Sambal Belacan Dried Shrimp

Sambal Terasi/Sambal Belacan” is a very famous South East Asian chili dip with hint of dried shrimp. The original recipe normally prepared using shrimp paste. The shrimp paste is made from fermented dried shrimp, anchovies and salt – sometimes coloring and artificial flavor – left out in the sun to bake and dry. This is known as belacan / terasi, which is then sold in a form of block wrapped in paper / plastic.

If the pungent smell is too much, dried shrimp can be used instead. Fry them in hot oil till they dry and they can replace the belacan.

This extra special hot dip is eaten with fresh / steamed vegetables (such as cucumber, carrot, string bean, cassava leaves, papaya leaves, cabbage, etc) – as a palate cleanser to other main courses served with steamed rice.


Sambal Belacan with Dried Shrimp

Makes 1 cup


75 g (20 pcs) red chilies
10 g (1/4 cup) Thai bird's eye chilies
40 g (2 tbsp) palm sugar (gula melaka/gula merah), shaved
2 garlic cloves
2 shallots
20 g (1/4 cup) dried shrimp, soaked for 10 minutes
1/2 medium size tomato, seeded
1 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 tsp salt
Juice of 1/2 lime


Cook chilies, garlic, shallots and tomato in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes, covered. Drain and set aside. Skin the tomato
Heat cooking oil in a skillet. Pan fry dried shrimp till dry and crunchy, about 3 -4 minutes
Pound all ingredients in a mortal using a pestle until fine (or desired consistency). Alternatively, blend them in a food processor / electric blender using high pulse for 5 seconds. Use a spatula, scrape the bottom. Pulse for another 5 seconds
Serve with fresh vegetables, such as cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes

This is extremely spicy. If milder dip is preferred, slice open all the chilies and remove the seeds. Also, boiling them longer will result in milder taste.
The amount of chilies used can be reduced and substituted with more tomatoes.
The chilies have to be cooked before processing in blender / mortal & pestle because raw chilies will have the "raw" taste to it. After boiling or pan frying them, the sambal will taste better.

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5 Responses to “Sambal Belacan with Dried Shrimp”

  1. 1

    elin — November 14, 2008 @ 6:24 am

    This is awesome….would like to make this as dip for grilled /barbeque fish…can’t wait to try it out :) )

    elin’s last blog post..Pork Belly Sandwiched With Yam Slices

  2. 2

    Lick My Spoon — November 14, 2008 @ 6:55 pm

    gorgeous photo! thanks for the recipe!

    Lick My Spoon’s last blog post..Sushi Bistro: Rock n’ Roll Me

  3. 3

    FamilyFirst — November 17, 2008 @ 9:57 am

    ooh .. sambal .. love it! have it all the time for all my meals in malaysia!

  4. 4

    Jun — November 18, 2008 @ 11:58 am

    I think it will be great for grilled fish.

    Lick My Spoon,

    I think we Indonesian and you guys – Malaysian have the exact same food … We are practically siblings!

  5. 5

    Sambal Belacan, the Famous Spicy Dip with Shrimp Paste — June 15, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    [...] you would like to keep your kitchen pungent-free, try the shrimp paste-free sambal [...]

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