Sardine Sambal

Transform a can of sardine/mackerel into a glorious sambal, enjoyed with steaming white rice and fried eggs. Comfort food at its best!

Somedays I crave the comfort food. The no frills. The plain and simple but still absolutely yummylicious. Enter this sardine sambal. Here I transform one tin of Ayam Brand canned Mackerel into a main dish.

Good to know: I use the Mackerel option and not the Sardin can. But for purposes of this post, I shall just refer to it as sardine. Of course feel free to use the Ayam Brand Ikan Sardin can instead of the Mackerel option.

Pix from Ayam Brand

There are MANY different variations of how to make sardine sambal. 

Sambal here refers to a thick gravy (usually spicy) which is a great accompaniment to rice or roti.

My version doesn’t have many ingredients, but to us it is still a hit. You can have this with any type of roti/chappati etc. or just rice. It also goes very well as a sandwich filling or filled into some puff pastry and baked into sardine puff.

Once I open the can of Mackerel, I start by draining and keeping the tomato based sauce aside. Then I remove the soft bones from the middle of the sardine pieces. I then slice the sardine into strips and keep aside.

In a saucepan, I heat some oil and fry a sliced onion until soft. I add in some curry leaves and dried chillies. Then I add in the sardine and leave them for a bit.

I like to ensure the sardine strips are fried well before proceeding to add in the sauce etc. I leave it in the hot pan for a bit to char off as seen in pic.Once I’m happy with how they are fried,  I then add in some chopped tomatoes and chilli powder and cook till tomatoes are softened.

 Add in the sauce from the can and some water. Toss GENTLY and combine. Some salt to season and a dash of lime juice at the end. Done.

We enjoy this with rice and some fried eggs. Truly delish. Add in some pre-fried / air fried cubed potato and it takes it to another level. I hope you enjoy this recipe and give it a try!

Did you try this recipe?

Please do let me know if you've tried it, by leaving a comment or tagging me on IG @thesuddencook.

Sardine Sambal

A simple humble dish that hits the spot. All you need is one tin of canned mackerel and a few other ingredients!
5 from 4 votes


  • 1 tin Ayam Brand Canned Mackerel 425g Drain the sauce and set aside. Remove mackerel from can and remove the soft bones in middle. Slice mackerel in strips.
  • 1 medium onion sliced thinly
  • 3 dried chillies cut in half (remove seeds if you want it less spicy)
  • 1 tomato cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Few sprigs curry leaves


  • In a saucepan, heat some oil and fry sliced onions for a few minutes until soft. Add in curry leaves and dried chillis. Fry for 1 minute.
  • Add in mackerel pieces. Leave them for a bit to fry off well and get a bit charred. Add a bit more oil to help the process. Once ready, add in tomatoes and chilli powder. Allow tomatoes to soften.
  • Add in sauce and some water (1/4 cup). Toss gently and season with salt. Optional: Add a dash of lime juice at the end. Done.


Top Tips:
  • I use the Ayam Brand Mackerel tin - you could also use the Ikan Sardin tin.
  • I like to cut them in strips so they fry off nicely.
  • I cube the tomatoes so they break down faster.
  • To make it less spicy for kids, remove the seeds of the dried chillies and lessen the chilli powder. 
Good luck!
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1 year ago

5 stars
This looks really delicious! Thanks for sharing.

1 year ago
Reply to  andrea janssen

Thank you Andrea!

5 stars
Easy to prepare.

1 year ago

Yes it is

1 year ago

5 stars
So hearty and flavorful!

2 months ago

5 stars
I’ve been looking for my type of simple cooking. This is it. Thank you.