Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sambal Belacan - Spicy Malaysian Condiment/Sauce

A few days ago, I talked about "chimicurri," an Argentinian green sauce that is used to marinade meats and also as a delicious condiment to accompany many dishes. Well, sambal belacan is the Malaysian equivalent. It is ubiquitous throughout South-East Asia and is used mainly as a condiment to add an extra spicy kick to most dishes. For my version of sambal, I like to use cayenne pepper (serrano or fresno are also acceptable), garlic, belacan (fermented shrimp cake. Here's a good description on Wikipedia), lime juice and sugar. The belacan imparts a smoky and salty flavor that's typical of Malaysian sambal. Toasting the belacan before use raises the level of smokiness even further.

To make about 2 cups of sambal belacan, you'll need:

1/2 lb. fresh cayenne/serrano peppers (seeds and stems remove)
8-10 cloves fresh garlic
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon of belacan (toasted)

Start by simply putting everything in a food processor and blend until smooth. The addition of salt is not needed because the belacan already contains salt. Here is what you'll end up with:
When serving with any dishes, chop up some cilantro and add to the sambal belacan for extra flavor and visual presentation.

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