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What is Sambal? Sambal originated from Indonesia and is a spicy, chili based sauce served as hot and spicy condiments for many dishes such as vegetable, fish, chicken and more. In addition to dishes, Sambal chili sauce can be added to soups, noodles, stews, rice, and even eggs. If you see the word “sambal” in the name of a dish, it is an indication that sambal was used as a main ingredient. The main ingredients are a mixture of various ground chili peppers with shrimp paste, shallot and garlic. This sauce can be raw or cooked.

Sambal chili sauce


There are about 300 different varieties of Indonesian Sambal with intensity ranging from mild to very hot. Here are some of the popular variations:
  • Sambal Terasi: It is similar to the Malaysian Belacan, however is stronger in flavor which is more tangy and fermented. It has red and green peppers, terasi, salt, sugar, and has either lime juice or the sambal fried with pounded tomatoes. There are two alternative spelling in the Netherlands: trassi or trassie
  • Sambal Bawang: This is one of the super hot sambal that is a specialty sambal from Surabaya who often called it Njaluk Sambal. It is made of fresh chilies, garlic, shallot, asam jawa (tamarind), and oil.
  • Sambal Kecap: It has a sweet and spicy taste and if often used for barbeque dishes, grilled dishes and lamb satay. It consists of Kecap Manis, tomato bits, shallot, lime, and red chilies.
  • Sambal Hijau: This is a green color sambal sauce that has its own distinctive aroma and flavor because it is made from green chilies. The green chilies, garlic and shallot are fried then added with salt and sugar.
  • Sambal Bajak: It is has a sweet and not too spicy taste which is recommended for anyone who has low tolerance for spicy food. It is made by frying chili with oil, tersai, garlic, candlenut, and other condiments. Sambal bajak is usually a dipping sauce for Indonesian fries or fried chicken.
  • Sambal Pencit or Mangga Muda: This is made with freshly ground Sambal terasi mixed with shredded young unripe mangos. It goes well with seafood, specifically grilled seafood.
  • Sambal Dabu Dabu: Similar to mexican salsa, sambal dabu dabu is a raw salsa. It is made from chopped tomatoes, chilies, shallot, basil, lime juice, salt, sugar, and poured with hot oil before serving.
  • Sambal Pecel: This has a sweet and savory flavor that is not too spicy and is typically consumed with boiled vegetables. It is made with shrimp paste, peanuts, chilies, kencur (galingale), garlic, tamarind extract, and palm sugar.

Dishes Used In

Sambal can be used in many soups such as soto to spice up the taste or mie ayam to add extra flavor.

It can also be used as a dipping sauce with fried food such as fried fish, fries, and fried chicken.

Read more Dishes Sambal is used in Here

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