Sambal Ikan Bilis with Belimbing Buluh

written by Sarah Michael Griffin November 17, 2017

Belimbing Buluh

Belimbing buluh, or else known in English by its scientific name ‘Averrhoa Bilimbi’  commonly found growing in Malaysia and Indonesia. Directly translating it from Malay to English would mean ‘ Bamboo Starfruit’, but unlike our normal starfruit which is sweet, these tiny tots are basically sour bombs. It is commonly used to make ‘halwa belimbing’, ‘sambal hitam- black sambal’, or added into any seafood curries to cut off any fishy smell. It’s juice is good for tenderising meats, and also it is proven to reduce bacterial growth on meat when marinated with its juice.


I was lucky to obtain a bagful of  these Goodies from Kak Nurul-my go to person for herbal plants, as she so happened to have them when I queried where to buy ‘belimbing buluh’ in my area. Almost an inch long, this fruit contains high amount of vitamin C, which makes it an ideal facial treatment. Aids in hypertension, and flu.


For this recipe I have first and foremost, remove the dried stems. Wash them thoroughly over running water and then drain and pat dry them. Next, to form into the ever famous black paste that widely used in Pahang’s “sambal hitam” , I put all the 640 grams of the fruit into the pan with almost a handful of salt and 2 cups of water and set them to boil. In the original version they would never use water, but keeps stirring the fruit till it turn black, for hours long. Which in my case, I do not have that much time in my hand, hence resorted in cooking it for 2 hours. Always use an unwanted pot or wok as the juice of the ‘belimbing buluh’ can corrode the surface of the pot or wok. You can always prepare this days ahead and refrigerate it to use it the next day. Usually it takes about 4 hours to cook this, plus with extra tender loving care since it can easily get burned.

The aftermath: Just make sure to boil it in an unwanted or old pot or wok.

How To Make Sambal Ikan Bilis with Belimbing Buluh

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Serves: 6 -8 Prep Time: Cooking Time:


  • 120 grams - 150grams of cleaned Ikan Bilis (Dried Anchovies),
  • 6 Shallots, peeled
  • 5 cloves of Garlic, peeled
  • 40 grams of Thai Chili, stemed
  • 6 tbsp of cooked Belimbing Buluh, (check the above section on how to)
  • 2 tbsp Sweet Soy Sauce ( Kicap Manis)
  • 1/4 cup of Oil


Clockwise from top: Thai chilies, dried anchovies, belimbing buluh, shallots, and garlic

  1. Pound ( with a mortar and pestle) or blend (blender-with some water) the shallots, garlic and Thai chili together till it forms into a paste.
  2. Heat up the oil in a wok or pan, then add the pounded paste and fry till fragrant.
  3. Add in the Ikan Bilis and fry till it turns crispy. ( Add more oil if needed, but not too much)
  4. Next, add in the cooked belimbing buluh and mix well.
  5. Pour in the sweet soy sauce and stir till its evenly spread.
  6. Stir-fry for another minute.
  7. Ready to be served hot.

    Our ikan bilis sambal garnished with some ‘terung pipit’


Remember guys to Cook, Snap the picture of the finished product of the recipe that you tried from us, and post it in Instagram with the hashtag #noshandgrub. We will Re-Post it and give you a shout out!

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