Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sambal Tumis, Fried Sambal

Sambal tumis means fried sambal in Malay.  Please do not judge this sauce by the very simple ingredients that go into it. It is not unfair to call this the 'mother sauce' of Malay cooking (Malay is the largest ethnic group in Malaysia), it is in fact the backbone of many Malay classics such as sambal ikan bilis for nasi lemaksambal telursambal gorengmee goreng and the list goes on. This will keep for months in sterillised jars, so do make a large batch as it is truly addictive! Make some today as you will need this for my next post :)
P.S This is a family recipe of my nanny Fatimah, given to me together with many other Malay classics which I'll be sharing with everyone soon. To my new blogger friend and birthday girl Sonia from Nasi lemak lover this one is for you.

makes 2 cups
you'll need;
300 g of shallots
1 red onion 
10 garlic cloves
20 bird chilies, remove seeds for a milder version
25 dried chilies, soaked til soften, seeds removed for a milder version
1 x 5 cm piece of belacan (shrimp paste), toasted 
6 tbs of sugar
salt to taste
3 pcs of tamarind peels
1 cup of cooking oil

Blend wet spices and belacan til smooth.

Fry the paste with oil for 5 minutes, add the tamarind peels, sugar and salt and continue to fry on medium heat for a further 15 to 20 minutes.


  1. I can smell that belacan from here...stinky but heavenly!

    This is my favorite sauce.

    Best wishes,

  2. I would love to have some of this on standby! Do you deliver? :)

  3. I echo Natasha ! I can almost smell the belacan reading this post. Looking forward to some recipes with the sambal tumis.

  4. I am so curious about Malay cooking and this looks like a very nice sauce to have! Thank you!

  5. oh wow looks a great thing to have in the fridge to spice things up!

  6. Oh I can't wait for your version of nasi lemak! I will have to get the ingredients for this today!

  7. Great post! Definitely bookmarking this.

    Mmmm tamarind is such a lovely spice. We used to have quite a few trees along our street before we moved.

  8. hello new to your blog, sambal looks delish.

  9. wah... you really like to eat spicy food!sedap kan?irrisistible!

  10. How can I judge this sauce? It looks so good! Looking forward to your next post!!!

  11. My goodness, no doubt this is almost all Malaysian's favourite! My hubby is a big fan of this thing. His sis-in-law is a Malay and they've sifted over to Sarawak 2 years ago. And 2 of his nephews also married to Malays. All their kids are studying in Chinese school. So everyone is speaking Mandarin except the mothers! Have a good weekend!

  12. perfect sambal!!!! YUM reminds me that I have to make n stock up!

  13. love this sambal!! your look so tasteful especially the oily red color! I must cook few bottle and spare in fridge..I add in everything I cooked!! yummy!!

  14. I havent had any malay food..but the look of this pic makes me feel that malay food is delicious :)

  15. Can I order this with sotong? Looks great ;DD

  16. Natasha ,
    haha not that much belacan to be smelly lol

    CW ,
    no no delivery haha, next!

    Mr Noodles ,
    haha no the shrimp paste is just the background taste! coming soon!

    Thank you! you will love malay food!

    It is one of the 10 things we need in the fridge!

    Daisy Blue ,
    Oh you have to try it then!

    KL girl in MELB ,
    Coming n you must get them now!

    Brisbane Baker,
    Thank you! i would love to have collected fresh tamarind pod!

    Peanutts ,
    Thank you, please come back!

    Yes I do! Chili kan enak sekali!

    haha thank you! you'll be very pleased!

    My Little Space,
    Oh really! I have heard about malay children going to chinese schools these days! I love this sauce! you make a very good one too!

    zurin ,
    ph thank you!

    Beachlover ,
    Thank you! the oily part means it is a success lol

    Neetz ,
    It is very delicious so please stay tuned!

    Thanks i will have more for you!

  17. Nice one- family recipes are the best. And anything with tamarind in it, I go weak for.

  18. Thanks so much for sharing this. I've been craving nasi lemak, but yet to find a good sambal tumis recipe. (Is the tamarind peel = asam gelugor? Or just the tamarind pulp?)

  19. Thank you for yet another family recipe! Fatimah must love u so much!

  20. I'm not very familiar with Malaysian food so I will be looking foward to your recipes.

  21. I can't live w/o sambal tumis! And you made a wonderful version. So sweet of you to dedicate this post to Sonia! :)

  22. That looks like an awesome sauce. Can't wait to see what your next post will be with this sauce.

  23. A new dish for me.It looks yummy!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Hope you're enjoying a great week-end!:)
    Betty xx

  24. Harriet from CarltonMarch 15, 2010 at 1:13 AM

    That looks so good! I want to know what is on tomorrow!

  25. Aiyah, I'm last, did you still keep some for Birthday girl or not? Thank you so much dedicate this sambal post to me. I'm happy to know you via blogging.

  26. Ya, my Malay friend taught me to tumis the chilli paste at least for an hour with a lot of oil, this is to get rid of the raw chili smell. Maybe you want to try it next time.

  27. Ça semble tellement chargé de saveurs.

  28. I love sambal tumis, can smell it here in Ipoh, very addictive! Snee...ze.

  29. hmmm...that looks so spicy and yummy:) Waiting eagerly for your next post:)

  30. hey that looks so nice and yummy..mouthwatering and spicy..

  31. Photos fantastic! it really allows you to taste the dish without actually..tasting! great recipe

  32. As always a delicious recipe.
    On my blog there is something for you.
    Kisses and good entry of the week.

  33. toujours des plats épicés comme je les adore, je note
    bonne soirée

  34. I love this spicy sauce! Looks very good!

  35. I'll put this on everything! Having jars of this sambal on standby is a great idea!

  36. Hey buddy after reading what a versatile sauce this is, I'm going to make a big batch on my off day! Cheers!

  37. Adrian ,
    Thank you! I am the same!

    shaz ,
    I hope you will like this one! I used gelugor but you can substitute with 3 tbs of tamrind pulp

    rosa ,
    Thank you! Yes she does! :)

    Bo ,
    I hope you will like them as much as you love your Chinese food!

    Ju ,
    Neither can I :) I put it on everything haha.

    Cool Lassi(e) ,
    Thank you! Stay tuned!

    Thank you very much! :) xxx

    Harriet ,
    Thank you I'll post that a little later :)

    Sonia ,
    Plenty more for the birthday girl :) Glad to know you through blogging too!
    I will try your method next time :) Thanks for the tips!

    Saveurs et Gourmandises ,
    Merci! :)

    Cheah ,
    Oh thank you! Oh speaking of Ipoh I want some chee cheong fun :)

    Rachana Kothari ,
    Thank you very much! on the way :)

    Deepa ,
    Thank you! It taste so good you must try!

    natural selection,
    Thank you very much! I'm glad the photos worked for you :)

    Amanda ,
    Thank you very much! :)

    Fimère ,
    Merci! :)

    Pham ,
    Thank you very much!

    Haha me too! :)

    Thanks buddy! Can you make enough for me? Good luck trying :)

  38. The colour of this sambal is so inviting! Looking forward to your next post!

  39. I have never been happy with the canned sauce, and in fact has put me off many of dishes that call for it. I am looking forward to giving it another try!

  40. Plus homemade anything always tastes better!

  41. My boys love nasi lemak, I have tried a few recipes without much success :( Looks like this is the one I need to try. Can you post a nasi lemak recipe soon? :) Thank you!

  42. This looks amazing. I wish I could smell this in my kitchen right NOW!

  43. This sauce sounds terrific! Bookmarked the recipe!

  44. Thanks for clarifying - will go hunt down some gelugor and attempt this, it looks SO good :)

  45. Your sambal looks amazing! I think it's time to make another batch soon!

  46. 我真的被這辣醬給誘惑了!

  47. Wow that oily sauce looks super delicious! I like the idea of a mother sauce! Thank you! Nasi lemak soon?

  48. Wow! red and oily! That is what a good sambal tumis should look like! Great work darling!
    Sophia xxx

  49. shanshan ,
    Thank you!

    Megan Carroll,
    Unfortunately canned sauce is full of sugar and msg besides it is cheaper to make your own. Do try and let me know :)

    love to eat,
    Thank you very much! I will try to do a post on nasi lemak once I have done a few more dishes suitable as side dish for nasi lemak. Do try and love your feed back!

    Lady Ren,
    Thank you! That was a very nice smell indeed!

    5 Star Foodie,
    Thank you! ;)

    shaz ,
    Thank you :) Hope you'll like the result.

    Thank you! I'm going to triple the amount next time, all gone!

    大肥 ,

    Yasmin ,
    Thank you very much! I will do a nasi lemak post soon :)

    Thank you darling! xxx

  50. yumyumyum! Wow look what's happened to your blog! you're a celebrity now Suresh :P

  51. Just made my sambal tumis. OMG!! it smells so good and taste heavenly! Been looking for the perfect sambal tumis and alas, found it in your blog!!!

  52. Will definitely be making this as a base for some of your other recipes. One question: how long does it keep for?

  53. Thanks Nick! It will keep for a month in the fridge, just make sure there is a layer of oil over the sauce,

  54. Here I go with yet another "amateur" chef question. That layer of oil over the sauce, does one take up some of the oil with the actual sauce when measuring out a portion to cook with? Or is the oil purely there as a preservative (although that deliciously flavoured oil will never go to waste in my kitchen... can always use it to fry off onions etc. in other dishes). Best Rox

    PS. Always shake with excitement when I spend a few hours going through your Blog... busily printing out recipes, and so looking forward to making each of them.


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