I love my dried shrimp sambal. It is me and my mother’s favorite. We could have just the dried shrimp sambal with plain steamed rice. Originally intended for one of the toppings of steamed yam cake, it refrigerates well for a couple of days and doesn’t need to be reheated. A little pinch goes a long way. But I usually like to add a lot more than a pinch to my rice. It is pungent, sweet, salty and spicy. I have this wild idea in my head how it would be a great ingredient for sushi roll. It could work. And toast. Toast would be good too.

Dried Shrimp Sambal, Sambal Hebi

Makes 4 servings


150 g dried shrimp, ground finely
50 g red chilies
8 shallots
3 cloves garlic
4 tbsp sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy sauce


Blend chilies, shallots, garlic, sugar, lime juice and 1/4 cup water in a blender till fine.
Heat cooking oil in a wok. Add chili paste and quickly stir-fry until it boils and turns darker.
Add dried shrimp and stir-fry for another 5 minutes.
Season with soy sauce and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve with steamed rice and other dishes.

It would pay of to look for the best quality of dried shrimp. There are many around. Our choice is usually the medium sized, clean looking dried prawns. They would have bits of shells on them. Try to pick them off as much as you can. Wash them under running water for a couple of minutes. Drain the water and pat those shrimps dried with clean kitchen towel.

Spices used are shallots, garlic, red chilies and lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup water to smooth things up if needed.

I added about 1/2 cup, which was too much. Please don’t add too much water.

We pound the shrimps in mortar and pestle till fine. Never use food processor for this, worth a try.

This is how it looks like.

Heat oil in a wok.

Add spices and quickly stir fry over high heat. The more water you add in the blender, the more spicy steam will come off the wok.

Keep on stirring until the sauce boils and changes color.

When the red turns a shade darker and small bubbles popping off the sauce, it is ready.

Add dried shrimp to the wok and mix well.

Stir fry for another 5 minutes or longer over high heat, stirring continuously.

We are cooking it until the shrimp fully absorb the sauces and dry it off over high heat.

Season with soy sauce, if desired.

When the sambal is ready, it is light and fragrant. Remove from heat and serve cool with steamed rice and other dishes.