with a touch of sambal!
As the first flowers bravely push through into the sunshine....
It's a perfect time to eat well & feel good!
We are living through 'chilly' wintery nights still, but lengthening days and change is in the air. I like this time of the year when dusk falls between 5 pm and 6 pm. It reminds me of life at my home in the tropics. I also view the lengthening daylight hours as a positive indication, that life will improve for everyone in the world as we emerge from lockdown in springtime in the next few months.
Thank goodness for the distraction of food. One great way to lift your spirits on a grey day in early spring is to try adding a little spiciness with sambal.
Sambal is one of the most important elements of Indonesian food both as a condiment and an ingredient in itself. Every sambal features chili peppers which ironically are the one spice not indigenous to the original Spice Islands. Spanish traders in search of Indonesia’s nutmeg and cloves helped introduce chilies and the rest is history!
Above: Smoked salmon salad using Sambal Matah as a salad dressing.
Sambal Matah is mix of raw chillies shallots and lemon grass giving a spicy tangy fragrance to your food. The Balinese also add fresh kecombrang (ginger flowers) for even more depth of flavour
Above: Make tempeh (fermented soya) a healthy addition to your selection of crudites served with a spicy peanut dip using sambal kacang.
Sambal Kacang combines raw peanut (you can substitute cashews) roasted (not fried as tradition dictates) with birds eye chilies, garlic and coconut sugar.
Sambal for every occasion & taste
12 different sambals to try
1. Sambal Kentang - Potato sambal
2. Sambal Roa - dried fish, garlic and shallots
3. Sambal Dabi Dabu - spicy tomato base
4. Sambal Matah - chili and lemongrass
5. Tempeh Sambal - fermented soy bean plus chili, garlic and shallots
6. Soya Sambal - simple soy sauce and chili combination
7. Sambal Rebus - a chili version boiled.
8. Sambal Terasi - shrimp paste and tomato base
9. Sambal Nanas - pineapple base
10. Sambal Ijo - green chillies and lime juice
11. Sambal Teri - dried anchovies
12. Sambal Bajak - perfect for pasta, fish or chicken
The video clip features Sambal Terasi - a combination of salty, tangy shrimp paste with sauted chili, garlic and shallots. You can add cooked tomato also. Anchovies are an alternative for shrimp paste.
Above: fresh chillies are required for every sambal. The type of chili determines the texture, appearance and spice level each time. Large chilies tend to have less heat, curly chilies are medium spicy and birds eye chilies deliver the most fiery taste. Many sambal recipes use a blend of different types of chili, alongside the many other choices of ingredient, several of which are shown here including garlic, shallots, lemon grass, lemons and limes, plus different tropical fruits, salted fish and soya (including sweet soya).
Is sambal the same as paste?
According to the 'old school' view, sambal is different to the traditional paste known as 'bumbu'. In my modern approach to Indonesian cuisine sometimes I use my spicy turmeric blend paste as sambal (it includes chili) to create a delicious base for a dish. You can try my spicy turmeric paste (below) from and see for yourself.
Sambal can be divided into two categories – raw or cooked. The simplest is ‘sambal garam’ literally 'salt sambal.' Just grind as little as one or two fresh birds eye chilies (shown above), season generously with salt which helps the grinding process. You can enjoy sambal garam with fresh sliced tropical fruit such as pineapple or, when available, papaya and mango. It also goes really well with cucumber. A practical, quick way to wake up your tastebuds!
Above: Avocado toast with spicy turmeric dressing. You can add Rasaku turmeric blend paste to make this all day meal: a slice of prosciutto, mashed avocado, a soft boiled egg and sourdough toast.
It can give you a lively tasting break in a busy day - quick enough to make before your next Zoom meeting.