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Sambal Tumis (Fried Chilli Paste)

Sambal Tumis Recipe

Sambal Tumis Recipe (Fried Sambal)

The quantities stated in the recipe are for using sambal tumis as a base sauce for cooking. If you are using the fried sambal as a condiment, do season to taste according to your preference. For me, that will a bit more salt or home-made ikan bilis powder, and double the amount of assam pulp.

Serves: 600 grams sambal tumis

Prep Time: 1 hr

Cook Time: 45 mins


  • 1/4 cup or a small appropriate amount of olive or vegetable oil for binding (A) to a smooth paste during processing or pounding
  • 3/4 cup olive or vegetable oil for frying the sambal paste
  • "assam" (tamarind) solution dissolve 25 grams assam pulp in 1/2 cup water; liquid strained
  • 1 tsp salt to taste
  • 50 grams gula melaka (palm sugar; may use brown sugar) to taste

(A) Sambal Paste

  • 75 g dried red chilli cut to smaller sections, deseeded (to taste) and soaked in bowl of hot water for 20 minutes to soften; drained
  • 75 g or four finger-length red chilli deseeded
  • 250 grams peeled shallots
  • 1 red onion peeled
  • 8 cloves garlic peeled
  • 20g belacan (shrimp paste) toasted in dry pan or toaster oven until crumbly and powdery


  1. Process or pound (A) until it becomes a smooth paste, adding some oil along the way to bind the ingredients together.
  2. Heat oil and add sambal paste into wok. Stir fry until the sambal starts to turn a deeper red, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add tamarind juice, salt and gula melaka. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring constantly. By this time, the oil should be separated from the chilli.
  4. Store in air-tight containers in the fridge for about 2 weeks, or in the freezer for 3 months.

Leave a Comment

23 Responses to “Sambal Tumis (Fried Chilli Paste)”

  1. Shariffa — March 3, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

    Looks delish esp when the hot sambal is placed on a banana leaf like that. Enhaces the taste and fragrance. Not sure if you’re aware of this, some shops at pasar sells belacan that are already toasted. Saves the house from the smell. :)


    • wiffy replied: — March 4th, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

      Hi Shariffa, I’m reminded that I have yet to try your mee soto recipe. I’m craving for it. Need to find a wet market which sells the rempah soup and also toasted belacan. Maybe I have to go Malay village one of these days. The market in my area don’t have the stall. You are right, the belacan toasting smell is so awful, I was about to buy a toaster oven just for toasting the belacan. Thanks for your tip :)


      • Shariffa replied: — March 4th, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

        Hi Wiffy! Maybe you can try Geylang market to get the supplies? Weekend’s crazy though. I used to purchase my toasted belacan there. Lucky me, I don’t have to go too far after I moved, coz they have it here at the wet market near my place (Punggol). Let’s see if I can send you a picture of the belacan. :)

  2. tigerfish — March 4, 2014 @ 2:45 am

    This sambal tumis is just good for anything, isnt’ it?


  3. Doreen — March 4, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

    When you double the assam pulp, do you also double the water?


    • wiffy replied: — March 4th, 2014 @ 5:23 pm

      only double the pulp, water same


  4. TasteHongKong — March 4, 2014 @ 11:14 pm

    So much hearty tips here, I wish I had accessed to such a good reference when I first tried to make this.


  5. Ching — March 5, 2014 @ 1:42 am

    Love sambal tumis, I love how you added the banana leave before storing your sambal tumis for extra fragrant.


  6. Jane — March 6, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

    Hi, at step 3, after the oil separate, what should I do? Skim it off or just scoop everything into a container?

    Thanks in advance as I am really very interested to make the sambal.



    • wiffy replied: — March 7th, 2014 @ 11:20 am

      Don’t discard the oil. Just scoop everything to store in the container for use.


      • Jane replied: — March 7th, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

        Thank you for the reply. May I know what is the difference between this and the sambal belacan? Is it in terms of the usage? If I want to make sambal kang kong, should I be using this or the sambal belacan recipe?

        I love sambal kang kong and I also love the chiili for nasi lemak (which look like this recipe).

        Sorry to be so long winded.


    • wiffy replied: — March 7th, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

      for sambal kang kong, I have an old recipe at

      sambal tumis takes longer to prepare and can be used for variety of purposes (condiment and stir-frying). It can be used to cook kang kong as well, I will personally add some dried shrimps during stir frying.


      • Jane replied: — March 21st, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

        Hi, I have made this and all my colleagues love it!!! But I added a lot more sugar and tamarind as it was too spicy for me. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

  7. Christina Tan — March 8, 2014 @ 12:01 am

    Hi Wiffy, I would like to get hold of the palm sugar. Can you tell me where about I can get it?
    Many thanks.


    • wiffy replied: — April 1st, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

      Hi Christina, I got it from NTUC (dried goods section).


  8. Felicia Ng — March 28, 2014 @ 11:10 am

    Hi Wiffy
    One innocent question: When you said “75g dried red chilli” and “75g red chilli”, do I weigh both chilli with seeds or without seeds?

    What I did last Sat was: I weighed both chilli WITHOUT SEED, so you can imagine the large amount of Sambal Chilli I had! I distributed to my neighbours and they commented it was really good but not sweet enough.

    So, I presume we should weigh the chilli with the seeds on them? ;o).



    • wiffy replied: — April 1st, 2014 @ 2:21 pm

      oh my, Yes you should weigh the chilli in its raw form, i.e. with seeds-on (the instruction in italics in the recipe format is what you do with the raw ingredient after that). De-seeding is also optional and depending on how hot you would like the sambal to be. It won’t be easy to weigh them after de-seeding as it is usually a mess. For the sweetness, adjust and season to taste accordingly :)


  9. Felicia Ng — June 25, 2014 @ 2:23 pm

    Hi Wiffy

    I am going to cook this Sambal Tumis again ;o). May I know if I could use this sambal to make your Hae Bee Hiam (Spicy Dried Shrimps Sambal) instead of using your previous Sambal Belachan? Please advise, thanks!



    • wiffy replied: — June 26th, 2014 @ 10:33 am

      Yes, you can. It will be the wetter but I think very flavourful and great for stir-fries. Let me know how it goes :)


  10. Darren — November 22, 2014 @ 11:00 pm

    Hi Wiffy,
    I try with 75 g dry and 75g fresh chili (both without seed), 250g shallots and 250g garlic.
    I feel that it is a bit bitter.
    do you have any idea what might have cause it?


    • wiffy replied: — November 24th, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

      possible reasons:
      – remove any shoots in each garlic clove, if any
      – make sure you stir the chilli regularly so that the bottom of the wok is not burnt
      – do not over toast the belacan

      The weight for the fresh and dried chillis are before de-seeding btw (much easier to weigh and prep the chilli)

      I used 8 cloves garlic for this recipe (not sure what that translate to in grams)


      • Darren replied: — December 5th, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

        Hi Wiffy, thanks for the information.
        After some trial and error, I realise that my portion of chili is too much compare to the portion of shallots.
        Shallots could bring the bitterness of the chili down by a lot.
        thanks alot :)


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