I am a self confessed sambal belachan addict and very proud of it. Make me choose between a humble sambal dish such as sambal stingray, versus an expensive upmarket dish like smoked salmon salad with caviar, and I think you know what I’ll pick without a moment’s hesitation. And given my obsession with all things spicy and sambal, I wondered what took me so long before I started making my own sambal balachan. It’s better late than never I guess. Now that I started making my own sambal belachan chilli, there is no turning back for me. It is such a handy condiment to keep in the fridge – you can use this sambal paste for a quick and easy stir fry, you can add a little to any dish for some heat, and it’s a nice chilli condiment for almost any Asian dish such as fried bee hoon and fried rice.
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Making your sambal belachan is really easy since there’s no cooking involved (except the toasting belachan part), and once you made some, it stores in the fridge for slightly more than a week. Mine is the more Malay style (I think) where there’s no frying of the paste involved. But with this basic sambal paste, you can fry it with some dried shrimps, garlic and shallots for a more Chinese version of spicy dried shrimps, or more commonly known locally as hae bee hiam (upcoming recipe). A little warning though – your kitchen will smell kind of pungent when you make sambal or when you cook with sambal – but to me, a small price to pay for something so delicious.
- 5 finger length chilli, deseeded
- 3 chilli padi aka bird’s eye chilli (no need to deseed – for the heat; omit or adjust to your preference)
- 30g belachan, toasted in a dry pan
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3/4 tbsp lime juice from small limes (calamansi)
- 1/8 tsp salt
A mini blender/food processor OR mortar & pestle
1. In a blender, grind chillis and belachan. You can also pound the ingredients using a mortar & pestle.
2. Transfer blended paste to a small bowl. Add sugar, lime juice and salt to taste. Stir to mix well. You can store the chilli in refrigerator for one week or so. It can be used as a chilli condiment or in stir fries.
1. Wear disposable plastic gloves when de-seeding chilli to prevent chilli burn.
2. Belachan is pungent smelling. Open your windows while toasting belachan and remove all laundry (if you have them in the kitchen) before making the sambal. Air your kitchen after cooking.
3. If you do not have calamansi, you can substitute with larger lime or lemon (though I think calamansi gives it the best taste).
Stir-fries recipes using the sambal belachan paste
- Sambal Long Beans
- Sambal Fried Beancurd (Tau Kwa) with Sugar Snap Peas
Who’s also making it
- Rasa Malaysia
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