I am big fan of cooking and eating spicy food, particularly with the multitude of different Mexican chillies, as well as the more homely Calabrese treats I grew up enjoying (including delicious chilli chocolate and chilli sott’olio).
Living in Asia for several years has exposed me to a range of other spicy foods, and Sambal Sauce is a very common one. Sambal Sauce originates from Malaysia alongside some other popular Malay flavour, like Laksa (a kind of curry paste). It can also be easily found in various forms in many Southeast Asian cuisines, typically marketed in Western supermarkets as hot chilli sauce or Thai sweet chilli sauce or similar. Most of the time, it is very difficult to find vegan or vegetarian chilli sauces in Asia, since one of the base ingredients is usually tiny dried shrimp. It’s also almost impossible to find one that doesn’t contain sugar. So I’ve put together an adaptation of the traditional Sambal Sauce, but it’s vegan and free of refined cane or beet sugar. This Sambal Sauce lasts for around a week and half if well refrigerated.
Red chillies, fresh, 100g-150g (depending on your taste)
Red bell pepper, ½
Red onion, ½
Spring onion, 3
Garlic cloves, minced, 4
Fresh ginger, minced, 1 nob
Lime juice, 3-4 tbsp
Coconut oil, 3 tbsp
Raw local honey, 1/3 cup
Distilled or mineral water, 100ml
Sea salt, to taste
Ground white pepper, to taste
1. Finely chop the red bell pepper, red chillies, red onion and spring onion (as finely as possible).
2. On a medium-heat, fry alongside the minced ginger and garlic for a few minutes until the vegetables soften.
3. Season and add the lime juice and water and cook for few minutes longer.
4. Remove from the heat and set aside for around 10 minutes.
5. When the vegetables are much cooler, add the lime juice and honey and blend all ingredients until smooth. Add a little more oil if necessary.
6. Season a little more if you wish and store in tightly-sealed in the refrigerator. Serve with anything you like.
Add a little tamarind paste when you add the water too for a more sour kick. Add more honey if it’s not sweet enough for you.
Add some fresh coriander before blending. Add some seaweed salt, like Herbamare instead of sea salt, in order to get that slight salted fish taste.