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Sambal Sotong

Sambal Sotong
Sambal Sotong (Squid), served atop warm fluffy rice … shiok!

A few years ago, my buddy Liv introduced me to this tasty dish at a local zi char store. This dish is not on their menu, but Liv’s friends had asked the owner to whip this up because apparently this one-dish meal version (served with rice) is available upon request at many zi char stores. I was sinced hooked. Very very hooked. For those of you who love it hot, I think you will love this dish as much as I do too! I tried to go back to the store a few times after that but it was always a pretty long wait. Foodie as I am, I am the more practical type so to wait excessively long for my food is not my cup of tea. So I decided to experiment in the kitchen using short cut means (bottled sambal pastes instead of grinding them from scratch) and after a while, I think I kind of got the taste … very happy with the results as well as the minimal effort needed!

Judging from the name of this dish, you can guess its Malaysian-Chinese and South East Asian origins because both ‘sambal‘ and ‘sotong’ are Malay words. Sambal is a Malay style chilli pounded with toasted shrimp paste (belacan) in a stone mortar. The word ‘sotong’ is the Malay for squid.

In our local slang, when you call someone a ‘blur sotong’, it means he or she is really ‘blur’ or muddle-headed. I must have eaten too much sotong because sotong me have forgotten to add the tomato at the end, as you can see in the photo hehe =P

(Serve 2-3)

– 1 squid (aka sotong), the white & purple type
– 3 stalks of spring onions, cut to 2-inch lengths
– 1 large red onion, cut to small wedges (or you can substitute with several shallot onions)
– tamarind paste made by dissolving 1 tsp of of assam or a small ball size of tamarind (assam) in 2-3 tbsp hot water
– 1 tsp dried basil (optional)
– 1 tomato, cut to small wedges
– 1 tbsp pre-made sambal blachan paste*
– 1 tsp pre-made blachan chilli paste*
– 1 tbsp chopped garlic
– 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

* I used Taho, a Singapore brand, and I am so addicted to their chilli. Good stuff!

1. Clean the squid by laying it flat on the chopping board and gently pulling out the head in one direction. Empty the cavity of the squid. Wash it clean. I discarded the head (up to you) except for a small portion of the tentacles. Slice the squid to thin rings.
2. In a heated wok, saute the garlic and basil till they are fragrant.
3. Add the thick spring onions stalks (white part) and onion and stir fry till the onions are starting to caramelize.
4. Add the sambal blachan and blachan chilli pastes and stir fry evenly.
5. Add the squid slices and stir fry for a minute. Thicken the sauce with the tamarind paste. Add the rest of the spring onions.
6. Stir fry for another 3 minutes or so, till all the squid are cooked. Do not overcook the squid as they will become chewy. Toss in the tomato wedges and mix in evenly. Serve with warm rice.

Sambal Sotong


If you like this recipe, you should also check out my other recipe for :

Stir-fried Lala Clams with Blachan Chilli (see photo below)

Leave a Comment

46 Responses to “Sambal Sotong”

  1. akanishi — March 7, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

    Hi may i know where did you buy tamarind paste from? i could not find it in NTUC.


    • wiffy replied: — March 7th, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

      I got from NTUC. If you can’t find the powder, can get tamarind as shown here: … just a small ball size (smaller than a ping pong ball) will do for this recipe. The remaining can use to cook assam dishes such as assam fish


      • akanishi replied: — March 8th, 2012 @ 12:00 am

        Thanks Wiffy, i search high and low for it but unable to find tamarind at NTUC.. maybe i will go search in those small minimart…the package look very familiar..

        • wiffy replied: — March 8th, 2012 @ 12:08 am

          I frequently see them at my neighbourhood provision shop located at the wet market. Good luck :)

  2. Michelle — September 27, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

    Hi, your dish is mouth watering and recipe is very easy to follow. Forgive me for my ignorance but could you explain the difference between sambal blachan paste and blachan chilli paste? Thanks


  3. Jenny — February 21, 2013 @ 9:53 am

    hi ,
    mind to share which ntuc outlet u get ur tamarind powder from and how the packaging looks like ?
    i searched high and low at 2 different ntuc outlets and the wet market near my place but found none .


    • wiffy replied: — February 21st, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

      Hi sorry to hear that. use this: (second photo). Dissolve 1 tsp of assam (tamarind) in 2-3 tbsp of water. Using a spoon, stir thoroughly until the assam is dissolved and the solution turns brown. Discard the seeds if any.


  4. Alice — May 1, 2013 @ 12:19 am

    What is the difference between sambal blachan paste and blachan chilli paste in the recipe?