Monday, June 20, 2011

Simple Sambal, but It Will Burn Your Mouth

My love of spicy food can be dated back to when I was a 2-yr-old. I'm not talking about Sriracha-spicy. I'm talking about real, fiery, burn-your-mouth kind of spicy. My mom used to joke, it's because I'm a tiger, to maintain my fierceness, I have to consume copious amount of spicy chilies. She also said that is why I'm so impatient, bold, crude and barbaric yet ambitious. And she thinks all that qualities, if I polish myself quite nicely, it will actually help me to get further in life (yeah, hopefully..)

My son also loves spicy food. He can handle his chilies better than most adults I know. We make sambal once a month, and it'll last us exactly that long. While he likes sambal oelek, nothing compares to the homemade one. We can tinker with it, make it as spicy as we like. I don't know how he gets this way. All I remember was he wanted to try some sambal when he was 1.5 years old. Let him try a dab, since then, he's hooked. Of course I make sure to throw away the chili seeds. That's the culprit to the burning sensation in your mouth. After awhile, no-seeds sambal is too weak for him. So I leave just enough seeds in our sambal.

Sambal to us is like pesto to most people. You can slather it on any protein you have. Or slow cooked eggplants in it. We do lots of things with it. Very versatile. Sometimes I just want to bathe in it (uh, not a good idea, of course, it will sting you like no other!) The neat thing about homemade sambal is, you can control the heat.

It makes me miss home, where you can just fold your legs up, with a plate of hot steaming rice in front of you. At this point, who needs eating utensils? As barbaric as it sounds, it does taste better that way. You can feel each grain of rice between your fingertips. The burning sensation of the chili seeds against your skin. You're using all five senses to eat. Just don't rub your eyes.......

Super simple sambal (enough to cook 4 chicken thighs in, even a little bit more):

Using mortar and pestle (or a blender, magic bullet, food processor), ground 4 shallots, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 steamed tomatoes (diced) and 10 chilies (discard the seeds if you wish). Season with salt and pepper. Stir fry the grind mixture until it's cooked and fragrant. Add in a dash of brown sugar. Ready to be used for whatever you want.

Suggestion: cooked with previously fried chicken, eggplants, hard boiled eggs. Sometimes I use it to cook fried rice. Play with it. And tell me how you like it.


  1. real Indonesia can't live without sambal :D

  2. Love children who can take their spicy dish. I usually like my sambal to be really dark, with addition of kecap manis and palm sugar. Haha :) Yup, sambal is our pesto alright

  3. Niya: :D

    Jun: yep. I somehow prefer my sambal on the savory side, find it too sweet if I add palm sugar. Kecap manis is okay though, it has more depth.