This Malaysian paste is the culinary equivalent of harissa in North Africa and berbere in Ethiopia. Its most common use is in making quick main dishes. About 1 tablespoon of the sambalan is stir-fried with every 8 ounces of the already-cooked meat, such as chicken or beef. Coconut milk is added to make a gravy, the mixture is reduced, and the dish is served over rice.
- 20 dried red New Mexican chiles, seeds and stems removed, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
- 8 dried chiltepins, piquins, or Thai chiles, seeds and stems removed, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes (optional for a hotter paste)
- 3 onions, chopped
- 7 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp fish paste
- 1/2 cup peanut oil (or more if needed)
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- 1 cup tamarind water
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- Combine the chiles, chiltepins (if using), onions, garlic, fish paste, and l/2 cup peanut oil in a food processor and puree to a smooth paste. Heat the 1/4 cup peanut oil in a wok or skillet to high heat, add the paste, and fry until it is dark in color and the oil starts to separate. Add the tamarind water, salt, and brown sugar and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Store in bottles in the refrigerator for up to a week.
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Managing Editor | Mark is a freelance journalist based out of Los Angeles. He’s our Do-It-Yourself specialist, and happily agrees to try pretty much every twisted project we come up with.
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