Oven Baked Sambal Stingray in Banana Leaf
Updated: Apr 12
In most cultures, stingrays are a delicacy but this fish is commonly cooked in most parts of Asia - either in curries, stews or barbecued. It's flesh is soft (especially in smaller rays), it produces a velvety gelatinous juice and melts off the bones when cooked. What's more, the bones are completely edible, and are almost cartilage-like and crunchy to the bite.
The 'sambal', or chili paste in this recipe can be used in just about any seafood you choose to barbecue - and is mix of my mom's and my mom-in-law's recipe (which means this is as legit as legit gets!) I've used this on whole fishes, prawns and sliced squids - all of which wrapped in a fragrant banana leaf and left in the oven or on the barbecue to cook.
Recipe makes 1-2 portions. 5 minutes prep time, total cook time 16-20 minutes depending on the size of the ray.
For the fish:
1 whole skinless skate wing ray or 2 medium fillets of ray
Lime, halved, for serving
For the sambal:
10 medium red chili
2 chili padi
2 pieces of 3-inch lemongrass, white end only
1 red onion
1 tablespoon belachan
2 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon cooking oil
Sugar & salt to taste
1. In a blender, combine 10 red chilis, 2 chili padi, chopped lemongrass, 1 red onion, 1 tablespoon belachan and 2 tablespoon fish sauce. Add a tiny bit of water to get it going and blend until finely chopped but not completely smooth. Add 1 tablespoon oil, salt and sugar and stir until completely combined.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the sambal. Stir often, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time to prevent the sambal from burning.
3. Continue stirring over medium heat until the sambal is dark red, thick and moist, and all of the oil has separated from the paste - about 5 minutes.
4. Cut the banana leaf into square pieces, enough to wrap the fish pieces. Heat up over medium heat to soften the leaves so it is easy to fold. This step also releases the fragrant flavor of the leaves.
5. Spread both sides of the fish with a generous serving of the sambal, and completely wrap with the banana leaf and an outer layer of aluminium foil.
6. Place the wrapped fish in oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees or barbecue grill and cook each side for 8-10 minutes covered.
ALY'S COOKING TIPS
1. While not everyone will have access to a barbecue, you can also use an oven to cook the fish.
2. The sambal can also be used on prawns, whole or fish fillets and sliced squids. Simply follow the steps and wrap the seafood in the banana leaf as directed. I like to add an extra layer of foil for prawns and squids so that it's natural juices retains and develops a more saucy sambal consistency.
3. If you can't find banana leaves, you can also wrap the fish in a baking sheet and then foil - I'd highly recommend using a banana leaf though as the fragrant flavor of the leaf adds a special burst of flavors to the end product.
4. Skate wing ray is preferred for this recipe as it is has the most tender and sweet meat. I've used a regular ray fillet for this recipe instead, as wing ray was not available at the time.