When it comes to food, my family would know best. I grew up with home cooked meals made with love by my mother and nanny. I would often come home from school being able to smell whatever my mother was cooking a level away from home. It still puzzles my mum how I can detect what she was cooking just from smelling the beautiful aromas of onion, garlic and a plethora of spices. I might have picked up cat genes from hanging out too much with my three furballs.
Sambal belado is a typical Minang sambal served often with fried fish or fried chicken. It’s something I would consider a cross between a chutney and a salsa – except that this sambal is not for the faint hearted. The combination of spicy, sweet, salty and sour creates a burst of umami flavours in your mouth. Well, to me that is what makes a sambal really syiok. I really hate it when I eat sambals that only look red but aren’t potent enough for my tastebuds. My mother thinks my tastebuds have gone haywire because my tolerance for spiciness is beyond crazy.
Three weeks ago, my mother left for a holiday Down Under. I was left home alone with my cats. I thought I would rejoice at the thought of freedom and independence, but apparently my appetite and tastebuds were screaming for my mother. Missing Malay food – not wait – missing Malay food cooked by my mum proved that I was actually missing her. I rarely eat Malay food when I’m eating out unless there isn’t a choice. So I woke up one morning with a huge craving for ayam belado only to find out that the stash my mum freezes were all gone. I had no where to go. I had to pluck up the courage and cook myself some sambal belado. After cross-referring to a few recipes online and a god-sent phone call from my mother, this is my take on her famous sambal belado.
500g fresh red chillies
200g fresh red bird’s eye chillies
2 medium sized red onions
1 bulb of garlic
1 inch of fresh ginger
2 stalks of lemongrass
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
- Wash and cute both types of chillies into chunks.
- In a food processor, blitz the chillies coarsely. You want them to be roughly chopped. Set aside.
- Peel and wash red onions. Blitz the onions in the food processor. Again, you want them to be roughly chopped. Set aside.
- Peel garlic and ginger. Cut them into chunks and blitz them into a fine paste using a food processor. You may add a bit of water into the mixture so that it blends into a smooth paste.
- In a wok, heat oil on a medium heat.
- Sauté roughly chopped onions until fragrant. Add in ginger and garlic paste and sauté until it has thicken a bit.
- Add in chillies and lemongrass and continue to fry.
- Add in salt, lemon juice and sugar and continue to fry until the sambal has thicken and the oil starts to get red. This pecah minyak process would take about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Do not leave the sambal unattended. Continue stir occasionally until it is cooked.
- Serve with freshly fried chicken or fish on a bed of white rice.