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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Continue cooking until you get a nice thick Sambal with the oil separated from the edges.
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.
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.
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
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).
Before you go, check out the following recipes that you may also like.
- Ikan Pesmol: Indonesian fish dish in yellow pickled spices.
- Ayam Suwir Bumbu Bali: Balinese spicy shredded chicken.
- Tongseng: braised lamb in spicy coconut milk with sweet soy sauce.
- Sate Ayam: Indonesian chicken satay recipe.
- The best Indonesian lamb satay that is easy to make.
Thank you and all the best.