Sambal belacan is the ever famous, ever popular and all-time favorite traditional spicy chilli dipping sauce/condiment. It’s eaten with rice or with raw salads, soups and noodles. In fact there’s countless ways of pairing or incorporating with other ingredients for spicy dishes. I have a friend who makes sandwiches – spread over toast and decked up with cucumber slices or salad leaves. Sounds tempting though I have never tried before.
If possible the sambal is a must for my every other meal - with rice and side dishes. I make quite a bit and to keep fresh, packed in tiny bottles or containers and kept frozen in the fridge. Yes please freeze. Otherwise it will start to rot and smell as a white moldy layer would have formed on top.
The most basic no frill sambal is made with either red or birds eye chillies or a combination of both, lime juice and salt. Of course as the name suggests, the utmost important is the belacan/ the belacan or shrimp paste itself. The best type is the block pieces, available almost anywhere and comes in different brands and sizes.
Traditionally sambal belacan in made by pounding in the mortar. However with food processors/blenders it’s easier and less stressful because you save your energy but rise up electric consumption. I rotate – sometimes pound and sometimes blend. Anyway, there’s no hard and soft rules. What’s important is balancing the flavors for a satisfying taste, so my recipe is just a rule of thumb.
10 red chillies (can remove the seeds or not)
2 to 3 birds eye chillies (chilli padi)
½ inch belacan - roasted
Calamansi/limau nipis juice – as needed
Salt for taste
Add chillies (both types) and belacan into a blender/food processor.
Blend to either a smooth or rough paste (whichever you prefer)
Mix with lime juice and salt.
Store in containers and freeze.
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