In Malaysia, sambal is as ubiquitous on tables as ketchup is in America. This beloved Malaysian condiment is typically a combination of spices, aromatics and chilies—usually fresh hot red peppers. There are many types of sambal, varying from region to region and household to household (you might be the most familiar with the fresh chili Sambal Olek).
Auria Abraham's—founder of Auria's Malaysian Kitchen—version is her mum's original recipe and pays homage to her childhood growing up in Malaysia. Her sambal is cooked, condensing the fiery heat of both fresh and dried red chilies. Garlic adds a fragrant aroma and flavor, while the addition of belacan(Malaysian fermented shrimp paste) provides a rich, deep umami backbone to the sambal. A touch of cane sugar and vinegar tame the heat of Auria's Hot Chilli Sambal.
Want more from Auria's Malaysian Kitchen? Try her milder version: Lime Leaf Sambal, made with green chilies and flavored with aromatic Makrut lime leaves.
How to use
This versatile chili paste can be used both as a condiment on the table as well as an ingredient in the kitchen. Add a spoonful to stir-fries, whisk into dressings or create a flavor-packed marinade for meats with a sambal, fish sauce, lime juice and a touch of honey. Or try our recipe for Crispy Sambal Chicken Cutlets (pictured) served with a cooling cabbage salad.
While it's not traditional, we also love this hot chili paste mixed into mayonnaise. Use as spicy spread for hamburgers and sandwiches or a mouth-tingling dip for french fries, onion rings or flash-fried green beans.
About the producer
Sambal is Auria Abraham's obsession (fun fact: her nickname is "The Sambal Lady"). Born and raised in Seremban, Malaysia, Auria learned how to cook from her mum and the women in her life. She grew up surrounded by spices galore, flavorful sauces, marinades and of course, lots of sambal. Auria traveled to America in the 1990s to start school at Berklee College of Music. The thing she missed most? The food she grew up with. So she started cooking Malaysian food for her friends, pulling from the dishes she prepared with her mother like Sambal Shrimp, Beef Rendang and Curry Laksa.
These dinners were met with such enthusiasm that they later inspired a popular underground dinner series in Brooklyn, NY; which grew into stints at pop-up markets, food festivals and street fairs. In 2013, Auria launched Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen to bring the tastes of Malaysia to the American public with a line of sambal chili pastes and kaya (a Malaysian coconut spread). Her mission is to bring the distinct and wonderfully diverse flavors of Malaysia within reach of every passionate home cook with a taste for adventure.