Sambal Oelek aka Sambal Ulek. A delicious spicy chili sauce made with chilies, onion, shallots, garlic, tomatoes and oil. Ready in 20 minutes!
A flavorful hot sauce that is popularly used in Southeast Asia, like in stir fries.
What is a sambal oelek?
It's a chili garlic sauce that is often used in South-East Asian as one of their iconic spicy condiments. It originates from Indonesia and it's an Indonesian word.
The main ingredient is red chili peppers and green chilies. The other simple ingredients include tomatoes, shallots, onion, garlic, oil, and other seasoning ingredients.
This sambal oelek recipe is different from Sriracha sauce as it's not smooth and it's more thick and chunky in texture. The natural color comes from the tomatoes and red chilies.
What does sambal oelek taste like?
Authentic sambal oelek is a spicy Indonesian chili paste that is also a bit chunky thanks to the hot red chile peppers, green chile peppers, tomatoes, onions and shallots. The flavor of the ground fresh chili paste is elevated with chicken powder, sugar, salt and garlic.
How do you use sambal oelek?
My homemade sambal oelek is used in noodle dishes like Mee Goreng, Mee Bodoh, or curries, stir-fry dishes, nasi goreng or as a condiment to any dish you want to make spicy. It is sometimes used to marinate meat as well.
Easy to make!
This sambal oelek recipe is very easy to make. You simply need to char your prepared aromatics and chilies in some oil. Then you can blend the sambal oelek chili paste in a blender or food processor. The traditional way to ground the mixture in a stone mortar and pestle. Lastly, sauté it in a pot with the remaining seasoning ingredients for 10 minutes and now you have your own sambal oelek!
You will need the following ingredients for the best sambal oelek. Please scroll down to Recipe Card below for full measurements.
- Neutral oil: like avocado oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil or canola oil - avoid using olive oil due to overpowering scent.
- Red chilies: for mild use whole red chilies (serrano peppers, cayenne peppers, or red jalapenos) that have been de-seeded. You can find this ingredient at your local grocery store. For extra spicy use bird's eye chilies.
- Green chilies: for mild use jalapeño peppers that have been de-seeded. For extra spicy use bird's eye chilies
- Tomatoes of any kind (I used cherry tomatoes for a sweeter flavour)
- Garlic cloves
- Salt: or soy sauce
- Chicken powder
- Lime juice
How to make Sambal Oelek
In a hot wok or deep pan on high heat, add 2 tbsp avocado oil, followed by your red and green chilis, onion, shallots, tomatoes and garlic cloves. Char them until the edges are browned. Remove and transfer to a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle.
Blend on high or ground chili peppers and other ingredients until finely grounded.
Pour the ingredients back into the pan (I recommend doing this outdoors on a portable stovetop to prevent inhaling hot chili smoke which can lead to a coughing fest!)
Bring the paste to a boil and add ½ cup oil, sugar, salt, lime juice and chicken powder. Stir to mix. Allow this to simmer on low heat for 10 minutes uncovered. Taste and season with more sugar, salt or chicken powder if needed.
Allow this to cool and transfer to a mason jar. Serve & enjoy!
Notes: Store sambal sauce in fridge in an airtight container to last for at least a week. You can freeze your plastic jar of sambal and it will last 5-6 months.
Can I use dried chilies?
I would not recommend it as a substitute as it's dried and not fresh.
How long will it last for?
It will usually last 5-6 days in a sealed container in the fridge. Or you can freeze it so it can last a long time, about 5-6 months.
Other recipes you may like!
Sambal Oelek (Indonesia Chili Paste)
- 2 tbsp avocado oil or any neutral oil
- 70 grams red chili peppers For mild version: use red chili peppers like serrano's, fresno, cayenne, or tobasco. For extra spicy: use bird's eye chillies
- 70 grams green chili peppers For mild version, use jalapeno peppers. For extra spicy: use bird's eye chillies
- 260 grams tomatoes I used cherry tomatoes for a sweeter flavour
- 2 shallots halved
- 1 small yellow onion sliced
- 1 bulb garlic peeled
- ½ cup avocado oil or any neutral oil
- 4 tbsp white granulated sugar
- ½ tbsp salt
- 3 tsp chicken bouillon powder omit if vegan (aka chicken stock powder)
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- In a hot wok or deep pan on high heat, add 2 tbsp avocado oil, followed by your red and green chilis, onion, shallots, tomatoes and garlic cloves. Char them until the edges are browned. Remove and transfer to a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle.
- Blend on high or ground with pestle until finely grounded.
- Pour the ingredients back into the pan. Tip: I recommend doing this outdoors on a portable stovetop to prevent inhaling hot chili smoke which can lead to a coughing fest!
- Bring the paste to a boil and add ½ cup oil, sugar, salt, lime juice and chicken powder. Stir to mix. Allow this to simmer on low heat for 10 minutes uncovered. Taste and season with more sugar, salt or chicken powder if needed.
- Allow this to cool and transfer to a mason jar. Serve & enjoy!