Chinese, Condiment

Sambal Belacan

Ahhh sambal belacan. Just hearing the name will delight me. I’ve been a big fan of sambal belacan every since I learned to read. Used to eat lots of sambal belacan when I was young but I’ve toned it down a lot since I’m no longer a young kid. That’s because belacan or dried shrimp paste can be very ‘tok’ (Cantonese; can’t think of the word in English) and cause allergy if eaten a lot. This is according to my grandma and mom. Moderation is the key here. Sambal belacan is a must have condiment in Malaysia’s cuisine. As belacan itself is salty, this Nyonya recipe doesn’t require you to add salt but you can add sugar (optional) to give it a twist.

Sambal Belacan
Sambal belacan.

Let’s make sambal belacan!

Bought the belacan block from East & West Rendezvous Cafe when I visited Melaka couple of months back. Its color is unlike any belacan color you see in the shop which is usually dark brown in color. I’m guessing this belacan is the original color.

Toast Belacan
Toast the belacan until dry and aromatic. At this point your whole house will smell of belacan. Mmmm…

Slice the red chilies so it’s easier to pound. Also, I choose to remove the chili seeds because it can be difficult to pound. Besides that, the seed will make the sambal belacan more spicy.

Pound Chilies & Belacan
Pound the belacan and red chilies to the consistency you preferred.

Sambal Belacan
Squeeze some lime juice before serving. It’s delicious with omelette and fried fish.

Sambal Belacan
Adapted from Nyonya Flavours

8 red chilies, deseed (slice finely for easy pounding)
40g belacan, toasted
3 tablespoons calamansi lime (limau kasturi)
sugar to taste (optional)

1. Pound sliced red chilies and toasted belacan together to the consistency you preferred. Add sugar if using.

2. Add lime juice.

Note: Keep the leftovers in the fridge. It can be kept for few weeks if store properly in an air-tight clean container.


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  • Reply Dawn December 23, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    I had sambal belacans since I was very little too! Must be the nyonya in our families 🙂

    I fried belacan once since I came here and the last….the whole house even windows and doors opened, it stank so bad i could even smelled it outside the house!!! So now I buy ready made sambal belacan from made in Indonesia…not much kick but better than nothing 🙂

    • Reply Che-Cheh December 24, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Hi Dawn, Merry Christmas!
      Wah if me eh, I don’t care about the smell. Let it come! Let it come! Hahaha

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