Indonesian Sambal Recipes to Spice You Up (Part 1: Sambal Terasi)

Chili pepper, this spicy ingredient contains a substance called capsaicin, which has been shown to help reduce appetite and increase fat burning. Researchers have found that the heat generated by peppers may actually help in the fight against obesity by stimulating energy-burning and turning white fat to brown fat. One study showed that eating 1 gram of red chili pepper reduced appetite and increased fat burning in people who didn’t regularly eat peppers.

Sambal, a hot sauce made from a mixture of variety of chili peppers, is extremely famous among Indonesian people. This hot sauce has abundant varieties, the intensity ranges from mild to very hot.  Sambal can be served raw or cooked.

Sambals are usually served as hot and spicy condiments for dishes such as lalab (raw vegetables), ikan bakar (grilled fish), ikan goreng (fried fish), ayam goreng (fried chicken), ayam penyet (smashed chicken), iga penyet (ribs) and various soto soup.

If you want to spice up your meals a little, we’ll give you three Indonesian sambal recipes, starting with sambal terasi -- Indonesian most favourite one.

Sambal Terasi (Shrimp Paste Chili Sauce)

A common Indonesian style of sambal. Similar to the Malaysian belacan, but with a stronger flavor, since terasi is more tangy and fermented.
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 8 red chili peppers (cabe merah keriting)
  • 5 Thai chilies (cabe rawit)
  • 1 tomato, quartered
  • 5 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon toasted shrimp paste (terasi)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons palm sugar

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan on high heat. Sauté chilies, tomato, shallots, and garlic about 5 minutes until fragrant and the chilies and tomato look wilted. Set aside.
  2. With the same pan, sauté shrimp paste about 30 seconds until fragrant (careful not to overcook it).
  3. Transfer the cooked ingredients into a food processor and grind into a paste.
  4. Season with salt and palm sugar, adjust the taste as needed.

Cooking Tips:
  1. If sambal is not to be consumed directly, transfer it to a jar and store in the fridge. Always return to room temperature prior consumption.
  2. You may remove the chili seeds to reduce the spiciness level. You are free to keep the seeds for a super spicy sambal.
  3. For better taste, instead of grinding the ingredients in a food processor, try to grind it in a stone pestle and mortar as most Indonesian do.


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