Monday, March 17, 2014

Sweet or Spicy? Two Yummy Sambal Chillies

My son is becoming five soon... I'm hoping to teach him to eat a little chilli so that I can slowly introduce a variety of Singaporean traditional food. I'm hoping too that he can learn the roots of Singaporean culture through food. 

Unlike my son, my husband eat chillies like nobody business... LOL! I reckon this is the way we were brought up, training us to be extremely chilli-tolerant. For us, I'm cooking two different sambal chillies in this post. One is the sweet kind with gula melaka (palm sugar). Another is the spicy kind with lots of chillies and coconut milk. Both are quite different in taste and level of its spiciness but equally delicious and fragrant when they are served with crispy fried anchovies, nasi lemak (coconut rice) or even plain rice!

I thought that my son would at least try a little of the sweet sambal chilli. Not surprising at all, he didn't like anything even the crispy anchovies. I guess that I have to keep trying...

Nyonya sweet spicy sambal chillies
Two Sambal Chillies... Both are equally yummy!
Ingredients to make the sweet sambal
Ingredients to make the spicy sambal
Frying the dried anchovies
Nyonya coconut gula Melaka sambal chillies
Spicy vs sweet
Combine sambal with crispy anchovies when ready to serve...

Here are the recipes (with my notes and modification in blue).

from Sonia, Nasi Lemak Lover

15g dried chili (trim and cut, boil in hot water and drained)
2 fresh red chilies, de-seeded
3 large onions
a small knob of belacan (shrimp paste), pre-toasted
50g Gula Melaka (palm sugar)
1 piece tamarind peel (asam keping)
(replaced with 1 tbsp tamarind puree)
1 cup cooking oil
(reduced to 1/4 cup of canola oil) 
1/2 cup water
(I didn't add this)
salt to taste

Blend dried chilies, fresh red chillies, onions and belacan (with little water - I didn't add this) till fine paste.

Add in blended chilli paste into remaining oil, sauté till aroma.

Add in gula Melaka, tamarind peel (puree) and salt, continue to sauté over low flame for 30 mins. Cook till half way, paste will become thick, add in water and continue cook (I didn't do that).

Note: I fried mine for about 30 min until the sauce darken in colour and has nice aromatic fragrance and reckon that I didn't have to add water to cook further.

Sambal Anchovies
from the book, The best of Singapore Recipes: Nonya Specialties by Mrs Leong Yee Soo

115g dried chillies, washed, soaked with warm water and de-seeded
my addition: 115g fresh red chillies, about 9, washed and de-seeded
1 clove garlic, peeled
115g shallots or onions, peeled (I used shallots)
55g shrimp paste (belacan), pre-toasted
170g coconut, grated
225 ml (1 cup) water
(replaced both coconut and water with 250ml coconut milk)
170 ml (3/4 cup) cooking oil
(I used 1/4 cup of canola oil)
4 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp MSG (I didn't add that)
4 tbsp tamarind pulp (asam) (mixed with water, squeezed and strained)
(replaced with 4 tbsp of ready-to-use tarmarind puree)

Combined chilies with garlic, shallots and shrimp paste and pound to a fine paste.

Combine coconut with the water. Using a piece of muslin, squeeze coconut to extract no. 2 coconut milk. Set aside. (I use can coconut milk instead. I prefer the full fat kind for its maximum flavours.) 

Add cooking oil to a heated wok. When oil is hot, fry chili paste and one-third of the milk over moderate heat until fragrant and oil bubbles through.

Stir in seasoning ingredients and the remaining coconut milk. Lower heat and simmer for 2 mins. Remove to a bowl to cool.

I didn't follow the steps of the book exactly and this is what I did:

Instead of pounding the ingredients in fine paste, I have mixed all ingredients in a processor and process them into fine paste. The mixture were then fried for 30 mins with 1/4 cup of oil until fragrant.

Tips from the book:
  • Divide into 4 portions, pack in plastic bags and freeze for future use.
  • Each portion can be mixed with crispy anchovies and served as a side dish for Nasi Lemak. 
To fry anchovies to crisp:

Remove heads of medium-sized anchovies. Wash and drain the anchovies.

Heat cooking oil for deep-frying until very hot. Add the anchovies and fry over moderate heat until crisp and light brown. Lower heat at the end of cooking time to prevent it from turning too dark.

Remove anchovies to cool slightly on a paper towel and store in a container.

Thaw a portion of the sambal, heat through in a frying pan. Combine sambal with crispy anchovies when ready to serve.

Happy Cooking
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  1. I like semi sweet & spicy sambal.. Something in between.. When I get that in my nasi lemak bungkus (the ones pre-packed in mamak, on top of every table), gawd, I can eat 3 bungkus! Sambal is very important to me, I must have them in my rice, noodles, bread, karipap.. Oh talking anout karipap, I love karipap sambal + sardine.. I can eat 10. Yes, 10!

    1. By the way, dearie, I made your cream cheese brownie last weekend. Am gonna post about it in my next post. I love you Zoe. Even the hubs who doesn't fancy cakes (and other desserts) finished half and kept praising good + nicer than those in bakeries! OMG, can you imagine my happiness?

      I have a question Zoe. Can I use the same recipe, but add more flour (and baking soda), to turn this into a moist-chewy-gooey chocolate cake instead of a brownie?

    2. Hi Louiz,

      LOL! I like you to imagine too that my eyes was sparkling with joy reading your brownies baking experiences... LOL! My husband and son love that brownies too and asked me to bake them again but I ignored them because I have a lot more recipes to explore :p

      To modify this recipe to make chocolate cake.... errr! Adding more flour will dry out the cake batter and toughen the cake leh. I rather you use other recipe than mark around this recipe. If you want to bake a stir-and-bake brownie chocolate cake, there is a few recipes that I tried that are quite good but be careful not to over-bake the cake as stir-and-bake cakes tends to dry easier when they are over-baked. Here are the links:

      10 karipop!!! You sure you can eat so much! I'm a big eater but can barely eat 5!!! ok ok your 10 karipop must be very tiny!!! LOL!

      Good luck with your chocolate cake baking!


    3. Thank you Zoe, I'm bookmarking this.. In fact, I already snapped the recipe with my phone and save it in my folder (yes, that's my way, I malas wana write down the recipes, so I just snap using my phone).. I'm so gonna make your hazelnut chocolate cake soon, minus the hazelnut coz I'm kinda allergic to nuts..

    4. Hi Louiz,

      Sorry! I didn't know that you are allergy to nuts. I have tried baking a spongy kind of brownies by Bill Granger that I'm going to post next week... You want to see if you like it??? It is not a cake but spongy kind of brownies...

      Btw, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I was a little grumpy this morning... feeling trapped in my usual routine but feeling good now after reading what you wrote :D You made my day!!!

      I'm very HAPPY that your family and you like Nigella cream cheese brownies :D Now, the song, Happy by Pharrell William is in my head :D


  2. I like sweet sambal.... usually I blend the fried anchovies in. I guess you have to try and try till your son give you a thumbs up.

  3. Wah, long time didn't blog hop over your site. Now your talent is expanded in making sambal... My mummy home-made sambal paste is the best in the world.

  4. Sambal with anchovies really match make in heaven. Definitely great to have it on my nasi lemak dish.

  5. I introduced my 3 children to chilli when they were about your son's age. It was done with lots of patience and consistence.Now that they have grown up,only one of them can take chilli, the other two would not have chilli with mee pok, chicken rice or even French fries! Same as durian, even bribe them with $ and all three just cannot stand the smell. When there are lots of sambal and durian in my fridge, there is no raiding at night!

  6. you know, i was just asking my mum over wechat yesterday how to prepare sambal chili anchovies.. i think she nearly spat blood.. hahahhaa.... now this is better.. i need it written in english... oh and best, i didn't know there's different kind of sambal! ha... ignorant ignorant.. but through you i learn

  7. They both sound really good! I think I would have to make both.. sweet for myself and spicy for my husband :)

  8. I like both but I can't take too much chilli nowadays due to gastric problem. Anyway I can still cook these recipes for my hubby :)

  9. I love the sambals, thanks for the recipe. Quick question , does all shrimp pastes taste the same? I mean I havent seen any belacan but noticed a small tube of thai shrimp paste, will that be ok too?

  10. I like spicy kind of sambal. And I can have cili padi dipping sauce. However, I seldom cook sambal as my kids and hubby can't take the heat.

  11. My hubby makes sambal from the chilies he grows in our garden. He loves anchovies - going to tell him about this. Thanks, Zoe. Hope your Monday was smooth. We started ours w an earthquake! xo

  12. Hi Zoe, this is one of my favorite spicy sambal, thanks for sharing this recipe.

  13. Thank u so much for visiting my blog...first time here and love ur space... happy to be following u ... I see so many interesting recipes that I could try from here... would keep on visiting now and then, to cover ur blog in full :P

  14. Love this sweet and spicy sambal........Here, we used to prepare sambal either stir fry or deep fry .....This is a good version of preparation.....with a good twist of a little sweetness and a little spicenesss...Thanx for sharing :)

  15. Hi Zoe , I will have to try them both , yummy good . Thanks for sharing :)

  16. Hi Zoe, I love any dish that have chilli and especially love sambal chillies. Love these sambal that you made. If you prepare dish that have chilli regularly, I believe one day, you boy will learn to eat it :D

  17. I think it is so wonderful that you are introducing your son to different flavors and spices at such a young age, Zoe. I grew up tasting spicy foods at a very young age and I am so glad I did. I always told my children they didn't have to eat it but they always had to try it. Tastes change you know:) My daughter now tells my grandchildren the same thing, lol...I would gladly taste either one of these dishes and probably eat the entire thing!

    I am going to save this post for one day when I am feeling adventurous, lol...Thank you so much for sharing, Zoe...

  18. Oooo sambal... I love the sweet one with nasi lemak and spicy one to cook sambal prawns. My kids actually like the spicy one, whenever we cook sambal prawns, they will keep asking for more. I didn't really train them to eat spicy food, but when they like something, they will eat it regardless if it's spicy or not. :P

  19. Hi Zoe,
    I try to introduce some spicy food to my kids too, and now my son can take a little spiciness and my daughter not so much! I remember when I was very young, I ate my rice coated with lots of sambal. And now, I eat chilli practically each day with my meals. Haha!
    Both your sambal looks good! I tend to keep away from sweet sambal. I like my sambal to be spicy and salty, especially when eaten with nasi lemak. I avoid the nasi lemak stalls that have sweet sambals! LOL!
    Both your sambals would make a nice sandwich with some sliced cucumber! Great for lunch!

  20. Zoe, I will love both sambals! I think your son's tastbuds might be westernised that's why he didin't take to the ikan bilis. But keep trying, I am sure he will come around :)

  21. wow。。 this sambal good for nasi lemak.

  22. Zoe, I love your beautiful and spicy, flavorful sambal. Love your version of how you prepared it! xo

  23. Oh, I won't mind to help you finish the sweet sambal. I can't take spicy food very well, so I guess my children won't be a chilli-lover like me. I have stopped seeing that gula melaka selling in my local grocery shop but thank God my friend has bought me one from KL.

  24. I love both spicy and sweet sambal, yummy :)

  25. Oh wow love your home made sambal! Will try it sometime.