It’s not Saturday. I missed the boat again…but let’s just pretend its Saturday today and we’re going to make a nice meal tonight. Whatever you have planned, this addition is going to fire it up a bit more, and add a bit of tropical holiday excitement to the dinner table. 🙂 So here goes…
There’s nothing like a sambal to liven up a meal. A staple among the Malays and Indonesians, sambals are made from the most common ingredients found in the village garden. Housewives from centuries ago must have first wondered what to cook for the daily meal to please the husband and the bored kids, looked out the window and found the plethora of aromatic herbs and vegetables growing. They must have picked up a bunch of their favourites, pounded them together, cooked it up and discovered it made a fabulously aromatic condiment, perfect to go with their staple of rice and fish or vegetables. At least that’s how I imagine it would have happened, and I think I’m not far off the mark.
There is an incredible diversity of sambals found throughout Asia, and they are testimony to the creativity of homecooks of the past. Always made from local ingredients, the humble sambal fires up the palate, and enlivens any meal, no matter how simple. They can be made from dried fish and prawns, to jackfruit and durian, and so much more. Stuff of the land, real locavore cooking in this part of the world. While the latter two sambals mentioned are among the more exotic examples, this green chilli and tomato sambal is something easier to make and more easily enjoyed. While it contains lots of large green chilli, they are really not hot, and you can adjust the heat as you like by the addition or omission of chilli padi.
This makes a good condiment with any rice-based meal, or grilled meat.
Green Chilli and Tomato Sambal
1 tsp belacan
4 cloves garlic, sliced
8 shallots, sliced
8-10 large green chillies, sliced
1-2 chilli padi, sliced (if you don’t have any, you can substitute it with 1/2 tsp chilli powder)
2 tomatoes cut into wedges (or use canned tomatoes)
1 heaped tsp brown sugar or palm sugar (gula melaka)
2 tsp tomato paste
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Lime wedges to serve
Heat a wok or pan and toast the belacan briefly until it is fragrant — about 30 seconds. Remove it and set it aside.
Heat 2 Tbsp cooking oil in the pan, and sauté garlic and shallots. Add in the belacan and fry for a minute or so.
Then add the green chilli, tomato wedges and chilli padi, and fry until the the chillies have softened somewhat.
Add in the tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper and cook until the tomatoes have softened. You may have to add about 1/4 cup of water if it’s too dry.
Let it cook for another 5 minutes, then transfer to a plate and let it cool a little.
Serve with a few wedges of lime.