Sambal Goreng Terasi: Indonesian Sambal Belacan Recipe

Sambal Goreng Terasi

Sambal Terasi literally means chilli sauce with dried-shrimp paste. And Sambal Goreng Terasi is the cooked/ fried version of that chilli sauce. 

This famous Indonesian chilli sauce is deliciously hot with a slightly-fishy aroma thanks to the dried-shrimp paste.

jars of chilli sambal

Sambal, which you can translate as chilli sauce, is one popular condiment in Indonesian cuisine. And if you go to Indonesia, there are numerous versions of Sambal across the country. Each region has its own traditional recipe. Sambal Lampung, Sambal Medan, Sambal Tomat, Sambal Ijo, and Sambal Dabu Dabu are only a few examples of the varieties. 

Here, I’m sharing the Sambal Goreng Terasi recipe that roots in the Sundanese (West Java) version of Sambal. 

In West Java, this hot spicy condiment is a must-have item in the menu. So if you go to many restaurants, cafes, or food stalls/ sellers in the region, you will almost always see sambal Terasi being served. 

Unlike the western style of chilli sauce or even the popular Thai sriracha sauce, Indonesian sambal has a thicker texture, uses more fragrant herbs and tastes more fiery kicks of the chillies.


sambal ingredients

You will need chillies, onions, garlic, tomatoes, Salam leaves, lemongrass, galangal, and Terasi/ Belacan.

The original recipe uses red shallots instead of onions. However, it’s not always easy for me to get those shallots. So I use red onions to substitute, and I find it works well. Sometimes I use yellow/ brown onions too without any difference in the taste.

As for the chillies, you can use fresh red chillies or dried red chillies. Both work fine. The only difference is that you have to soak dried-chillies in hot boiling water before cooking. So that the chillies will be softened. 

Using dried chillies is actually more budget-friendly because they are not as pricey as the fresh ones. Just bear mind that dried chillies tend to be hotter than the fresh red chillies.

In this recipe, I use a mix of both fresh and dried chillies. So that you will get the idea. But you are more than welcome to just use either fresh or dried ones only.

fresh red chillies
Fresh red chillies
dried red chillies
Dried-red chillies

When it comes to the dried shrimp paste, you can choose whichever you like. Here in the UK, the choices will be Indonesian Terasi, or Malaysian Belacan, or Thai Kapi that you can get from Asian shops in Chinatown. I have tried all of these dried shrimp paste, and for me, they all make tasty Sambal. If you can’t get it offline, you can buy online from Amazon here. 

But if you’re a type of person who can not tolerate this kind of pungent smell, you may have to skip the dried-shrimp paste and replace it with fish sauce that has a milder aroma. Or, you can skip altogether and just make your Sambal Goreng, fried-chilli sauce without Terasi. 

How to make Sambal Goreng Terasi

Traditionally, Indonesians use a pestle and mortar to pound the sambal ingredients. I remember I used to watch my moms and my cousins doing it when I was little and young. It seemed hard work to grind the chillies, and everything else until all became pounded and smooth. Especially when you have quite a bit of ingredient to ground.

Although you can always follow that traditional way of pounding the chillies with a pestle and mortar, I suggest using a blender to make it easy and quick

So first, you make the chilli mixture. Put the chillies, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and a cup of water in the blender then blitz it until all blended smoothly.

sambal ingredients in a blender
Blended chillies and spices

Then place the chilli mixture in a cooking pan together with the Salam leaves, galangal, lemongrass, Terasi/ Belacan, sugar and salt. Let it cook at moderate-high heat and keep mixing every now and then so that it won’t get burned at the bottom of the pan. 

blended chillies and herbs in a cooking pan
adding oil into blended chillies

Continue cooking until you get a nice thick Sambal with the oil separated from the edges.

cooking blended chillies in a pan
a bowl of ready cooked Indonesian chilli sauce with shrimp paste

It takes me about an hour to cook at moderate-low heat. 

Ways to enjoy Sambal

Sambal is pretty much a must-have item in the Indonesian cuisines. Every region in the country has its own version of sambal. And Indonesians enjoy it almost with every savoury food and meals

One of the most well-known ways to enjoy chilli condiment is having it as a dipping sauce for raw or blanched vegetables. And the Sundanese are very famous for their love of sambal with their fresh raw salad which is called Lalap / Lalapan

Lalapan – which you can translate as a salad – can be as simple as cucumber, carrots, chow chow and yardlong beans. 

Some main dishes that often paired with this condiment are Ayam Goreng Bumbu/ spicy fried chicken or Ayam Kecap/ sweet soy sauce chicken.

You can also use it as the sauce to make Ayam Penyet/ crushed chicken with chillies or Balado Teri

Another thing is, you can use this sambal as the base sauce to make Nasi Goreng Tuna/ Tuna fried rice.

So you have endless ways to enjoy this hot chilli sauce. And because the way it is cooked, this Sambal Goreng Terasi keeps well in a tight-lid jar and stores in a cool room temperature for about 3-4 weeks. Just make sure you always use a clean spoon to take the portion you need from the jar. Never use a used or dirty cutlery.

a bowl of Sambal Goreng Terasi - the Indonesian chilli sauce with dried shrimp paste

And if you need a unique idea for your next gift for your loved ones, you can make this chilli sauce and put in a nice jar and cover it with a ribbon. If your loved ones are chilli lovers, they will be thrilled to receive this unique and personalised gift :-).

Recipe for Sambal Goreng Terasi

Yield: 2 Jars

Sambal Goreng Terasi

Indonesian sambal goreng terasi - fried chilli sauce with dried-shrimp paste

Sambal Goreng Terasi is Indonesian fried-chilli sauce with dried-shrimp paste. It's hot but delicious. But it's only for chilli lovers who don't mind the pungent smell of the shrimp paste. Or, you can skip the paste altogether.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 50 gr/ 1.78 oz dried red chillies.
  • 50 gr/ 1.78 oz fresh red chillies.
  • 3 small sized/ 150 gr/ 5.29 oz red onions.
  • 5 cloves of garlic.
  • 3 medium sized/ 150 gr/ 5.29 oz tomatoes.
  • 1-inch galangal, peeled.
  • 2 lemongrass.
  • 2 salam leaves (see the note).
  • 1 ½ tsp salt (I use Himalayan salt).
  • 2 tsp Terasi/ Belacan/ dried shrimp paste.
  • 3 tsp sugar.
  • ¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 6.08 fl.oz cooking oil.


  1. Soak the dried red chillies in a cup of boiling hot water (from the kettle).
  2. Then cut the fresh red chillies in big slices, roughly chop the tomatoes. Peel and cut the onions in big chunks. And peel the garlic. 
  3. When the dried chillies are softened enough, and the water is cool enough to touch, cut the chillies in big chunks as well.
  4. Place all the chillies, the tomatoes, onions, garlic and the water from soaking the chillies in a blender or a food processor. Then blitz/ process the ingredients until you get a nice chilli smoothie :-).
  5. Put the blended chillies in a cooking pan. Then add the galangal, lemongrass, salam leaves, sugar, salt, Terasi/ Belacan and oil. 
  6. Cook the chilli mixture at moderate-low heat until you get a nice thick chilli sauce with oil separated from the edges. It takes me about an hour to get the consistency that I want. So, do take care by checking and stirring the sambal mixture every now and again. To prevent it from burning at the bottom of the pan.


  • Make sure to cook the chilli mixture until all the liquid from it evaporates, and the oil separates from the edges.
  • Some chillies can be hotter than others, so feel free to add or reduce the flavouring items such as sugar and salt. In the end, what you want is chilli sauce with Terasi flavour that tastes hot, salty, also has a little hint of sweetness

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 16Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 0mgSodium 51mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 0g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

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Thank you for reading the post. I hope you are now tempted to try making this hot but delicious Sambal Goreng Terasi. When you do, it will be great if you can share what you think about the recipe in the comments below (leave in a reply box).

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Thank you and all the best.


  1. Hi Devy. I definitely like the sound of this, but … I’ve never heard of or even seen salam leaves. Are they anything like lime leaves? Is there a substitute I could use?


    1. Hi Susan, Salam leaf is an Indonesian bay leaf that has a very unique aroma. If you can not obtain it, you can omit it altogether or swap it to one ordinary bay leaf and 2-3 curry leaves. Granted the aroma will be different to Salam leaf, but in my opinion, this combo is the closest substitute. Let me know how you get on and good luck.

      1. Thanks for that Devy! I’ve got 3 bags of fresh curry leaves in the freezer and have always got Bay leaves hanging around. Time to get cracking …

        1. You’re most welcome. All the best for trying. Hope you like it 🙂

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