I’m plumb exhausted from Chinese New Year. While Singapore gives 2 public holidays for CNY, the truth is that the lunar new year lasts 14 days, which is why the fun never stops! So while we haven’t been doing a huge amount of cooking to date, yet we have enough going on to keep us busier than normal. Part of it is my fault – I was less organized this CNY so while I usually buy my favourite sambal belachan from Ghim Moh market, I had to make a batch to tide us over the holiday season.
This recipe was originally from my mother – I remember she always made this for the dinners she had to hold for standing committee meetings that Dad ran once a month. This was one of my food memories from my teen years and I remember I wangled this recipe from her more than 10 years ago. Recently however I was slightly inspired by what I noticed in the local supermarkets – there are chinchalok chili sauce bottles now available and I thought that adding chinchalok to the sambal belachan would add another layer of flavour to an already flavourful belachan recipe.
I was not wrong! The chinchalok really added a salty umami dimension to this sambal recipe. The best praise came from Mum herself – she asked me where I got this very good sambal from…so I broke it to her that it was her original recipe with a twist. I think this recipe will go down into the family recipe archives.
Chinchalok Sambal Belachan
- 1 cup shallots, peeled
- 1/2 cup garlic, peeled
- 1 cup fresh chilies, deseeded
- 1/2 cup dried chilies
- 2 tbsp dried belachan
- 2 tbsp sugar substitute
- 1/4 cup chinchalok
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Juice of 10 small calamansi limes
- 2 tbsp peanut oil
- With a non-stick skillet over medium heat, dry fry the belachan for about 2-3 minutes till crumbly and toasted.
- Finely chop the shallots, garlic, fresh and dried chilies and the toasted belachan in a food processor. To get a finer texture, you can pound in a mortar or process even more finely (I use a spice grinder for this).
- Heat up 2 tbsp in a wok over medium heat. Stir fry the chinchalok first for about 1-2 minutes, then add the belachan and chili mixture to the wok. Continue to stir fry for 5-10 minutes till the belachan is slightly darker and fragrant.
- Add the limes, salt and sugar substitute to the mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning according to your preference.
- Serve with your favourite local dish.