Today’s recipe, Sambal Ijo, is one of my favourite South East Asian condiments, for its flavour, its colour and its heat! You know, all these years of growing different chillies every summer and I’ve never got around to blogging about them – fancy that! We change it up a little every summer but basically, always have a combination of mild, spicy, very spicy and exotic! For example, this summer, we’ve got Mulato, Poblano, Thai Birds Eye, Dorset Naga and the White Bhut Jolokia, just to name some. I know I’m probably doing this the wrong way around but in my next post, I’ll share with you some of the chillies that we’re growing – with pictures! In the meantime, here’s a teaser, one of the world’s hottest chillies at around 800 000 – 1 million Scoville units!
We’ve done so many different recipes with our chillies, from simple Thai and Vietnamese dips to marinades, and like today’s recipe, sambals.
What is a sambal? There is no direct translation for the Malay/Indonesian word “sambal”. For the most part, it can be both a dry-ish type of condiment or a dish with a little bit of sauce meant to be eaten as a side dish. However, in both instances, they will be spicy. Sri Lankans have the same thing too, spelled “sambol”, famously, “Pol Sambal”, a spicy condiment with a grated cconut base.
This Sambal Ijo is a very green condiment, the colour comes from the green birds eye chillies and green tomatoes used, although I go a step further by adding some coriander (cilantro) leaves to my recipe too. Ijo is the Indonesian word for green, in Malay, it is hijau.
How to get the best out of your Sambal Ijo?
Traditionally, this is a very spicy recipe but as I do, you can always make it milder by using jalapeños or a mixture of jalapeños and birds eye or piri piri chillies, as long as they’re green. When making my various condiments, I love to go for a heat range that allows me to enjoy the actual flavour of the dish too, not just aim for debilitating heat! Know what I mean? Of course, one man’s heat is another man’s…! So, if you’re not sure what you can handle, start low!
Tomatoes in this recipe: they have to be green. Those of us not in the tropics, summertime is the only time we can find green, unripe tomatoes of course and in my case, I love using toamtillos for this for that extra zing! If you can’t find fresh green tomatoes, see if you can find a Mexican grocer/shop and look for their canned tomatillos – perfect!
Traditionally eaten as a condiment but also wonderful as a topping and a marinade.
- 12 mild green chillies like jalapeños
- 2-3 birds eye chillies
- 2 green tomatoes or tomatillos
- 2 shallots
- 1 small garlic
- 1 small handful fresh coriander/cilantro
- 2 tbsp water
- 1tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
- 1tsp white sugar
- half tsp salt
- juice of half a lime
- Place all ingredients A in a chopper and chop to a coarse blend. You could also go for a smooth blend here but I think the sambal tastes so much better with texture.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan or small wok on medium heat.
- Sauté the chopped ingredients, adding the sugar and salt in. Stir occasionally, you’ll be cooking this for about five minutes, by which time that lovely aroma will be filling up your kitchen.
- Take off the heat and stir the lime juice in.
- Transfer to a clean jar and it should keep for a week in the fridge.