch of salt.

  29. Stir to combine well.

  30. Set aside to sit for 30 mins.

  31. You can see how much liquid was being released.

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

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

  34. Transfer the cucumber into a mixing bowl.

  35. Add in yogurt, remaining 1 TBSP of coconut vinegar, coriander, pepper and salt.

  36. Mix to combine well. Mix, mix, mix.

  37. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

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

  39. Assemble the sandwiches.

  40. Grill the turnover bao on a griddle for some grill marks.

  41. Gently open the bao.

  42. Spread the yogurt sauce on the bao.

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

  44. Repeat the process for the remaining bao sandwiches.

  45. Serve immediately.

Don't ya just wanna take a bite?


Recipe Video:

Sambal Ikan Bilis

Sambal Ikan Bilis Bao Sandwich


This recipe is featured in my ECookbook:

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