Monday, February 1, 2010

Sambal Bajak

Sambal bajak--pirate sambal--is a great sambal to serve with grilled or fried chicken or fish. It's a robust sambal that should have a nice balance of shallots and chilies. There are probably nearly as many variations as there are said to be islands in Indonesia (over 16,000), and each surely has its supporters. I prefer a sambal that is straightforward in its heat and spice, but this one I'm posting is mellowed somewhat by the inclusion of coconut milk. This is something more akin to sambal bajak Caribbean, a rather tame sambal you might find at Disney World. If I could find hotter peppers, it would be better, but now is not the time of year to find the best peppers. Still, it is a pleasant accompaniment to grilled chicken and actually tastes good as a dip for crudites.

Sambal Bajak (from Sri Owen's Indonesian Food and Cookery)

10 Red chillies
1 slice terasi
10 shallots
5 cloves garlic
3 kemiri (candlenuts)
3 TBS vegetable oil
salt, to taste
1 tsp gula jawa or brown sugar
1 cup thick santen (coconut milk)

Take the first five ingredients and process them into a fine paste. In Indonesia this would traditionally be done with a mortar and pestle, but a food processor is quicker and does an adequate job. Saute the spice paste in the vegetable oil for a few minutes, then add the salt, sugar and santen. Simmer on low for 20 minutes and finish by cooking on a high flame, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

The sambal can be served hot or cold. Let is cool before storing it.

If you used your food processor to make it, make sure you wash the bowl and chopping blade thoroughly before using them for anything else, or you may get an unexpected kick from the chillies in the sambal.

I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks to celebrate the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient. The host this month is Wandering Chopsticks. If you would like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check who's hosting next month.


  1. Just reading the ingredients in this recipe makes my mouth waters, my air liuh meleleh.

  2. I was just asking my friend for an otak otak recipe so I can try my hand at making it. I bet this sambal would be so good paired with it. Maybe I'll add some peanuts since she likes to eat it with a peanut sauce.

    Thanks for submitting to Weekend Wokking!

  3. Looks wonderful! Disneyland sambal is about my speed. I'm looking forward to making it.

  4. Hungryc,
    Trims. Kalau kamu tinggal di KL, pasti boleh dapat sambal2 yang enak.

    I think this would pair nicely with otak-otak. Thanks for hosting (and starting) Weekend Wokking!

    This sambal definitely isn't fiery hot! For those looking for a mellow heat, it's worth trying.

  5. Javaholic,
    You may add the frozen red Thai Bird Chilies in the sambal bajak. Guaranteed sweat and tears (and perhaps runny nose too). Just be sure to protect your hands while chopping.


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