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28 September 2016

A recipe for homemade Sambal Oelek, the classic chili paste used for cooking, made with a variety of ground chili peppers, vinegar and salt. It is ideal for seasoning noodle dishes and enhancing the flavors of sauces.

We know you all love sriracha – Homemade Sriracha, anyone? – but have you cooked with Sambal Oelek? Perhaps it is time to begin. You can purchase Sambal Oelek from the grocer and carry it home, but once you realize how simple it is to make on your own, you’ll never want the store bought version again.

Fresh is always best, and you can’t get much fresher than this.

What is Sambal Oelek?

While Sriracha is distinctly Thai, Sambal Oelek is Indonesian, and it is essentially a raw chili paste that is ground. It uses very few ingredients, traditionally red chili peppers, vinegar and salt.

It can be used as a base to make sambals and other sauces, and works best when used more as a condiment or flavoring ingredient than as a direct sauce or hot sauce.

Homemade Sambal Oelek Recipe

There are variations, of course. A tour of the web will find other ingredients added to Sambal Oelek, such as garlic, lime juice, different vinegars and more, though at some point, with such additions, the paste stops being Sambal Oelek and becomes something else.

That’s OK! This is what Sambal Oelek is for, to be used as a base, a springboard to new and interesting flavors. I’ve also seen recipes with the paste cooked down a bit.

I suppose this would mellow it out, but traditionally the paste is simply ground with a mortar and pestal, though you can use a food processor to achieve the same effect, of course.

What Types of Chili Peppers are Used for Making Sambal Oelek

Let’s talk chili peppers. Thai peppers would be optimal for this recipe, but you truly have many, many other options.

Red Chili Peppers for Sambal Oelek - Recipe

If you can’t find Thai peppers, or if they are too hot for you, try cayenne peppers, red serranos, or red jalapeno peppers. Of course there are many other options, but these particular peppers work the best in order of descending heat levels.

How to Make Sambal Oelek

Making Sambal Oelek is very simple. Add your chili peppers, vinegar and salt to a food processor or other grinder. A Molcajete is a great option here.

Next, grind the mixture until a course paste forms.

Add the resulting chili paste, Sambal Oelek, to a jar and cover. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Serving Ideas for Sambal Oelek

In truth, Sambal Oelek works great as a simple way to preserve your peppers. The salt and vinegar will let you keep them a long time. Pop it into the fridge and pull it out to swirl into any sort of soup or stew, anything in a crock pot or slow cooker.

Swirl it up into a bowl of hot noodles with some soy sauce and fish sauce and you have a super simple lunch.

Quick and easy!

I used it just last night by adding a couple tablespoons to a traditional pesto, then tossed it with noodles. Topped it with some seared salmon and BOOM! Quick, easy dinner with just the right touch of spice.

Here are a Few Recipe Suggestions for Sambal Oelek

Time to make the Sambel Oelek! Let me know how YOU use it.

Learn more about How to Make Chili Paste.

Homemade Sambal Oelek Recipe

Other Popular Chili Sauce Recipes

If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

4.25 from 8 votes
Homemade Sambal Oelek Recipe
Sambal Oelek Recipe
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 
A recipe for homemade Sambal Oelek, the classic chili paste used for cooking, made with a variety of ground chili peppers, vinegar and salt. It is ideal for seasoning noodle dishes and enhancing the flavors of sauces.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 20
Calories: 9 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 pound red chili peppers - Thai is traditional but red jalapenos, serranos and cayenne peppers are good substitutes
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
OPTIONAL ADDITIONS
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
Instructions
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or other grinder. A Molcajete is a great option here.
  2. Grind until a course paste forms.
  3. Add to a jar and cover. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Recipe Notes

NOTE: You can also simmer this sauce over low heat about 10 minutes before jarring to mellow the flavors, but raw, uncooked is traditional.

Heat Factor: Medium-Hot

Nutrition Facts
Sambal Oelek Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 9
% Daily Value*
Sodium 350mg 15%
Potassium 77mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 2g 1%
Sugars 1g
Vitamin A 5.3%
Vitamin C 66.9%
Calcium 0.5%
Iron 1.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Sambal Oelek Recipe

 

Sambal Oelek - A recipe for homemade Sambal Oelek, the classic chili paste used for cooking, made with a variety of ground chili peppers, vinegar and salt. It is ideal for seasoning noodle dishes and enhancing the flavors of sauces. | ChiliPepperMadness.com #HotSauce #Sambal #Spicy

12 comments

  1. Why do the jalapenos need to be red? Is there a taste difference between green jalapenos and red ones?

    REPLY: Mogie, the red are the ripest and a bit sweeter. You CAN use green jalapenos, though you won’t get the vibrant red color. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  2. Three or four tablespoons of Sambal Oelek mixed into 1-1/2 pounds of 80/20 ground beef makes delicious burgers. I also enjoy adding a teaspoon or so to my breakfast omelette. The store-bought Sambal has become a staple in our household. Now I look forward to making it fresh.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, DaveR! Hoping you enjoy it.

  3. I use it on/in everything. Tonight I stirred some into baby Brussels sprouts with balsamic sauce. Can’t live without it♡

  4. Can I proceed this in a water bath? Or will that change the flavor too much?

    REPLY: Renee, I believe you should be able to. It might slightly cook the mixture, but some people cook theirs anyway. I think you’d be OK. Check the ph. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Florentina, you can easily dial back the heat by using milder peppers.

  5. Yo Sumartojo

    Re: Sambal Oelek

    The word “oelek” (this is an old spelling for “ulek” which in Javanese means “crushing” in a mortar and pestle. Sambal means “hot sauce”.

    I add a little bit of palm sugar to the “Sambal ulek”. Another popular “Sambal” is “Sambal terasi” consisting of chili pepper, salt and shrimp paste (“terasi”). Almost all Javanese know this traditional Sambal.

    I am experimenting to make “Sambal” for my friends with different ingredients (Habanero, chili, jalapeño peppers, etc. with cranberry, peach, mango, palm sugar, Kaffir lime leaf, fish sauce, etc.)

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sounds like some very fun experimenting!

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