Chef's Recipes

Grilled fish with sambal matah, watermelon and cucumber

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for grilled fish with sambal matah, watermelon and cucumber by Dan Hong.

By Dan Hong
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 8 mins cooking
  • Serves 4 - 6
  • Print
Grilled fish with sambal matah, watermelon and cucumber
"Bali has a special place in my heart because my wife is Indonesian and we were married in Bali," says Hong. "When we are there, we go to Jimbaran Bay. It's quite touristy, but we don't care because it doesn't get much better than eating freshly caught, grilled seafood on the beach with sand between your toes. Sambal matah is a traditional Balinese sambal that (unlike many other kinds of sambal) is uncooked. In that respect, it's much like a salsa, but a lot more intense. It is perfect with grilled fish or shellfish, such as lobster and prawns. The sambal is quite spicy, so the watermelon and cucumber salad adds cooling freshness. Good fish to use are baby snapper, flounder or baby barramundi. Ask your fishmonger to scale and gut it."


  • 1 whole fish (about 750gm; see above)
  • For brushing: vegetable oil
  • To serve: lime wedges
Sambal matah
  • 100 ml grapeseed oil
  • 10 red shallots, thinly sliced
  • 5 long red chillies, finely chopped
  • 5 birdseye chillies, thinly sliced
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced
  • 2 lemongrass stems (pale part only), very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 1½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
Watermelon salad


  • 1
    For the sambal matah, mix all the ingredients and 1 tsp fine salt together in a bowl until well combined. Set aside.
  • 2
    For watermelon salad, toss the watermelon, cucumber and herbs together in a bowl and dress with nuoc cham.
  • 3
    Season the fish with salt and brush it with vegetable oil. Heat a char-grill pan or barbecue to very hot, which will help prevent the skin from sticking. Put the fish on the grill and after about
    4 minutes carefully flip it with a large spatula. It should be nicely charred. Cook for another 4 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  • 4
    Transfer to a serving dish and spoon some sambal matah and the watermelon salad over the top. Serve with wedges of lime.


Note This recipe is from Mr Hong ($49.99, hbk), published by Murdoch Books and has been reproduced with GT style changes.
Drink Suggestion: A very fresh wine with a good mouthfeel – I’d go with an exciting new producer of Vouvray in the Loire Valley, Sébastien Brunet. Drink suggestion by Franck Moreau