Sotong Kerabu (North Malaysian Squid Salad – EXTRA HOT)

Created by: Me

I first had a Kerabu in Langkawi. We just got off the boat from Penang and found this outdoor restaurant. I saw green mango kerabu on the menu. I had never had this salad from North Malaysia. This thing blew my head off! There was so much cili padi in the dish. I was sweating enough from the heat and humidity, then i seemed to lose the hearing in my right ear. It was sensational. I now make kerabu for that feeling. This salad is spicy, sour, sweet, citrusy, crunchy and smelly (belacan of course). YOU MUST TRY!

Let me know what you think, add a comment at the bottom!

Cuisine: North Malaysian


Crunchy Topping
Handful of dried shrimp

Handful of dried anchovy

1 nice big tbsp of the king of stench, belacan

A nice cup of peanuts (the ones with the skin on still)


Half cup of fresh lime juice

2 tbsp of palm sugar (gula Melaka)

1 tbsp or so of fish sauce


2 cups carrots julienned (I used purple, yellow and orange carrots)

2 red capsicum sliced fine

1 large turnip julienned

Half red onion sliced very fine

15 bird eye chillies (cili padi)

1 cup fresh mint leaves (can also add some Vietnamese mint)

Sotong (Squid)

500g fresh squid tubes

1 tbsp sambal belacan (Amount will depend on how hot sambal belacan is. Mine is home made and is a cracker 😛 )


Fry off the belacan, dried shrimp, dried anchovies and peanuts till warm and coated with the oil, not too long. Set aside.

Add the fish sauce and lime juice to the palm sugar and melt in the pan (or microwave). Let cool. You can put it in the fridge or freezer if you need it to cook quickly. You can add some sesame oil to this, though I didn’t tonight. Set aside.

Julienne carrots, turnip and capsicum. Add to a dish and mix with the chopped birds eye chillies. These chillies can be VERY VERY HOT. This salad was so hot that our hearing was affected… I seriously don’t know why people do drugs when you can simply take chilli. It’s a spectacular experience! Add half of the mint leaves. Set aside onion.

Slice the squid at the crease on both sides and slice into 2 inch length slices. Fry in the pan in some sambal belacan for a few minutes til nice and tender. DO NOT OVERCOOK SQUID. It is horrible, rubbery and you might as well leave it out.

Layer the salad on a plate with layers of the squid. I didn’t mix the squid in the bowl because it was still too hot.  Dress with the crunchy topping, more mint and red onion. Make sure you have a fresh lime on hand. Its beautiful to squeeze the fresh lime on top when you are about to eat it.

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4 Responses to Sotong Kerabu (North Malaysian Squid Salad – EXTRA HOT)

  1. Tammy McLeod says:

    Ok, what’s to resist? You used two of my favorite words in the title: squid and HOT. Sounds delicious. I’m not familiar with belacon? Can I find it in an Asian grocery? I definitely will try this.

    • Hi Tammy,

      I assure you, you will love this one! Its a funny one though, its so crunchy and chewy because of all of the vegies that you end up with jaw cramps! But its worth it. Malaysians and Singaporeans use belacan. See the photo of the yellow packet. That is a hard belacan. You should be able to get it at Asian grocery. Its a dried shrimp paste. The Indonesians call it trasi. The Thai’s also use their own shrimp paste. You can use any of them really, though i like the flavour of this one. Warning: When you buy it, make sure you put it in a sealed bag in your firdge. It STINKS! The first time you cook with it, you might wonder if a rat crawled in the packet and died 😛 After a while you get used to the smell, and given you know what is to come, you learn to LOVE IT! I can speak on behalf of almost all South East Asians in saying that this is the honest truth 🙂 We had so much salad leftover that on Monday night i added a chilli jam i made to it. It made the salad much sweeter and gave it a different texture. It was almost as nice 🙂

  2. Paulie C says:

    I can believe you like Belacan ??!!

    • When i first experienced the smell of belacan it was in the student housing at uni. I thought that some poor international student had died from starvation due to not having mummy or the maid around to cook for them… then i was introduced to the foul spelling, beautiful tasting offensive belacan. Perhaps i should put a blog post together… Ode to Belacan 😛

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