Like it HOT?

Today we made some sambal. Sambal is Indonesian chilli paste basically. There are many varieties, almost as many varieties as there are islands in the Indonesian archepelago. My favourite is manado, from the island of the same name, it is tomato and lemon based I think but it’s as rare as rocking horse shit to get hold of. The variations obviously depends on the ingredients and how they are mixed.
We decided to make sambal trassi, the main ingredient is the trassi, which is concentrated dried shrimp paste – very pungent & smelly. You can use almost any vegetable or fruit. Peteh beans or stinkbonen/stink beans because they stink, are fantastic once cooked and in the sambal.

Okay, here we go. How to cook. I say “I and we” because we did it together, we always do as it can involve a lot of chopping and mixing, heating oil and not putting your fingers anywhere near any of you orifices after touching any of the ingredients unless you’ve washed your hands thoroughly with the metal soap thing and cillit bang (only joking, it’ll take the skin off your hands).

We bought a 300g bag of dried chillies from the Chinese store, I then fine chopped them in the mini food chopper thingy, which I broke so I had to use the old one, then soaked them over two nights. Today we began by slowly heating a cup full of sunflower oil in a wok, stirred in a mixture of 50g of trassi which we mixed with two tablespoons of coarse sea salt in an ulekan (mortar & pestle) and half a jar of liquid palm sugar or palm sugar blocks soaked in warm water. You make it as sweet or salty as you want but remember, it’s not like making tomato soup, you can’t taste it during the making process, it will take the skin off your lips ๐Ÿ˜€

We then drained the soaked chillies and threw them into the wok. We gradually added some of the water they had soaked in, until it was all used up, brought it to the boil, turned it down and simmered it for two hours until all the water was steamed off and the chillies were dark brown, the mixture had thickened and resting in only the oil.

The stink was incredible. All the house smells of it, who cares, we live in it and eat in it and houses don’t need to smell like chemical air fresheners anyway. That’s where yer increase in kids with asthma has come from anyway.

Anyway, we are leaving it overnight to stew then dare I say it, someone has to taste it…! Well, I dipped a millimetre of the spoon in and tentatively licked the tiny globule of oil off it so I had an idea what needs to be added tomorrow if anything. It could be lemon, garlic, pineapple, orange or apple even, we’ll see tomorrow. Bloody hell. It was searingly hot, slightly sweet and not too salty, we might need to add some oil to it as it has to live in oil in a jar to preserve it so we’ll be putting it in jars tomorrow. Always bear in mind, although the chillies are very hot and kill most things dead in their tracks, fungus is not one of them and it will mold unless covered in oil and refrigerated. And yes it is true, it is as hot coming out, as it is going in! I kid thee not.
It lasts years in oil, except we use it every time we have rice or bami and it soon goes down. The two of us can go through an average sized jam jar of sambal in a month.
Try to make it yourself, just don’t rub your eyes when chopping the chillies and always wash your hands BEFORE you go to the toilet!






  1. sounds interesting. I can attest to the chilis. When I first got married a neighbor bought over some chilis for me to can. I didnt know much about canning or chilis. Lets just say by the evening I was sitting with my hands in a bowl of ice. And I never canned them again :))


    • Astrid eats them raw off the stem, even the little birds eye ones. I can if they are chopped in a salad but not off the stem. It’s a different heat to curry though when you eat it, it doesn’t last all night long and you can use as little or as much as you like to temper the food similar to turning the gas up or down to heat food. I can’t see the point of Scotch bonnets though, most of it is misplaced bravado. The birds eyes are hot enough. However we have use lombok rawits occasionally, which are very hot.


  2. Thats really tickled my tastebuds, were your dried chillis whole ones? are they better to use than fresh? Might attempt this one as spicy/nippy fod is right up our street. Go Astrid for eating them raw, done that knowingly once and to save face kept munching til i could see leprachauns dancings lol. Thanks for the recipe, always nice to try new foods ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Good questions, yes they were whole and no they are not as good as fresh ones. Fesh ones are so expensive but now and again Tesco have a “lets get rid of all the old chillies for 50p” moment, so we buy everything on the shelves, greens and reds.


    • You need about 20 decent sized fresh chillies for one jam jar. I tried ours today with zuurkool (sauerkraut) and they had a pronounced paprika flavour. I ‘ll be leaving them in the jars for a few months to marinate.


  3. Following your spicy meals, there will soon be a hole in the ozone layer over most of Yorkshire, so don’t go out in the mid-day sun. At least you’ll get a run for your money! Rarely have I eaten chilli, but always regret it afterwards. Take care and enjoy yourselves. So long for now.


  4. Oh I did have to laugh at your recipe and instructions… I have a recipe for this using chillie garlic lemongrass ginger vinegar lemon salt and lime…takes about 20 mins and I portion and freeze it..

    BTW I also learnt the HARD WAY about chillies.

    P xx


    • I hate vinegar, especially the brown stuff. We’ve had zuurkool tonight, met witte wijnazijn, not too bad but still too vinegary for my tastes. Lemongrass adds a wonderful flavour.


    • I’m a self taught cook because I love experimenting with taste, herbs, spices and heat but a lot of the Indo stuff came with Astrid. I’ve just added it to my repertoire and we’ve added an Indonesian twist to some of the usual British bland crap, as well as changing some of the usual bland Dutch recipes around to include heat and additional flavours. However, this dried chillie version if sambal is open to debate. I tasted some tonight with zuurkool (sauerkraut) and it tasted a lot of dried paprika so we’re going to leave it to marinate for a couple of months to absorb the trassi and sugars. It was very hot though. I managed roughly a teaspoon of it.


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