Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sambal Belacan (Malaysian Chilli Paste)

I know I promised recipes for the cupcakes but my catering weekend is coming up so I figured sambal belacan or Malaysian Chilli Paste would save me for now :) A staple condiment that most Malaysians and possibly other Asians too would have to accompany their dishes (either as a dip or as the grounds for a sauce in a stir-fry), I would say one cannot live without it. Unless of course, you don't fancy foul smelling foods or chill in general. There are many variations to this dipping sauce, watery to thick. I have made the thicker version that only has lime juice as its sole fluid aside from the fresh chillies of course. So what goes into it?

15 stalks of red chillies
1 tbsp of belacan granules (toasted and pounded)
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt

  1. Cut the chillies into smaller portions and place in mini chopper or blender or mortar. If in mini chopper, add in the belacan granules, the lime juice and salt altogether before zapping it to make the paste. The same goes with the blender.
  2. In a mortar, firstly pound the chillies first in bits and not the entire portion of the 15 stalks you have. When pounding and getting it to almost pulp like form, add in the belacan granules bit by bit with the lime juice and salt in moderation. Continue pounding until all ingredients have been firmly incorporated together. This normally take up to 20 to 30 minutes depending on the coarseness of your mortar. 
  3. Spoon into sterilised bottles and keep refrigerated or frozen.
Many prefer the second version as you can really taste the chilli and belacan together. For sake of convenience and time, the first version is quicker. The taste is not much different from the pounded version.

What exactly is belacan some of you might ask? Here's some photos:

These are normally raw and not toasted as yet. When toasting, it'll release a rather foul-smelling fragrance / aroma (that of course us Malaysians find delectable but horrifying to gwailos) that can stink the house. So be sure to cover all holes leading outwards of the kitchen should you decide to toaste your belacan. I however use Maggi Belacan Granules (can't seem to find a picture for this) as it is already toasted and in granule form...again convenience and puts off the toasting part as well.

For variations should you want to use sambal belacan as a sauce, then blend / pound it with pre-soaked dried shrimp and shallots. 

(Dried Shrimp)

Following that, heat up a pan / wok with some vegetable oil and pour in the paste before adding your vegetables or meat.

Simple as 1, 2, 3... delicious as ever!

The promised lemon drizzle cupcakes coming up tonight!

The Innovative Baker


  1. Do you know where in the UK (or on-line) I can buy belacan?
    I'd very much like to try this sambal.

  2. Hi there! I only just saw your comment! Many apologies. You can buy them in raw blocks of paste in Asian stores. Depending on which of the UK you are in, most Chinatowns will have that store that specialises in South East Asian ingredients. In London, I'd suggest New Loon Moon on Gerard Street. Otherwise, go to Oriental City in Bayswater.


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