Chilli Paste (Sambal) for Noodles
Chilli Paste Sambal is such a versatile accompaniment and a popular condiment in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. Sambal can be a thickish paste made from a mix of chilli peppers along with dried shrimp and dried fish, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, palm sugar, lime juice, and rice vinegar or other vinegars. It can also be a runny sauce made from a variety of hot chilli peppers, fish sauce, store bought shrimp paste, spices, herbs and various aromatics.
Sambal will have a complex and pungent flavour that is all at once earthy, spicy and hot. The traditional way to make a sambal is to grind the ingredients in a stone mortar and pestle. Place the ingredients in the mortar then grind them to a paste by moving the pestle in a circular motion. Although labour intensive, it is widely accepted that the traditional method releases the essential oils of the spices much better. The modern and easier way to make sambal uses a blender or a food processor, as we do below.
- 1 cup oil for frying
- 30 g dried ikan bilis (anchovies), pre-soaked then drained well
- 15 g dried prawns, pre-soaked then drained
- 110 g chopped onions
- 40 g dried chillies, softened
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp shrimp paste
- 1 tbsp raw sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Heat oil in a pan.
- Fry anchovies and dried prawns from A over a moderate heat until crisp, being careful not to burn. Drain and pound/grind coarsely. Keep aside.
- Meanwhile grind the ingredients listed in B until fine.
- In the same pan, and adding more oil if required, stir in the ground onion mixture from Step 3 and fry until fragrant and oil comes through, at least 15-20 minutes.
- Mix in some sugar and salt.
- Lower the heat, then add the mixture from Step 2. Cook for 2-3 minutes, remove to a bowl. Use as required. Store the remainder in the freezer.