A must-have in every Asian kitchen - the ultimate Sambal Belacan! With this in your pantry, you can cook up a huge variety of fabulous and quick stirfry dishes such as Sambal Prawns, Sambal Eggplant, Sambal Tapioca Leaves, Sambal Squid, all of which will have you sweating at the dinner table but will leave you wanting to literally lick clean the platter these dishes were served on.
I always thought that Sambal Belacan was complicated to make with loads of different exotic-sounding ingredients and tons of steps involved, but after learning the recipe from my mother who learned it from my Peranakan grandmother, I was surprised because it is actually rather easy! Less than 8 ingredients needed and the steps involved are fairly straightforward. I am definitely going to make sure that my pantry is always stocked with Sambal Belacan from now on because I am a HUGE fan of it. I could eat it with my comfort food of choice (rice with fried egg, crispy garlic and kimchi featured as a What's on your Dinner Plate Today a couple of weeks back), stir-fry some squid with it, smear it on fried fish or even use it as a dip with some fish crackers.
So basically, Sambal is a paste made from a combination of fresh chillies and other ingredients that vary according to different recipes such as garlic, ginger, galangal, or spring onions just to name a few. Belacan is the Malay word for 'Shrimp Paste ', which is used all over Southeast Asia, you can read more about it here if you're interested to know more. Belacan has a very pungent smell that is rather off-putting in its uncooked form, but it adds a really unique flavour to many dishes and is a key ingredient in many cuisines. Because Belacan is salty and the tamarind water added into the Sambal paste while frying is sour, no additional salt is necessary in this recipe. Sugar, however, is imperative as it balances out not only the spiciness but also the saltiness of the final product. Store the Sambal Belacan in a glass bottle and keep it in the fridge, whenever you are in the mood for some hot stuff, spoon in a couple of tablespoons of into your simple stirfry and you're set! You will need~