Sambal belacan recipe


  • 1/8 cup cooking oil
  • 1 (120 g) medium size tomato, halved and seeded
  • 5 (20 g) shallots
  • 10 (75 g) red chilies
  • 8 (25 g) green chilies
  • 1/2 tbsp (5 g) shrimp paste (belacan/balacan)
  • 2 tbsp shaved palm sugar (gula melaka/gula merah)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lime


  • Heat 1/8 cup cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Fry tomato and shallots till soft and brown for 3 minutes. Remove and set aside
  • Next fry chilies until they turn a shade lighter for one minute
  • Drain the oil, leaving only 2 tablespoons of oil on the skillet and turn down the heat. Fry the shrimp paste quickly, break the paste using the spatula for 2 minutes. Remove from heat for later use
  • Pound the chilies and shallots in a mortal using pestle hard and slowly for 8 minutes. Add tomato halves (skin removed), shrimp paste, palm sugar and salt.
  • Pound till everything mixed well for 5 minutes
  • Squeeze lime juice into the mortar and mix well with spoon. Serve with selections of fresh and boiled vegetables


  • Chilies used here are mixed of green and red chilies, for presentation purpose only since I thought all-red sambal is boring (although equally delicious). Red chillies are more common for sambal belacan.
  • If less hot sambal belacan is preferred, the chilies can be seeded before frying.
  • Some people likes smooth sambal belacan, some preferred a bit of texture to it. I like coarse, so pounding using mortar and pestle is the best way for me to get the specific kind of consistency. Smooth sambal belacan can easily be made using spice grinder / electric blender.
  • Sambal belacan can be stored in refrigerator in a covered container. Good for three days. Longer than that, the texture can be a little bit dry.