Javanese Sambal Bajak

Sambal is a spicy condiment found across Indonesia (and Malaysia and Singapore), with countless regional, cultural, and personal variations. This Javanese sweet and spicy sambal from Indonesian chef and TV personality William Wongso is tamed slightly by cooking the Thai chiles, toning down their bite. Fermented shrimp paste adds a savory intensity. Try it with Wongso's Nasi Goreng Jawa, his East Java–style Indonesian fried rice. Read More: The Fiery, Fascinating World of Sambal

Javanese Sambal Bajak
Photo: Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Marian Cooper Cairns / Prop Styling by Natasha Kolenko
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Yield:
1 1/4 cups

Ingredients

  • ½ cup neutral oil (such as grapeseed oil), divided

  • 2 cup chopped tomatoes

  • ½ cup chopped seeded fresh red Kashmiri or other mild red chiles (from 2 1/2 ounces chiles)

  • ½ cup chopped shallots

  • ½ cup chopped garlic

  • ¼ cup sliced unseeded fresh red Thai chiles (from 1 1/4 ounces chiles)

  • 1 teaspoon terasi (fermented shrimp paste) (such as Shrimp & 6A Brand)

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar or palm sugar

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium. Add tomatoes, Kashmiri chiles, shallots, garlic, and Thai chiles; cook, stirring often, until mixture is tender and dry and starts to stick to bottom of skillet, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large dish-shaped mortar and pestle (such as an Indonesian cobek and ulekan). Add terasi; crush together using pestle until mixture is mostly smooth but still has a little texture, about 5 minutes.

  2. Heat remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium. Stir in tomato mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture sizzles, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in brown sugar, salt, and granulated sugar. Cook, stirring often, until chile mixture turns a shade darker and oil becomes saffron-colored, about 7 minutes. Transfer mixture to a small bowl; let cool 15 minutes.

  3. Heat remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium. Stir in tomato mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture sizzles, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in brown sugar, salt, and granulated sugar. Cook, stirring often, until chile mixture turns a shade darker and oil becomes saffron-colored, about 7 minutes. Transfer mixture to a small bowl; let cool 15 minutes.

Make Ahead

Sambal can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

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