Sambal Belacan

Belacan or pronounced as belachan (which was the old spelling), actually means dried prawn paste. The degree of saltiness varies with different brands of belacan, so it is prudent to mix the belacan in, little by little, tasting as you go along. Any leftover roasted belacan may be kept in a container in the fridge for up to two months.

Sambal Belacan
Belacan sambal is traditionally a condiment but can also be used as a ready-made sauce to stir through seafood or served on the side of fish curries. It can also be eaten with plain rice.
Cuisine: Malaysian
Recipe type: Sambal
  • ⅛ cup cooking oil
  • 1 medium size tomato, halved and seeded
  • 5 shallots
  • 75 g red chillies (about 10)
  • 25 g green chillies (about 8), optional
  • ½ tablespoon belacan shrimp paste
  • 2 tablespoon shaved palm sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ lime
  1. Heat ⅛ cup cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Fry tomato and shallots until soft and brown for 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  2. Next fry chillies until they turn a shade lighter for one minute.
  3. 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.
  4. Pound the chillies and shallots in a mortal using pestle hard and slowly for 8 minutes. Add tomato halves (skin removed), shrimp paste, palm sugar and salt.
  5. Pound for 5 minutes, until everything is mixed well
  6. Squeeze lime juice into the mortar and mix well with spoon. Serve with selections of fresh and boiled vegetables or as directed in your recipe
1. The chillies used here are mixed of green and red chillies, for presentation purpose. Red chillies are more common for sambal belacan.
2. If a milder sambal belacan is preferred, the chillies can be seeded before frying.
3. Some people prefer smooth sambal belacan, whilst others prefer a bit of texture.
4.For a coarse sambal try pounding using a mortar and pestle - a smooth sambal belacan can easily be made using a spice grinder or electric blender.
5. Sambal belacan can be stored in refrigerator in a covered container. Good for three days. Longer than that it can be a little dry.
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