Updated: Mar 30, 2022
Sambal Away - Jump straight to Sambal Recipe
Sambal Tumis or Fried Chilli Paste lights up the fire in your belly!
Mention Sambal Tumis or Fried Chilli Paste and inevitably the heart starts pounding and the mouth starts to water. It's a fiery dance of spices.
Malaysian chilli paste (commonly known as Sambal Tumis), is one of many, much loved sauces by all Malaysians and beyond. You'll find at least one bottle, if not several, of this wickedly delicious chilli paste in any Malaysian household. The distinct smell of this paste cooking will draw you in like the Pied Piper's music, and if you're lucky, the friendly grandmother who is cooking this may just invite you to have a taste of it. Refusal is not an option.
Sambal Tumis is used for cooking spicy dishes such as sambal udang (prawns), sambal telur (egg) and sambal petai (stinky beans). It is also typical to add a dollop or two (sambal lovers need a lot of self-control not to add a third spoonful) on traditional dishes such as Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng or even as a spread on your bread as a sandwich. It gives a beautiful kick to dishes and literally spices things up.
To understand how deep our love goes for the humble sambal, we can have our sambal with almost everything. Whether it is roti canai, fried rice, noodles, kangkong (water spinach) or hokkien mee, we add our sambal to give it that extra oomph. If someone were to invent sambal ice-cream, we may well give it a go too!
The wonderful thing about this humble little paste is it goes beyond being just an accompaniment. It is not a side dip that is optional. It actually has the power to satiate hunger pangs - when you are feeling desperate and have run out of meat and vegetables but need a quick fix for that growling stomach, all you need is steamed rice and sambal. Believe it or not, that dish in itself is fit for a king.
Sambal is like a dollop of happiness in a little dish.
The traditional way to make sambal is to grind chillies and other ingredients with a mortar and pestle. Maybe it's just nostalgia, but the organic earthiness of the mortar and pestle seems to be the perfect cradle for this beautiful paste to be created. It is said that the process of pounding the ingredients with mortar and pestle helps release intense heat and bold flavours into the paste.
In our modern times where speed is of essence, you can also use a food processor and even a Thermomix to make the paste as well. This is convenient if you are making a huge batch.
If all that is too much work, then we have good news for you. Imagine having an All Natural, No MSG, No Preservatives and No Artificial colours version of the paste. My Blue Tea is delighted to share our Sambal Tumis Powder!
Fun Facts about Sambal
Did you know there are more than 300 varieties of sambal, each serving its own purpose? Some are used as a dip, as a marinade, a soup base or a condiment. Whatever version sambal appears as, it is hard not to fall in love with this little paste.
For those who are not familiar with the smell of this paste, you may have heard anecdotes about the distinct pungent smell of the paste. What Malaysians affectionately know as the smell of "Eau de Sambal" is enough to trigger cravings as it wafts through the neighbourhood.
Here's a funny article where the French police thought "There was A Dead Body When a Malaysian was cooking Belacan in Paris". A Malaysian was thrilled when she received some belachan and little did she know that frying this heavenly paste would alarm the neighbours and bring the police!
Sambal tumis (slow-stirring) is a versatile stir-fried chilli paste used in dishes like mee goreng (fried noodles), sambal udang (shrimp), sambal telur (eggs) and nasi goreng (fried rice). You can store freshly made sambal tumis in the refrigerator for up to one week and in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you prefer a milder sambal, decrease the Sambal Tumis Powder or for a spicier version, increase the Sambal Tumis Powder or add @my.blue.tea Native Bird’s Eye Chilli / Cili Padi.
* 50 grams Sambal Tumis
* 300 ml water
* 70 ml cooking oil
* 100 gram onion (chopped)
* 100 gram onion (sliced)
* 1kg squid/prawns OR
* 1 cup stinky beans/petai (optional) + 1 cup dried anchovies
(1) Dilute Sambal Tumis in water.
(2) Heat wok/pot with oil and add diluted sambal tumis.
(3) Cook on medium-high heat until fragrant and oil rises.
(4) Add in seafood or anchovies combo and cook for further 10 mins.
(5) Ready to serve with @my.blue.tea Pandan Nasi Lemak Premix fragrant rice.
Fold through some deep-fried ikan bilis and it becomes a fitting accompaniment for nasi lemak. Hard boil some eggs, deep-fry them then roll them in the sambal. Our favourite way to eat sambal tumis is undoubtedly with seafood.
Chef Jo Inspirations
Malaysia's Master Chef Judge, Chef Jo is our source of inspiration and walking dictionary for Malaysian cuisines. He is the Master! So of course we had to ask him to share his love for sambal with us! Chef Jo sent us some mouth-watering photos of his beautiful creations e.g. Sambal Mussels (extreme left photo). Otherwise known as 'Sambal Tumis Kupang', this is a dish of black mussels in slow cooking chilli paste #sambaltumiskupang . This 'sambal' uses 'belacan' (sometimes spelled “belachan” or “blachen”), a pungent, hardened block of shrimp paste that adds body to the sambal. (You can leave it out if you prefer, or if you can't find it).
The photo on the extreme right is 'Sambal Tumis Ikan Bilis Petai' (Sambal Anchovies with Stinky Beans). It is another simple yet delicious dish that no one will turn down. Anchovies cooked in chilli paste/sambal with 'petai' beans Parkia speciosa the bitter beans, twisted cluster beans, or stinky beans (a plant of the genus Parkia in the family Fabaceae). Stinky beans are long, flat edible beans with bright green seeds the size and shape of plump almonds which have a rather peculiar smell similar to, but stronger than that of the shiitake mushroom due to sulfur-containing compounds found in shiitake, truffles and cabbage. #sambaltumispetai
If you are enticed by the look and sound of these photos, you can add that to your list of Must Try foods the next time you visit Malaysia.
Follow ChefJo on Instagram on "@iamchefjo" - https://www.instagram.com/iamchefjo/
Malaysians are obssesed with sambal. You've probably figured this out by now. It is one of their national dishes and if you can´t eat it, you can always wear it! There are Nasi Lemak burgers and also Nasi Lemak condoms! In fact, Miss Universe Malaysia, Ms Samantha Jones made a bold statement at the 2017 Miss Universe beauty pageant in Las Vegas with a nasi lemak-inspired dress with Sambal, of course!
Here´s a little bonus recipe Nasi Lemak Cupcakes by Chef Sabrina because we can´t get enough of sambal!
Sambal has got quite a fiery character, so remember to cool down and quench your thirst with our signature Blue Tea, Soda and lemon.
Or simply brew a cup for that alkaline you need in your body to balance the acidic food.
And perhaps a healthy Bamboo Tea for flawless skin?
Stay tuned for future recipes in the pipeline using our Sambal Tumis Powder + various Superfood Powders + Spice Pantry Powders to give you these gorgeous dishes:
· Laksa Johor
· Curry Laksa
· Ayam Masak Merah
· Sambal Egg
So, what are you waiting for? If you haven´t got any sambal in the kitchen, maybe it's time to put on some music and sambal!!