Dried shrimp sambal or heé bee sambal in Hokkien is a spicy condiment that is loved by everyone (for those who know the existence of this dish. I can bet about that!). Grandma used to make dried shrimp sambal for us when we were young. But not anymore as cooking time is tedious and slow. An old lady cannot stand doing that. But when her granddaughter requested her to teach the recipe, she said YES! immediately. According to grandma it was her mom who taught her to make dried shrimp sambal. Awww I miss my great-grandma.
Together we make a good team; grandma and me. She ordering me around for the preparation and cooking and not forgetting the occasion huffs and puffs she gave out because yours truly was taking some time snapping pictures of the process. Hahaha
Before you proceed, I need to tell you something: You will need a lot of patience and time if you plan to make this. :P Patience because you need to stir-fry the ingredients almost non-stop. Time because you need about 1 hour of cooking time. Hehehe But worry not, once you’re done you will have a month supply of dried shrimp sambal!
First thing first,
You need to clean the dried shrimp.
One by one, remove the shell and dirt (if any).
Then soak in cold water. If you’re in a hurry you can soak dried shrimp in warm water so that it will soften faster. For us, we have ample time since we are going to prepare other ingredients.
Next is the dried chili.
Use a scissor and cut off the head.
Then cut along the body of the chili about 3/4 way.
Get the seeds out. You don’t have to be so thorough as rinsing later will remove the seed as well. Also you gotta leave some for some ‘kick’ right?
Simply rinse chili in running water.
Next, peel garlic and shallots. Rinse well too.
Rinse soften dried shrimp well just before going into blender. You have to blend it in 2 to 3 rounds to a coarse texture (since the quantity is a lot). Add some water before blending.
Blended dried shrimp. You can use a mortar and pestle to pound dried shrimp. But I’m lazy and it’s hard work.
Next blend dried chilies (with some water) and garlic & shallots.
Clockwise from top: Blended dried shrimp, garlic & shallots paste and chili paste.
In a heated wok, add enough oil to cover blended garlic and shallots paste.
Stir-fry garlic and shallots paste until fragrant. Took me about 14 minutes.
Next add chili paste.
Stir-fry for about 6 minutes.
Add blended dried shrimp. Combine all the ingredients well. You need to stir always so that it won’t stick to the wok.
Add sugar and tamarind peels 5 minutes later.
The black thingy is tamarind peel. Continue to stir-fry, always moving your wok turner. Along the way do add some oil if you feel it’s too dry.
Fry until it is very dry. Took about 36 minutes from adding blended dried shrimp to completion. Remove tamarind peel once you’re done.
Transfer dried shrimp sambal to a tray and leave to cool.
Store in a clean, dry and air-tight jar once cool. This is a 1L jar which fits just perfectly. If you’re not going to finish this jar by 2 weeks it’s best to keep in the fridge (if your place is warm) or you can return it to the wok and stir-fry it again to prevent molding.
Dried shrimp sambal is spicy and aromatic. The spiciness won’t kick in until you’ve munch a little bit of it. Best eaten with rice, mee huen kueh, pan mee, bread… what else?
If you’re not a spicy person, just lessen the dried chili quantity.
Grandma’s Dried Shrimp Sambal
280g dried shrimp, remove shell, soaked and rinsed
185g shallots, peeled
40g garlic, peeled
40g dried chili, remove seed and rinsed
1 1/2 tamarind peel
2 tablespoon sugar
oil (vegetable or palm)
1. Blend soften dried shrimp in 2 to 3 rounds (since the quantity is a lot) to a coarse texture. Add some water before blending. Set aside.
2. Blend dried chili to a paste. Add a little water so it can blend well. Put aside as well.
3. Blend garlic and shallots to a paste.
4. Heat wok and add oil (enough to cover blended garlic and shallots paste).
5. In medium heat, stir-fry garlic and shallots paste until fragrant. [For me it took about 14 minutes.]
6. Add chili paste and again stir-fry until aromatic. [For me it took about 6 minutes]
7. Finally add blended dried shrimp and stir-fry.
8. Add sugar and tamarind peels about 5 minutes later.
9. Add some oil if it’s too dry. Remember you need to continue working with the ingredients (stir-fry) so that it won’t stick to the wok. Fry until it is very dry. [For me it took about 36 minutes from adding blended dried shrimp to completion]
10. Remove tamarind peel once you’re done.
11. Transfer dried shrimp sambal to a tray and leave to cool.
12. Once cool, store in a clean, dry and air-tight jar.
Enjoy the sweat! :P