What is sambal, you may ask? For the unintiated, it is a hot sauce that straddles the consistency of paste and thick curry. It usually is spicy, but when you make it yourself, you can control the level of heat you want incorporated into a sambal. The sambal is an extremely versatile sauce to have in your fridge for those days when you run out of ideas for meals to prepare and you’re in the mood for something flavoursome that doesn’t require hours of preparation and doesn’t need a hundred ingredients.

Our own recipe after much trial and error (to suit our taste):

  • 1kg fresh red chili
  • 100g birds’ eye chili
  • 100g fresh green chili
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 6 huge red onions
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt

How to put them altogether?

  1. Blend all the chili, tomatoes and red onions. Make sure there are no large pieces (all should be nicely blended to a paste). Add oil instead of water to smoothen the process of blending (on its own it can be a little hard to blend).
  2. Heat up a large pan and add two tbsp of vegetable oil and 125g butter. Once the mixture froths, add in half the blended paste. (You can cook all at once in one pan if you have a big enough pan)
  3. Keep adding oil little by little until it “pecah minyak”. Be sure to continuously stir the mix or it might burn. That’s a term when the chili is actually cooked and the oil then seeps to the top instead of being absorbed by the paste. That’s when you know it is fully cooked.
  4. Once cooked, add salt (if you want it seasoned before freezing it) or you can leave it unsalted and only season it when you’re using it in the future. You can even use stock granules instead of salt to give it a richer taste.
  5. Leave to cool before portioning it to freeze.

*You can half or quarter the recipe but I somehow don’t get the same consistency as with this portion of recipe.

**The reason why I prepare so much is because it can take pretty long (up to an hour of continuous stirring for it to cook) to prepare the sambal and such a short time to gobble it all up. Hence, the huge portion of recipe to make in the beginning.

Prepared sambal

Once sambal is cooked, it looks like the above. Don’t worry if you have a thick layer of oil above your sambal once it settles and cook. You can remove most of it by pouring it away (perhaps keeping it to fry other things in it – because of the flavour the oil has already). Make sure you keep some oil for refrying.

Portioned sambal

I usually store sambal in smaller containers, portioned for one meal (two people) for easy use. Each large pan of sambal makes about 8 of these smaller portions. The best part about sambal is because it can be overpowering (depending on what you put in your sambal base), you don’t have to use the freshest seafood or meat. It can be used for smaller fishes, or fish pieces, or chopped up prawns or scallops, even minced meat.

The above are just examples of what you can make with sambal and the possibilities are endless, really. Just defrost a portion, throw it in a hot pan and put in what you want to eat; seafood, meat, vegetables, eggs – you’re the artist here!