Most Indonesian enjoy savory food with a side of sambal (chili sauce). This practice is so ingrained in our psyche that even western food franchises such as KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, e.t.c. are forced to serve their food with a bottle of chili sauce alongside the requisite bottle of tomato ketchup. In fact, I always thought that the pairing of sambal and tomato ketchup is a universal thing, and it only dawned on me that this is not so when I came to the United States for my college education. Ye Gods, I don’t want to talk about the chili withdrawal syndrome back in those days, you have no idea how happy I was when I finally got a hold of a bottle of chili sauce.
There are many kind of sambal in Indonesia, but the one paired with tomato ketchup to serve alongside western food is derived from sambal Lampung, and since this sambal always come in a bottle, we lovingly call them sambal botol (bottled chili sauce). If you visit any supermarket in Indonesia, you will see many varieties of sambal botol, from spicy to mild to sweet. The one I present here is probably what I will call the normal version, which to me has a balance amount of sweetness, sourness, and spiciness. You can adjust the amount of chilies, tomatoes, and sugar to suit your taste.
- 100 gram dried red chilies
- 100 gram garlic
- 200 gram tomatoes, peeled
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 teaspoon rice flour
- ½ cup water
- 80 gram sugar
- 5 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon fish sauce
- Remove the seeds from dried chilies, soak in hot water for 15 minutes to rehydrate. Drained.
- With a blender, puree soaked chilies, garlic, tomatoes, and ½ cup of water into a smooth paste. Transfer the chili paste into a sauce pot.
- Mix together corn starch, flour starch, and ½ cup of water. Add this to the sauce pot, along with with sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Mix well.
- Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 25-30 minutes, stir frequently.
- Transfer to clean and sterilized glass jar(s) or glass bottle(s). Store in the fridge. The sauce actually tastes better if you let them sit in the fridge for one day. It should keep for up to 3 months in the fridge.