Sambal Oelek

Here is a simple recipe that should keep your insatiable appetite for blog posts quelled until I can post something more substantial this weekend. Sambal oelek is a chili paste that can be used as a condiment or to add spice to any dish. The sambal I made was deadly hot and wasn’t a great condiment, but there is always one in my fridge to add to any dish for the heat that is almost always required. Sambal can be easily bought from most supermarkets, however I find them overly salty and not spicy enough. Give this a try if you have too many chilies floating around and they are going bad or you want to create your own chili paste and know exactly what’s going into it.

This recipe calls for about a pound of chilies, in this case I used green Birdseye chilies (note – sambal oelek is normally red, so if you’re a true traditionalist stick to red chilies), but any kind will do and will ultimately affect the heat in the sambal.  Six cloves of garlic, a large knob of ginger – about two tablespoons, two stalks of lemongrass, six fluid ounces of vinegar (I have no idea how much that is, but you want it to be the consistency of a thick paste, not a liquid), 3 tablespoons of sugar, the juice of half a lime and sugar to taste.  But remember these quantities do not need to be strictly adhered to, make it to your liking – more lime juice, more sugar, more garlic, it all works. All the ingredients except the vinegar, sugar, lime juice and salt are pulsed in a food processor.

As the ingredients blend together, slowly add in the vinegar until a paste is formed.  Pour the mixture into a saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for three minutes.  Add salt and sugar to taste (do taste it even if it will blow your head off), allow to cool, add the lime juice, mix and place in a clean/sterile jar and store in the fridge. The sambal will last for a few weeks if kept in the fridge in an air-tight jar or for as long as you want in the freezer.  If you plan on using it over a long period of time you can keep it in the freezer in ice trays for individual portions.  Add this delicious paste to any meal or dish for the extra kick we crave… if you dare.

-alex

Sambal Oelek