Sambal?  What’s all the fuss about?

Claimed by many to be the next sriracha, sambal is a word for a Southeast Asian chili pepper condiment. The word, and the original recipes, are from Indonesia.  But like all great  recipes, it made its way to other countries where each region put their own spin on it.

People making sambal penyet, one of the most popular sambal

The basic traditional sambal is a combo of chili peppers, garlic, lime juice, and salt, ground by hand – then, regional recipes throw in whatever else is on hand to make savory, sweet, and/or umami-rich mixtures.  There are as many sambal recipes in Indonesia as there are towns – and each grandma will have their own secrets. And the sambals of Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and Sri Lanka are all vastly different. Want to know more? Try the Wikipedia article on sambal and you’ll get a good start.

But one thing is constant – a dish of sambal is found along side almost every Indonesian meal.   To quote the famous Indonesian chef William Wongso, “Sambal is a state of mind (check out the full article in the May edition of Food&Wine).”

There are so many DIY recipes for sambal on line (check out chef Brian Moeljadi’s versions on First We Feast), and most versions will have at least one ingredient that you surely won’t have in your pantry.  Serious Foodie has created two versions.  Our Indonesian Sambal is a version of the Javanese Sambal Bajak – sweet, spicy, savory, salty.  Instead of the traditional terasi, we are using Southeast Asian fish sauce (an ingredient in SE Asian that is as common as soy sauce).

Click Now to See Our Indonesian Sambal

Chicken Satay with Sri Lanka Sambal

From the island country of Sri Lanka, their variation of sambal (also spelled “sambol”) includes lime juice and coconut.  This version was one of our all-time favorites – sweet/spicy/savory, we’ve used this sauce on everything from chicken satay to eggs to pizza (yes – we did a shrimp pizza with Sri Lanka hot sauce!)

Click Now to See Our Indonesian Sambal

Filipino Tacos with Indonesian Sambal Crema

Sambal can be used in a variety of ways, as a condiment to spicing up a rice dish to being a sauce in a spicy pork ramen noodle dish, a marinade for grilled pork or chicken, or slather it on a burger for a really interesting flavor pop.  One of guest chefs just came up with a cool taco recipe using an Indonesian Sambal Crema.

The possibilities for its use in your cooking is completely up to you and how creative you want to get. Serious Foodie understands that gathering many ingredients isn’t the easiest and most cost effective way to cook a specific dish from a certain region or country. Our versatile sauces focus on regional cuisines, and contain at least one specific ingredient from that region. We’ve done the hard work of collecting all the ingredients and making a product you can use to create some fun & delicious dishes. Our goal is to make home gourmet cooking simple and interesting – and to connect people by sharing food cultures from around the world.

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