What Is Sambal?

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CAUTION this article is HOT!

What is Sambal and what is it used for? If you like spicy foods, you might want to check out Sambal! You can purchase it at your local grocery store, or it is really easy to make as well. It is a hot sauce that can do many things. Traditionally it is a chili paste used in cooking. Some recipes instruct you to cook it, to help break it down. However, the original sambal is simply ground paste using a mortar and pestle.

Sambal originated as a Southeast Asian condiment. There are many varieties of Sambal, but the most common type in the United States is Sambal Oelek.

The Main Ingredients of Sambal Are:

Chile Peppers
Salt
Vinegar

There are also variations of Sambal that may contain ingredients such as:

Lemongrass
Lime juice
Onion
Garlic
Sugar
Oil or Vinegar

Many varieties, but most common is Sambal Oelek in the US. There are also Sambal balacan which contains shrimp paste, sambal ikan bilis that contains dried anchovies and sambal kemiri which contains candlenuts. They are all made of the same base, but with a different flair to them.

A sambal is any sauce or paste that is made from various peppers. Sambal is an Indonesian word, referring to a condiment made with chili peppers. Essentially it is a raw ground up chili paste. Any chili sauce or paste would be called a sambal.

Flavor of Sambal

Sambal is HOT. It adds a spice to any dish or side. The main ingredient are peppers, which adds a bold fiery flavor to any dish.

Uses for Sambal

Sambal has many uses for adding a little spice to life. It is great for seasoning noodles or enhancing flavored sauces. Typically, the ingredients are placed into a food processor to turn them into a paste. They are then used as a springboard to enhance the flavor of other dishes.

Usually served with rice, noodles, soups, meat or anything else you want to add a little kick to!  

What Types of Peppers Can You Use?

You can use any kind of pepper, but typically the hotter the better. Thai peppers are the most sought after for sambal. You could also try red serrano’s, red jalapeno peppers, or cayenne peppers.

How to Make Sambal

It is very easy to make sambal. You add your peppers, salt and vinegar and any additional ingredients desired into your food processor and pulse until it becomes a course paste in texture. You can either add to your dish and serve or place in a jar in the fridge for later use.

There are many different ways to make sambal as well as many different uses for it. It is a simple paste to add a little heat to any dish you desire.

How do you make and use sambal?

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