I make one of the most versatile Indonesian condiments to have on hand—and use in other Indonesian dishes—for this Special Dish for the Week:
This very spicy chili paste can be used directly in recipes or as a condiment served at the table allowing guests to spice up the dish on their plates.
In a pinch, a single red Thai chili pepper can be used in a recipe instead, although balancing out the flavours with the other ingredients in this paste gives that much more depth to the dishes that call for it.
Care is advised when handling these chili peppers, specifically to wash hands, utensils and chopping boards immediately after handling the chili pepper. Prolonged contact with the skin turns the skin quite painfully itchy, as I accidentally discovered in the past—and contact with the eyes and other body parts or orifices is definitely to be avoided if serious pain is not desired.
I use the following ingredients to make this wicked-sounding paste:
- red Thai chili peppers*, finely chopped with seeds in (quantity and seeds in or out dependent on desired spiciness)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3-5 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
* I use about 20 chili peppers with seeds in, which means very little is needed for each dish and it looks like it will last me for a while
I boil the chopped red Thai chili peppers in water, covered on low heat for about 15 minutes. In my first trial of this paste, I used a little too much water and wasn’t patient enough to reduce it, so my paste turned out as more of a sauce. But no matter! Its spiciness prevails regardless, and I exercise extreme caution with the tip of the teaspoon when adding the saucy paste to my dishes.
I chop the cooked chili peppers in a blender together with the remaining ingredients, and on the advice of the recipe, I store the sambal oelek in a glass container with non-metallic lid in my fridge for several weeks.
Meal ideas & recipes from Periplus Mini Cookbooks “Step by Step – Indonesian Cooking”.