The Only Sambal Guide You’ll Need
Fact: Indonesians like it hot – when it comes to food, that is. No matter how delicious something is; it’s incomplete if it doesn’t burn your tongue. And forget about things you know (like Tabasco and Sriracha), it’s time to talk about sambal – we’re sure you’ll have a personal favourite (like a local) by the end of this guide.
The most common chilli paste is the Sambal Terasi, which originates from West Java. A favorite among locals, this one has an irresistible, spicy shrimp flavour that will leave you gulping down glasses of water if you’re new to it. Plus point? It goes with practically anything Indonesian.
Sambal Lada Mudo
This one’s no ordinary hot sauce. Made mainly from unripe green tomatoes and green chilies, this West Sumatran sambal is best ingested with barbequed chicken. Yum!
A sambal from Central Java, Sambal Pencit has only two ingredients: freshly ground bird’s eye chili and shredded young mango. The tangy taste goes exceedingly well with seafood, so keep it handy if you’re a fan of seafood.
Sambal Tomat, the most basic on this list, is made by grinding deep-fried garlic, shallots, tomatoes, and chillies. As greasy as it sounds, it’s an excellent accompaniment to Indonesian cuisine.
Hailing from Bali, Sambal Matah is a raw spicy lemongrass and shallot relish served alongside almost every dish on the island paradise. The hint of citrus mingled with shrimp paste and the spiciness of the chili is an example of the amazing layer of flavors Indonesia is known for.
The Dutch and Indonesians love Sambal Badjak (pronounced: bud-jak), the slightly sweeter option of amongst all sambals. The sweetness comes from the combination of soya sauce, coconut sugar, and cherry tomatoes. But don’t be fooled, 10 big chilies are still required to make this one!
A star in classic Indonesian food, Sambal Kacang accompanies dishes like satay, nasi uduk, and gado-gado (Indonesian salad). The blend of sweet soya sauce, chilli, and roasted ground peanuts is what makes this one the most popular sambal. This is also probably the best one to start your tongue with, if you’re keen on trying them all.
Top image: Sambal Terasi
Images from Flickr