What Is Sambal And Why It Matters

Different types of Sambal from Sabang to Merauke

By Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Different Varieties of Sambal (2021) by Nugraha PratamaIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Grinding
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In Every Indonesian Kitchen

One of the Indonesian staple condiments that every Indonesian have in their kitchens, street vendors and restaurants is Sambal. Nuances of sambal recorded in Indonesia is over 300 kinds. What is Sambal? Why does it matter so much to Indonesians? 

Sambal (2019) by Vita DatauIndonesia Gastronomy Network

While chillies are integrated to Indonesian daily staples, chilli isn't originated in Indonesia. The plant came along with some 2000 other plants from American continents by the Portuguese and Spanish in 16th Century through trade and quickly became integrated in the archipelago.

Sambal (2020) by Vita DatauIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Traditional sambals are freshly made using traditional tools, such as a stone pestle and mortar. Sambal can be served raw or cooked. Cooked sambal has undergone cooking process which resulted in a distinct flavour and aroma, while raw sambal are mixed with additional ingredients and usually consumed immediately.

Sambal (2020) by Vita DatauIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Sambal masak or cooked sambals are more prevalent in western Indonesia, while sambal mentah or raw sambals are more common in eastern Indonesia. Each sambal would have its pairing with the type of protein or vegetables being served. 

Sambal by Vita DatauIndonesia Gastronomy Network

What goes into Sambal?

Common chilli variants used in sambal recipes include Cayenne pepper and bird's eye chili pepper (both varieties of Capsicum annuum).

Sambal (2020) by Vita DatauIndonesia Gastronomy Network

The chili pepper, garlic, shallot, salt and tomato are often freshly ground using a mortar, while the terasi or belacan (shrimp paste-brown) is fried or burned first to kill its pungent smell as well as to release its aroma. 

Sambal Colo2 (2021) by Nugraha PratamaIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Sambal Colo-Colo

Sambal Colo-colo is a specialty Mollucas sambal. This type of sambal usually paired with grilled fish by Ambon people.

Sambal (2019) by Vita DatauIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Sambal Dabu-dabu

Dabu-dabu is a type of sambal commonly found in Manado cuisine of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Dabu-dabu chopped red chili peppers, bird's eye chili, shallots, red and green tomatoes, and a pinch of salt and sugar finished with calamansi juice.

Sambal Dabu-dabu (2021) by Nugraha PratamaIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Sambal Matah

Balinese sambal and served raw. The ingredients are thinly sliced and poured over with coconut oil, a pinch of salt and key lime juice.

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