Ikan Cencaru Sumbat (Deep Fried Sambal Stuffed Torpedo Scad)

Yup! You learn new things every day, they said. Who would have thought Cencaru fish has such an interesting English name? Come to think of it, Torpedo Scad is a fitting name for ikan cencaru considering their hard skin (or scale) and their elongated body that reminds me of a torpedo missile bomb.

When it comes to ikan cencaru, the best way to prepare it is stuffed chili paste in it and deep-fried it. I think for years of living in Malaysia, aside from ikan cencaru sumbat (AKA deep-fried sambal stuffed torpedo scad), I have yet to encounter another method of preparing this fish.

My Ikan Cencaru’s Tale~

I first learned about this recipe from my mum. When I was young, my mum, who is a Nyonya that is great at cooking, would make ikan cencaru quite often because my dad loves it a lot. Torpedo scad fish is relatively cheap, so my dad would buy 4 fishes and each of us get to enjoy one whole fish to ourselves. 😊

Aside from my mum’s version, my dad does also have a favourite spot that he will often visit for ikan cencaru. It is a Chinese food stall that mainly sells claypot chicken rice, but they do make decent ikan cencaru as a side dish. Both are my dad’s favourite and it has turned into our staple food.

Making Ikan Cencaru at home

According to my mum’s recipe, ikan cencaru is often stuffed with raw chili paste (AKA sambal) and deep fried to perfection. Same as the food stall that my dad loves. It could be how we Malaysian Chinese make cencaru. My Malay friend once told me that most often cencaru is stuffed with cooked stir-fried sambal. Raw chili paste does occur but often means for grilling not common for deep-frying.

Both cooked and raw are fine. It all down to personal preference. For me, I will go for cooked sambal any day and the same applies to my wife. Raw chili paste tends to have some raw chili smell that we both do not fancy too much. We know some people do not mind and fancy it actually. That someone is my parents.

So, once you made your mind on your chili paste choice, the rest are just simple stuffing and deep frying.

Well, time to cook! Or eat…

Ikan Cencaru is one of our favourite Malaysian dishes. A well known and well loved dish among Malaysians. But a bit underappreciated. It is time to celebrate this simple and wonderful Malaysian dish~ Checkout our recipe below if you wish to learn.

Ikan Cencaru

deep fried sambal stuffed torpedo scad fish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Malaysian
Servings 2 persons


  • Wok or pan
  • Blender


  • 2 Ikan cencaru (torpedo scad fish)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder

Chili paste

  • 3 Chili
  • 5 Shallot
  • 2 clove Garlic
  • 1 inch Ginger
  • 1 stick Lemon grass
  • 1 lime
  • Salt and sugar (season to your liking)



  • Make sure you ask your fishmonger to remove the guts. Rinse the fish and slice open the fish on its spine starting from head to tail, to make a pocket to stuff the chili paste.
  • Make sure to do both sides on each fish.
  • Marinate the fish with salt and turmeric powder for about half an hour.

Making the chili paste

  • Now, we can use our marinate time to prepare the chili paste. Blend chili, garlic, shallot, ginger, and lemon grass in a food processor.
  • Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a pan, stir fry the blended chili paste until it is dry and fragrant (AKA pecah minyak).
  • Season it with lime juice, salt, and sugar. Mix it well and your chili paste is done.

Stuffing the fish

  • Before stuffing the fish, make sure to let the chili paste cool to room temperature.
  • Use a spoon, scoop a spoon of chili paste and push it into the pocket that we made on the fish. Stuff as much chili as you can in each pocket.

Deep frying the fish

  • Heat enough cooking oil in a wok on medium heat.
  • Check the temperature by dipping a wooden chopstick tip into the oil. If it bubbles, the oil is ready to fry. Fry one fish at a time on both sides until it is cooked and slightly golden brown. (make sure to scoop and dispose out the burned chili after each fry)
  • And your ikan cencaru is ready. Enjoy~
Keyword Deep Fried Sambal Stuffed Torpedo Scad, ikan cencaru, ikan cencaru sumbat, 拔皮魚, 辣椒拔皮魚

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