Nasi Lemak is a very popular dish in Malaysia, so much so that even most Malaysian airlines will serve it on their flights.

This dish is accompanied by hot and spicy “sambal” (hot sauce), which I will talk about a bit more later, and garnished with cucumber, hard boiled eggs, fried anchovies and toasted peanuts.

A good nasi lemak lies in the quality of the rice and the sambal. Sambal is a hot chilli paste made of the following ingredients: shrimp paste, garlic, onion, chillies, ginger, sugar and tamarind juice/vinegar. You blend all those ingredients and slowly fry over medium heat until the texture is dry-ish and fragrant.

For this blog post, I am going to share with you a simple way to make sambal ikan bilis, using ready made Little Nonya sambal sauce.

It is simple, quick and taste great!

The ingredients I used:


How to make tamarind juice?

Soak tamarind pulp in hot water and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Squeeze the juice from the pulp – and that is your tamarind juice.

How to fry anchovies

  • Wash the anchovies and pat dry with kitchen towel.
  • Heat up oil; once the oil is heated, lower the heat and fry them for about 10 minutes on medium heat.
  • Stir frequently to make sure the anchovies are cooked evenly until turning slightly brown in colour.
  • Once the anchovies is cooked, drain and set aside to cool.

Adding the sambal to the ikan bilis

You have a choice of making your own sambal from stratch with onion, garlic, chillies, belachan etc; however, with time constraints, I opt for readymade Little Nonya Sambal paste.

  • Remove the oil from the pan (after frying the ikan bilis) but leave about 2 Tbsp in the hot wok.
  • Heat the oil, add onion and stir fry onion for about 1-2 minutes on medium heat, until fragrant or until transparent.
  • Add Little Nonya Ikan Bilis Sambal; fry for 30 seconds on low – medium heat, and add occasional water if the paste is too dry.
  • Add the fried ikan bilis to the sambal; stir fry for 1 minute on low heat.
  • Add tamarind juice and bring to simmer. Lower the heat and cook until sambal thickens.

Cook’s note – how much liquid you want in your dish is entirely up to you. You can use up the leftover (frozen) or make up a new batch.

Serve with peanuts (beer nuts), chilled cucumber and hard-boiled eggs.

Number of people: 2 – 4
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Other recipes:

The Ikan Bilis Sambal Paste

Weight: 250g per pack

Ikan Bilis/Anchovies:

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