Thursday, August 13, 2009

5 Minute Sambal

My first real introduction to Sambal was during a trip to Amsterdam. I had lunch at a little restaurant called Sampurna that serves traditional Indonesian Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel , a Dutch word that literally translates to "rice table", is an elaborate meal adapted by the Dutch from the Indonesian feast called nasi padang. It consists of many (forty is not an unusual number) side dishes served in small portions, accompanied by rice prepared in several different ways. Popular side dishes include egg rolls, sambals, satay, fish, fruit, vegetables, pickles, and nuts. It was the one and only time I have experienced Rijsttafel, but the wonderful variety of tastes, especially the various Sambals that were on the table, have led me to experiment with Indonesian style cooking and flavors.

I currently have several varieties of hot peppers growing in the garden that are perfect for making Sambals, my Thai Dragon and Tabasco peppers are going to be excellent choices, but they have not yet turned from green to red. I do however have plenty of Red Cherry Peppers. While I am not sure if these are a traditional pepper to use in a Sambal, I decided to give it a try. I adapted several different recipes for basic Sambal that I found in Asian cookbooks I own. Here is the ingredient list I ended up using...

4-5 Red Cherry Peppers
1 tsp chopped fresh Lemon Grass
6 leaves fresh Thai Basil
3 cloves fresh Garlic
1 tsp fresh minced Ginger
2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and grind into a fine paste...

Takes no more than 5 minutes to have a very spicy condiment that can be enjoyed on just about anything. Wonderful when added to a bowl of plain old rice! The flavor of the Ginger and Lemon Grass really come through and balance out the heat of the peppers. I recommend using it very sparingly at first if you are new to Sambals because the heat can get very intense depending on the type of peppers used.

Don't forget that there are hundreds of varieties of Sambal from many culinary regions of Asia. Experiment with other ingredients. If you prefer a milder version, just remove the seeds from the peppers before processing the Sambal.

Wikipedia has a great page with more about Sambal


saturday's child said...

Man! You've really gotta pair up with a food magazine or cookbook publisher or someone and share your talent for photographing REAL food. You do it better than anyone else I've seen from garden to plate, it all looks luscious.

Christopher Paquette said...

Thanks Sharon! You are too kind...

MitMoi said...

It's an amazing memory and taste, isn't it?

I was just thinking about how sambal and salsa are cousins.

Christopher Paquette said...

"Sambal & Salsa" good name for a food blog!

Stephanie said...

Nice try Christopher! We take a lot of sambal here :-) We add 'belacan' (shrimp paste in English) into it most of the time. We use sambal to stir fry vegetables like water spinach or just as dip with fresh vegetables like wing bean and cucumber.

Christopher Paquette said...

Thanks Stephanie! I want to try using Belacan in my next Sambal!