Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sambal Belacan

Let's for a start talk about belacan before anything else. Even before I tell you about Sambal Belacan and how we can make Sambal Belacan. What is belacan? Wish I had a picture to attach, but nevermind. Words sometimes are more profound like belacan instead of picture speaking for itself. Belacan is shrimp fermented in salt over a period of time and prior to being dried in sun. The types of belacan we have in Malaysia. The dark brown in color pieces of belacan or these days, you can easily buy already roasted and powdered belacan, and the best belacan as far as I have tested tasted, is Malacca Belacan. Wonder what is the magic for Malacca Belacan, but it sure taste different and outstanding. The how to belacan? Unless we are referring to belacan powder, the start to belacan before you cook, obviously is roasting and a tiny bit goes a long way mind you. Remember, belacan is salty, so. Thereafter, belacan can be an ingredient for our Malaysian sambal dishes (Grilled Fish Stuffed With Sambal, Sambal Udang & Ikan Kembung Cabai Hijau) and mostly for seafood dishes as far as I know. Of course, we shouldn't discount belacan for vegetable stir fries (Kangkung Belacan) and by the way, have you tried Belacan Fried Rice?

Now, let's get down to our main agenda. Making Sambal Belacan. Obviously, made from Belacan? There are no hard and soft belacan rules and regularities. Open quantity to chillies, or birds eye chillies, and also belacan and lime on the whole. Whether you use limau nipis or limau kasturi. Limau nipis is the ordinary lime, whereas limau kasturi is calamansi lime. My take? I somehow prefer calamansi. Don't ask me why, why not, what and what not. Just my preference. Maybe due to different level and taste of sourness? Maybe. Sambal belacan can be made the traditional way or blended in food processor. Of course many will swear by pounding. Suit yourself. I actually have given up on pounding which has taken a toll on the strength of my arms and hands. 

Can you make Sambal Belacan and store in the fridge? Yes, you can. However, I think its better to freeze. Otherwise, I'm afraid Sambal Belacan will become rancid. What else should I say about Sambal Belacan? A condiment, accompaniment or dip. An ultimate Malaysian spicy dip and pairing for Sambal Belacan? Goodness, if not millions, as least hundreds of dishes. Noodles (Bee Hoon Soup & Hokkien Mee), soups (Chicken Wonton Soup & Chap Chai) and I am most probably the one of a kind Malayisan who even go to extent of joying into Sambal Belacan as a spicy sour pickle for Sodhi/Coconut Milk Kulambu and Indian soups (Rasam). Recipe for Sambal Belacan. Lemme repeat again in case you you couldn't catch it earlier.  

10 red chillies (with or without seeds) 
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. 


  1. I love sambal belacan or anything to do with belacan. Haha.. Yummays!

  2. Thank you for sharing the recipe! I must try it out sometime.

  3. I bet this will also be a good dipping sauce for fried or grilled fish and even meat! I can already imagine the taste, Nava!

  4. The sambal is always the best accompaniment to any dish that comes in handy when brought overseas, that is if allowed past customs.

  5. This sounds to spicy... Now I have to figure out what I can replace shrimps with to make it vegan and have it taste about the same... hmmm...


  6. sambal belacan is one of my fav side dish. the more spicy it is...the more delicous it will be...hehe

  7. thanks everyone for the mix comments, this is something we cannot leave without at home, everything will go with sambal belacan for us.

  8. Just by looking at the color... arrrggh my fav! But cannot eat too much. Pimples. LOL

  9. Che-Cheh - just a bit already killer.

  10. This for me is what defines Malaysian food, always ask for them in Mamaks before even with roti :)


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