One of my favourite of the myriad of sambals is Sambal Belacan, one of the most prevalent across Malaysia. But although it may be commonplace, there is nothing ordinary about the flavours. This raw sambal is both fiery with chillies and pungent with shrimp paste (belacan) and lime juice. It will definitely give you and your food a bit of a fillip!
Belacan (or belachan) is the Malay name for dried shrimp paste. This is a dense mixture of salted prawns that have been fermented and then dried and pressed into blocks. It should be toasted before use —either wrapped in foil and dry-roasted or toasted over a gas flame on a spoon.
Skill level: Easy
5 red chillies, finely chopped
2cm piece of belacan (shrimp paste)
1 tsp kaffir lime powder
a half tsp palm or light brown sugar
salt, to taste (I used about a quarter tsp)
juice of 1 lime
- Heat a small frying pan. Wrap the belacan in kitchen foil and lightly dry fry until fragrant and crumbly.
- Tip all the ingredients into a food processor and blend. Most of the sambal should be smooth, but flecked with chilli seeds.
- Taste and add more sugar or salt to taste.
- This will last well in the fridge in a sealed container for about 1 week.
- Some of a chilli's heat is actually in the seeds. It is customary in this sambal to include the seeds. But if you're a wuss . . . sorry, I mean if you prefer a milder sambal, then remove the seeds before blending up the sambal.