Sambal Belacan

by Lisa K. on Tue, February 27, 2018

Need a good, basic sambal belacan recipe? We’ve got you! I mean can you imagine having a Malay meal spread without sambal belacan?? It’s like lagu tanpa irama! A song without a melody… The best way to make it is to use mortar and pestle but a blender does the trick too if you don’t want to use elbow grease. And we will show you different ways to tweak it up a notch.

Make the best sambal belacan for your meal!

Serves 10 people

If you don't have asam jawa, fresh lime will do the trick.

Use fresh chillies that have been washed thoroughly for the sambal belacan to have a longer shelf life.

Foodster's Verdict

Sambal Belacan


  • Preparation
  • Total
    5 red chillies
    3 green chillies
    3 red bird’s eye chillies
    2 green bird’s eye chillies
    1 tbsp. belacan (make sure you dry fry it first to release the smokiness)
    1 ½ tsp. salt
    2 tbsp. sugar
    1 tbsp. gula melaka, chopped
    1 tbsp. fresh tamarind, diluted with ¼ cup water
    Juice of 1 lime, optional

    Condiments To pair It With
    Diced tomato
    Quinin or Mango

1. Wash all of the chillies and roughly chop it up and put it all in a blender.

2. Add in belacan, salt, sugar, gula melaka and tamarind juice without the seeds.

3. Blitz until desired texture. You can have it slightly chunky or blend it until really fine.

4. Chillies’ intensity and quality of tamarind juice varies. Adjust the amount of tamarind juice, salt and sugar to your taste.

This is the basic sambal belacan. You can enjoy it like this, or you can add other ingredients to tweak it

To amp it up a notch you can do variations with:

Diced tomato to mellow down the sambal belacan

Simply dice up some fresh tomatoes and mix it in with the basic sambal belacan.

Cincalok & sliced shallots for some fishy twang

Chop up some onions and add it to the sambal with some cencalok. We like to add a squeeze of lime to this too!

Mango or quinin for a fruity bite

Oh this is a good one, slice up some quinin thinly and swirl it in. When I make this I like to make it super fiery to balance the sweetness so I will add in some extra cili padi.

Tempoyak for durian lovers (not as stinky as you imagine)

A good spoonful of tempoyak takes this up a notch. In the East Coast they even add budu to the mix.

Try it all and pick your favourite! Mine is sambal belacan tempoyak because ooooo it is so good!

Note - Sambal belacan can be kept in the fridge up to 1 week or 1 month in the freezer.