Friday, January 2, 2009
SAMBAL TUMIS - SAUTEED CHILLIE PASTE
Sambal. An indispensable condiment in a Malay home. Pre-made sambal tumis (sauteed sambal) is a very convenient way of adding spiciness to a stir fried dish like stir fried noodles, fried rice, for mixing with some crispy fried dried anchovies or as an appetizer to a meal. I know some people with very Malayanized palates who use it like a jam by spreading it on toast and munching it down heat, spice, fire and all
Sambal tumis is not to be confused with sambal belacan. Sambal belacan is a sambal/relish/appetizer that is made by simply pounding some fresh chillies, toasted belacan and finally adding many many squirts of kalamansi lime juice and salt to mix. It is not cooked but is eaten as is. Sambal tumis is on the other hand tumis-ed which means sauteed. It is cooked in oil and usually uses dried chillies instead of fresh to achieve the dark red of dishes like prawn sambal, squid sambal, egg sambal, brinjal sambal and so on and so forth.
There are some variations of sambal of course as some people prefer a mixture of dried and fresh chillies for certain dishes. But if your intention is to store it for stir frying purposes I find it ideal to use dried chillies as I feel that a sambal that is cooked using dried chillies lasts longer.
The following recipe gives a good amount and freezes well if you find it a little too much to finish in a week. Since quite a bit of oil is used I used canola oil or for an even healthier version you could use olive oil.
Please note that I actually added more oil during the cooking process when I found it lacking. Sometimes when cooking a sambal the paste seems to absorb the oil and the sambal looks 'dry' because we add very little liquid while cooking it. In Malay cooking we are always in search of oil in our dishes. The more oil that there is floating around the merrier we are.
If oil is not what you want you can always skim it off after the cooking. I do get cheesed off myself when I see a dish swimming in oil so to clear my conscience I use olive oil if I'm cooking a dish that requires barrels of oil to make it work.
50 gm dried chillies, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained
3 medium large red onions
4 cloves garlic
4-5 candlenuts/buah keras/walnuts
1/2 inch belacan, optional
All the above ingredients are to be blended with 1/8 cup of water in a blender or processed in a food processor dry (without the water).
1 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp mixed with 3-4 tbsp water and the juice strained
2-3 tsp sugar
salt to taste
Heat up 1/4 cup of cooking oil in a small heavy/thick bottomed pot. Saute the blended ingredients, stirring on and off until the paste turns a shade darker, maybe about 10 minutes. Use a low heat all the time as the paste burns easily. Add the tamarind juice, sugar and salt and stir and let cook about 15 - 20 minutes more until the oil rises to the top and the sambal is really cooked and turns a dark red. Done. Cool and store in a clean glass jam jar in the fridge. This will last about a week or maybe more.