Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Sambal Oelek – Huy Fong™ Brand

Huy Fong Sambal Oelek 1

Hardcore fans of Asian food will likely recognize this brand and product, but if you haven’t come across it yet it really (really) bears trying. I have made, and regularly make my own Sambal Oelek, but this beats mine hands down and I can unstintingly recommend it as the best, and most versatile, commercial chili paste on the market… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Sambal Oelek – Huy Fong™ Brand”

Posted in Spicery

Spice Blend: Homemade Sambal Oelek (Simple Chili Paste)

Sambal Oelek 1

Chili pastes of one stripe or another are common in many cuisines. Some are fairly straightforward, containing little more than chili peppers, while others are considerably more complex and include a variety of other ingredients, such as garlic, ginger, or other spices. Not that many years ago, the Indonesian variety of simple chili paste known as Sambal Oelek (or Sambal Ulek) was relatively unknown in the west but this has changed in the last decade or so and one brand or another can be found in most supermarkets nowadays, with the Cock Brand, by Huy Fong Foods (makers of the popular Sriracha Sauce), being one of the most common.

Sambal Oelek is a very versatile paste that keeps well and is very easy to make. Strictly speaking, the basic version is nothing more than ground fresh chilies, but salt is also generally added, [particularly if the resultant paste is not to be used immediately). If you scan for recipes on the Internet, you will find many that include other ingredients as well but, since there are a myriad of Indonesian Sambals, all with different names, those that contain additional spices are not, in my opinion, true Sambal Oeleks. Vinegar (or even lime juice) is often included, particularly in commercial preparations, but, while this does enhance the shelf life somewhat, it also changes the finished product considerably. It also, to my mind, detracts from and diminishes the fresh chili taste, which, with just a little salt to act as a preservative, keeps surprisingly well in the fridge. For the version I will be sharing with you here, we will be using nothing more than fresh red chilies, salt, a little sugar to round out the tastes as the  pastes ages, and some oil for grinding and preservation… Continue reading “Spice Blend: Homemade Sambal Oelek (Simple Chili Paste)”

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Prawn Sambal

Sambal Prawn 1

In previous posts, I have dealt with sambals in their primary sense, which is as a spicy, chili-based condiment, especially popular in Indonesia and Malaya. With the addition of other ingredients, however, the term can also refer to a variety of side-dishes that would typically be served, in fairly small amounts, to add a more substantial accompaniment to rice based meals.

My wife was making her celebrated dal once again, and she suggested that I put together something to go along with it. I first thought of a coconut milk based prawn curry but, as her dal is of the fairly soupy variety, I figured that another ‘wet’ dish would be too much. A dry prawn curry seemed like a good idea but then I decided to depart from the purely Indian and do a sambal type preparation using Yeo Brand Minced Prawns with Spices as a flavor base. Since this condiment, as I mentioned in an earlier post, often seems to lose something when eaten hot, I settled on making a side dish that could be served at room temperature along with my wife’s dal, some Indian flatbread, and some sort of pickle or raita. Here’s what I came up with… Continue reading “Prawn Sambal”

Posted in Spicery

Spice Blend: Sambal Belacan

In a previous post featuring an Indonesian spice blend called Sambal Terasi I noted that one of the ingredients, a dried shrimp paste called Terasi, is also known on Malaysia as ‘Belacan’. Not unnaturally,  Malaysia has a preparation similar to Sambal Terasi called Sambal Belacan, and, as with the Indonesian variety, there is a great deal of diversity in the constituent ingredients and the methods of preparation.

My Sambal Terasi interpretation was a simple, raw (and fiery) preparation that cleaved to the basics, but today, I want to try something a little more complex. Last year, my wife brought home from Singapore a jar of a commercial paste called ‘Sambal Belecan’ and I enjoyed it so immensely that it was used up in no time at all. I am hoping, with this experiment, to try and reproduce the taste… Continue reading “Spice Blend: Sambal Belacan”