The other day I asked on my Facebook Fan Page “What makes a great Nasi Lemak” and almost everyone who commented agrees that it’s definitely the sambal and rice that made you lick your plate or in my case my fingers clean. It’s very common to have many versions of sambal, some may like it slightly sweeter or spicier, some like it with lots of oil or some prefers their sambal on the drier side just like how my wonderful mommy makes hers. And now that I'm staying on my own I try to replicate her great sambal but sad to say I failed miserably only because I was impatient while cooking the sambal. Yes you have to be real patient when cooking sambal because you have to stand over the stove stirring the chilli paste over slow fire for hours until
you sweat buckets the paste is properly cooked and you’ll get the best sambal ever. The kind that make you drink glasses of iced water but at the same time you just couldn’t stop eating it. And another reason why her sambal is so yummy is because she do the whole works ; boil dried chillies, cut and de-seed fresh chillies, pounds the chillies shallots using mortar and pestle and she’s very patient.
Anyway during my earlier attempts, I cheated by using chilli paste which is readily available at most supermarkets and wet markets and even though the sambal turns out nice but it’s not as nice as mom’s. It’s only recently I decided to take the plunge and make sambal from scratch so when my mother in law said this to me “Your sambal is as good as your mom’s” only I realized that all the effort made is worth it especially when your in-laws praises your cooking eh. Although there’s nothing wrong in using chilli paste like in the recipe I shall share with you all after this, do try to make the chilli paste from scratch which the recipe I’ll post up soon.
2 cups ikan bilis (anchovies) , soaked and washed
1 large onion, sliced
5 tablespoon chilli paste
8-10 shallots, pounded
oil for frying the anchovies (leave about 5 tablespoons of oil for the chilli paste)
1 inch of belacan (those in blocks) or you can use 2 teaspoon of belacan granules ( toasted in a pan for 5 minutes over medium heat )
1/2 tablespoon of sugar or more to taste
1 pingpong size tamarind paste (mix with 1 cup of water, strain and keep aside the mixture liquid and discard the seeds)
1. Heat oil in a wok, stir-fry the anchovies until crispy and golden brown. Drain the anchovies on kitchen paper towel and set aside.
2. Saute pounded ingredients, chilli paste and belacan until fragrant. Add in big onions and tamarind juice and stir-fry well.
3. Keep on stirring over low heat until oil starts to ooze out and at this point you have to be careful, don’t overcook otherwise your sambal would start to burn. Add in the sugar and tweak according to your tastebuds. Stir in the anchovies.
4. Dish out and serve with your favourite dish or Nasi Lemak with Ayam Goreng Berempah.