Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sambal Telur

There's a very high chance that this is not your first time coming across sambal telur or egg sambal in blogs by Malaysians, or sambal of any kind for that matter. If you're a fellow Malaysian, blogger or not, there's an extremely low probability that you have not cooked sambal before in your very own kitchen, arrrggchoo-ing continuously as you saute that fiery red chili paste in your wok.

The popular base sauce known as 'sambal' has chili as its main ingredient, blended to a smooth paste alongside other condiments like onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, candlenut and of course, the infamously fragrant Asian shrimp paste or 'belacan'. Different types of sambal may call for the use of different condiments.

Sambal has its roots in Malay cuisine but sambal telur has, over centuries-long of cultural assimilation, become a regular dish in Peranakan or BabaNyonya households.

By its generic name, sambal brings a meaningful form of commonality between the cuisines of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. On the other hand, through its varied forms and adaptations, sambal brings uniqueness and identity to each of the said cuisine.

The types of chilies used are usually dried chilies, although there are some recipes that may call for a mixture of dried and fresh chilies, or just fresh chilies alone. Substituting a small amount of the fresh chilies with the bird's eye variety will up the ante for those who have frequently trained and toughened tongue sensory. For the uninitiated, let's just stick to using the less spicy variety of dried or fresh chilies, whichever the recipe calls for.

Once you get a good sambal base, you can switch the eggs with poultry or red meat or seafood, like dried anchovies (ikan bilis), prawns, squids, cockles etc. Sambal is synonymous with nasi lemak (coconut milk rice), one of Malaysia's many signature meals but is also often served as a dish to go with plain rice.

Here's my regular egg sambal recipe the way I've been taught to cook it by my late Mom, who never left my heart nor my thoughts.

Egg Sambal (Serves 3-4)

4 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup cooking oil
15-20 strips of dried chilies (add more for spicier sambal)
8-10 shallots
3 candlenuts
1.5 tsp belacan (Asian shrimp paste)
1 tbsp tamarind paste, rub/mix in 3/4 cup water
4-5 kaffir leaves
2 large onions, halved then sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered (optional)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp or enough salt for taste

Use a kitchen scissors to cut the dried chilies and remove the seeds inside. Boil in a small pot of water for 5 minutes, then discard the water. Blend the chilies, shallots, candlenuts and shrimp paste. Add 1/4 cup water to ease blending. Heat the cooking oil in a wok/large pan. Saute the blended paste and kaffir leaves together for about 10 -12 minutes over medium heat until the paste is fragrant and is somewhat drier. Add in the tamarind juice, but discard the pulp and seeds. Add in the sliced onions, tomatoes, eggs, sugar and salt . Stir well and let it simmer for a few minutes. It should have a slight hint of sweetness but slightly more sourness. Add enough salt according to personal preference but do note that without enough salt, the sambal will not taste as good. Dish up and serve with rice.



  1. Yummy, yummy, yummy! I love this sambal telur, you know what we call this in Indonesia? Telur bumbu petis, I am not sure if you have petis in Malaysia? It's like belacan, but very thick (paste), black, and I think it's a bit sweeter too. Your post make me miss it, thanks for the reminder. Enak- sedap - lapar nih!

  2. Yummy, I can smell it off my screen. Best with nasi lemak!

  3. Looks so good! I love eggs in any form, so in sangam even better! Yummy, thanks for sharing this, will try it out next time when making nasi lemak.

  4. I love egg dishes, but this is something very different from any egg dish I've had. It sounds delicious!
    *kisses* HH

  5. Wow, nice...the hard boiled eggs in it...looks so yummie :-)

  6. Doesn't matter of the archoo-ing.. I love this dish!

  7. I have to start throwing eggs into my sambal from now!

  8. There is a similar Indonesian dish called 'Sambal Telur Balado' (I think).I love eggs with sambal, thanks for reminding me about this, I haven't had this dish for AGES...!!

  9. This looks really appetizing- I am longing for a plate of steamed white rice. Eh, not only fellow Malaysian bloggers lah, singaporeans also cook sambal in our kitchen ! :)

  10. Sedap! Goes well with nasi lemak!

  11. Elra, don't think we have petis here in Malaysia. if we do, I'm sure I will love it too ;)

    Shirley, yes, how can I forget s'pore bloggers too ;)

  12. I love sambal telur and also love to deep fry the eggs first :) Looks so delicious with the very generous amount of sauce.

  13. Mouthwatering. My husband will definitely love this. This is awesome Egg Sambal. If you wont mind I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your post. Just add the foodista widget to the end of this post so it will appear in the Foodista pages and it's all set, Thanks!

  14. I loved learning more about sambal and this egg sambal sounds excellent!

  15. Looks yummy. I don't mind eating this every week! Tambah nasi definitely!

  16. I love this type of dish. A nice condiment for nasi lemak or even white rice.

  17. I love sambal anything. The sambal sauce which you soak the eggs into looks incredible.

  18. I can have loads of rice with this sambal, or any sambal :-)

  19. I like sambal dishes, but never had eggs with sambal sauce. Looks very delicious!

  20. Yeap, sambal is definitely a very Malaysian thing! Sambal telur is doubt Nyonya food.

    Joslynn, maybe you can consider taking part in the Merdeka Open House:


    If you're planning on to take part, I'll hop over to read yours soon! Take care till then, buddy!

    Happy Merdeka, have a long lovely weekend!

  21. Scrumptious sambal! Please pile on the rice and let's eat away:))

  22. Mmmm...one of my top favourites. If I cook this for parties, they will gone in minutes!

  23. The tangy tamarind-based sauce plus that spice...woo la la...yummilicious egg dish. I cooked something similar before but just with tomatoes and spice.

  24. Mmmm...whenever I am homesick, I always yearn for sambal whatever! But I prefer fried bullseye (more oily, I know but who can resist the crispy edges?) as I HATE peeling eggshells! :D

    After being on vacation for almost 2 months, it's nice to visit blogs again and see what people are cooking. :)

  25. Jos, this is one of my favourites too! Normally, I just 'da pao' from the Malay food stalls with nasi lemak & sambal sotong. haha... Thanks for the recipe.
    Enjoy your day. Hope to hear from you more often.
    cheers, kristy