What is sambal?
Sambal, the ubiquitous chili condiment found all across Asia, and in particular Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia is so addictive, you won’t be able to stop yourself from putting it on just about everything. This particular recipe is one that I created a few years ago because I was missing home quite a bit and after experimenting with different proportions I finally found the right balance of flavors for me.
Why is your sambal different from mine?
There is no one recipe for sambal as there are so many variations of this chili condiment, but the base components to sambal are primarily red chilies, shallots, ginger and garlic. From here, the possibilities are truly endless. Each region has its own variations and within that, family traditions which can vary from one household to the next.
How do I use sambal?
In Singapore practically every noodle or fried rice hawker will have a tub of sambal on the side which you can then add copious quantities of to your dish before finding a place to eat. Some sambals will contain belacan which is a fermented shrimp paste with a rather distinct odor. This version of sambal I tend to make at home more often is one without belacan as it’s more flexible and I can then use it on both asian and non asian dishes.
This recipe for sambal is one of my favorites, made with baby tomatoes and lemongrass. I started making this several years ago when I had a surplus of lemongrass on hand and ever since then, it’s been a standard addition to my sambals. The addition of a few tomatoes to this sambal is similar to the Indonesian Sambal Tomat, which gives it a bit of a tang and also cuts down on the sometimes intense heat level (it all depends on how hot your chilies are). Also, shallots are traditional but I don’t always have shallots at home, so red onion often makes the cut.
How long will sambal keep in the fridge?
Once you’ve made the sambal, allow it to come to room temperature. Then place the sambal in a clean glass jar. This will keep in the fridge for up to a month sometimes longer. But chances are you’ll love it so much that there won’t be any left after a week!
Check out the sambal video I posted on YouTube! I do hope you’ll give this a try!