Chilies ...the be all and end all ingredient in Indonesian cuisine. It is ever present in most savory cooking,though never center stage but always a supporting role. Its absence makes a dish incomplete. Never quite the star, it always shines in the chorus.
As a granddaughter to one of the best Sambal makers in the heart of Central Java during the colonial times, I am recreating this condiment in honor of my grandmother. Every household has its own version. I encourage you to experiment and put your own twist on it. Hot sauce lovers, pay attention, this one is good enough to put in your bag.
Granny's Sambal Badjak
(Javanese Sweet Chili Sauce)
Servings: 1 half pint jar (approx. 48 servings)
1 bulb of garlic (roughly 6-8 cloves)
2 cups of assorted chiles seeded and pulverized either by hand using mortar and pestle or food processor. ( Hungarian wax pepper, mini sweet red peppers, cayenne, red poblano, thai bird’s eye chili. Depending on the chilis available, you want the sweet chili peppers to make up most of the bulk and the heat controlled by using as many as you can endure.)
1-2 fresh tomatoes
lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
2-3 Kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass
1 tsp Shrimp paste (I prefer Blachan / Terasi powder)
1/4 cups coconut oil or grapeseed oil
In food processor : pulverize shallots & garlic, set aside.
Pulverize seeded chilis, set aside.
Heat cast iron pan with 1/4 cup of coconut oil, sauté shallots and garlic until fragrant. Add shrimp paste and cook until it releases the shrimp aroma. Add chilis, and tomatoes to temper the heat and add volume. Continue to cook slowly and stir often. You want to cook it until the chili oils are extracted and color turns from fresh red chilis to darker more caramelized. Keep on low heat stirring often to prevent the burning at the bottom of the pan.
Add salt and sugar to taste.
Add bruised lemongrass that’s cut into 3" pieces and kaffir leaves and let it steep during cooking. Once ingredients are cooked down and the flavors reach a perfect balance, remove from heat. Add lime juice and stir. This can be frozen up to 2 months, refrigerated in a jar for a week.
Great with roasted chicken, steak, shrimp, tofu, tempeh,eggs and even my favorite... grilled cheese! You can put this on everything.