You may see sambal oelek near Sriracha, that ever-popular hot sauce, but do you know what it is? Is it a hot sauce? A chili paste? Something else? How spicy is it? And what flavor should you expect? Let’s dive into what makes it tick.
Table of Contents
- What is sambal oelek?
- Sambal oelek flavor profile
- Is sambal oelek spicy?
- Common uses for sambal oelek
- Must-read related posts
What is sambal oelek?
It originated in Indonesia but has grown in popularity far beyond its home region to become a global condiment. You can find many incarnations of this chili paste across southeast Asia. For example, you will find forms of it in Cambodia and Thailand. It is a simple seasoning made of bright red chili peppers and speckled with their yellowish-white seeds.
Sambal oelek exists as one of many sambals. The sambal class of condiments delivers a vast range of flavor profiles that include sour with sambal asam and sweet with sambal kalasan.
Sambal oelek flavor profile
Simplicity is among the qualities that set sambal
The flavor experience created is simple, too: sambal oelek is sweet, slightly tangy, a little salty, and spicy. It’s a natural sweetness, coming from the mature red chili peppers used in the creation of this paste.
A key difference between it and sriracha is the lack of garlic in most sambal oelek recipes. It doesn’t have that pungent undertone you experience with sriracha (which is a chili garlic sauce by definition.) The inclusion of the seeds and the thick consistency are two additional characteristics that set sambal oelek paste apart from sauces like sriracha. The seeds are mostly about texture and appearance rather than — as many people believe — heat. The texture is also far less runny.
–> Learn More: Sambal Oelek Vs. Sriracha – How Do They Compare?
Some versions of sambal oelek do come with garlic, but even those will not be intensely flavored, and some may also contain an acid to create the expected tartness. In commercial blends like the Huy Fong Foods version, you will find sodium bisulfate and xanthan gum. The sodium bisulfate is to lower pH, and the xanthan gum is to give the paste a thicker, jam-like texture.
The common commercially made types of sambal
A homemade sambal
Common uses for sambal o
Traditional Indonesian food is highly flavorful and rarely needs extra seasoning. Sambal
The mild flavor of sambal oelek allows it to work well in western dishes as well. In this respect, it is much like sriracha. Both sriracha and sambal oelek have become popular far beyond their homelands. Use sambal oelek in marinades, for beef jerky, or on hot dogs.