Food unites Malaysians, and there’s one food in particular we can all agree on: sambal. The side dish steals the show, and all Malaysians know that a lip-smacking, flavourful sambal will have you craving for more of it, or as we say, “tambah lagi”. Here you’ll find the most delicious recipe for home-made sambal.
Guests at One&Only Desaru Coast love the resort’s signature sambal created by Executive Sous Chef Kelvin Lee. Passionate about sharing his knowledge of Malaysian food and ingredients, Chef Kelvin spotlights fresh food at the Desaru Coast resort’s farm-to-table Mediterranean restaurant Ambara, alongside teaching cooking classes for guests.
“I’ve worked all over the world and at many different kinds of establishments from casual restaurants to the highest echelons of fine-dining but found that no matter where you are in the world or how adventurous an eater you are, comfort food will never go out of style,” he shares.
“We will always return to what is familiar and that which reminds us of home; and as a Malaysian, nothing more so than sambal.”
Chef Kelvin admits that his low tolerance for spice is has dampened his ability to appreciate the complex and balanced flavours found in sambal, thus he set out to create a sambal paste that appeals to a broader audience. He shares with us his recipe for home-made sambal.
Chef Kelvin Lee’s signature sambal recipe:
- 200g chilli paste (deseeded)
- 500g shallots or red onions
- 250g garlic
- 50ml canola oil
- 200g tamarind juice
- 300g palm sugar
- 150g shrimp paste (belacan)
- 100ml water
- salt to taste
- Using a food processor blitz the onions, garlic and belacan until smooth. If you do not have a food processor or prefer a more textured sambal, use a mortar and pestle and pound away.
- Heat your saucepan over a medium heat and add canola oil to the hot pan. The surface of the oil should shimmer. If the oil begins to smoke, the pan is too hot. Add in the pureed ingredients and sauté for two and a half minutes or until the kitchen smells glorious.
- Add the chilli paste, tamarind juice, palm sugar and salt to the pan and stir till combined. Then add 100ml of water, bring it to a boil and reduce to a low flame. Cook until the sambal darkens and the oil separates.
- Once cooled, portion into sterilised jars. If you do not intend on using immediately, store in the freezer for up to a year.
For the chilli paste in this sambal recipe: Soak dried chillies (deseeded) in warm water for 15-20 minutes. Drain, leaving about a tablespoon of soaking liquid and then blitz it all in a food processor.)
(All images: One&Only Desaru Coast)