Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mom's Sambal Belacan Terung Asam (Spicy Shrimp Paste Condiment)

This is my Mom's version of sambal belacan in true Nyonya perfection! Mom was such a phenomenal woman, who cooked amazing food for us.

Ingredients: fresh red chilies, bird's eye chilies (for that added 'kick'), Asian shrimp paste (belacan) and terung assam (yellow round fruit) - pounded to a paste in a traditional stone mortar and pestle. Add in some sugar (optional) and a squeeze of calamansi/lime/lemon juice, you'll have your perfect spicy sambal belacan ready to whet your appetite anytime.

Sambal belacan for Malaysians and many South-east Asians needs no introduction at all. It originates from the Malay culture but appeals to the mouth-watering senses of all races in Malaysia.

It's one of the most popular 'must have' condiments during meals as it goes oh! so well! with rice and the various yummylicious Malaysian/Asian dishes.

If you're wondering what terung asam is, the picture below shows you what it is.

Terung asam is a tiny, round and hairy kampung (village) fruit like the size of a calamansi lime. It turns to a pretty bright yellow once ready to be plucked off the plant. Literally translated, terung asam means sour aubergine. However, it has no relation to aubergine. Can be eaten raw or added into asam pedas (spicy/sour fish dish).

Terung asam can be found sold in small quantities by Malay vegetable/herb traders in markets as it is not a crop that is widely cultivated. In fact, many city dwellers may not even heard or seen terung asam before. I have 5 plants growing well in my backyard. Thanks to my sis who gave me the first original plant (below pic). I sprouted the seeds from one of the fruits from this original plant (which has since died by the way) and now I can't wait for the fruits to grow on my 2nd generation plants! Yippees!!!

Fried tempeh with sambal belacan terung asam. Goes well with fried chicken/fish etc. Yummzzzz!

Mom's sambal belacan terung asam

Pound to a paste:
3-5 fresh large red chilies (remove seeds)
3-5 bird's eye chilies
1 tbsp Asian shrimp paste (belacan), lightly fry it in an oiled frying pan for 2-3 mins
4-5 terung asam (peel off the hairy skin)

Add to the paste:
Half to 1 tsp sugar (more or less according to preference)
Some juice of calamansi/lime/lemon (more or less according to sour preference)
Salt (only if preferred after 1st tasting as belacan is already salty)

Happy pounding!

petite nyonya


  1. I new to terung asam, next time I must ask the Malay stall whether they sell this or not . This is amazing good.

  2. I don't think I ever see this type of terung asam before.

  3. It looks amazing. I don't know if I can get all the ingredients (I have found where I can get birds eye chillis. That's good!

  4. You are making me droool...! Could not wait for my plant to bear these wonderful fruits too!

  5. Terung asam? Never heard before, hehe...

  6. Sedap! I can eat this with just about anything! Bookmarked!

  7. I've never heard of terung assam either...but I'm always up for anything spicy!

  8. Hi Nyonya, Holy Smoke! I have not seen, heard this nor eaten it I think 26 years!
    I really love this too. My mom used to make it a long time ago.
    My wife not familiar with this.....she's not Nyonya even though has learned to cook Nyonya food...that was to sangkut me, ha ha.

    Looking at your pics really macham kena torture, so sedap best.
    I think tiga pinggan nasi da guarantee polished off, ha ha.

    Nyonya, you one real classic cook! Incidentally how many belts has your hubby changed past 10 years? Ha ha ha.
    You have a pleasant day and keep a song in your heart.
    Best regards, Lee.

    ps, always enjoy your visit to my humble pondok.
    Oh ya, I will be putting out a new story later.
    Drop by if senang.

  9. wow.. my eyes just set on the sambal and I just love spicy food!

  10. Hi Nyonya, just dropped by say hello.
    You know, one of the first things my wife packed into our boxes prior migrating to Canada was her granite pounder, similar to yours.
    Her's a very old one handed down from her grandmother.

    She is not a Nyonya, but learned to cook Nyonya food from my aunties, her Nyonya friends...to sangkut me, ha ha. Otherwise I'd remain a bachelor longer, make many SYTs happy, ha ha.
    Have a nice day, Nyonya. Lee.

  11. Very nice, thanks for the information.

  12. What a great paste to spice up dinner. Delicious!
    *kisses* HH

  13. Oh my, I have never seen or heard about terung asam. Your recipe today is really mouth-watering!

  14. terung asam?this is my 1st time dengar nama terung asam.May be ada nama lain selain dari nama terung asam?

  15. hi everyone, thank you for your comments and glad to impart a little knowledge of this wonderful fruit to all of you.

    p/s cik manggis, i do not know if it has nama lain. all i know is it's called terung asam. very popular in melaka and sedap if masak in asam pedas.


  17. Is this similar to kamquat? I love sambal and this will be something to keep in the fridge always. Talking about it makes me salivate. LOL!

  18. The terung assam is an eye-opener, never seen this before!

  19. I am very intrigued. I have never heard of terung asam or came across of it before. I wish I can grow them as I like sour food very much.

  20. Aiyo..my air liur meleleh alreadi..my plant is starting to fruit again!

  21. It's my first time learning about terung assam. I am from Melaka too and my grandma is a Nyonya. Probably I should check out the wet market in Peringgit Jaya to find out if terung assam is available. Thanks for introducing this to us. And your sambal nampak enak sekali!

  22. Tow Kay Neo aka TKNJune 6, 2011 at 6:24 PM


    I have been looking for Terung Dayak since my sister told me about it. One of my granduncles married a Dayak princess from Indonesia long time ago and brought her back to Singapore and she brought Terung Dayak and cooked for the family. I was not born yet but my sister had the chance to enjoy it and till today she remembers it well. I wondered where I can find Terung Dayak in Singapore, anyone knows or boleh tunjuk mana satu pasar ada juah terung dayak. Kum Siah la...!

  23. hi Quay Po Cooks, the size of this is like limau kasturi, but in bright yellow color and coated with fine hair on the skin.

    hi JC, yes u can try peringgit market or the market at melaka sentral.

    Tow Kay Neo, i lived in spore for 10 yrs but never come across it in the markets there. spore too modern la, such 'village treasures' may not be in existence anymore. if you travel to melaka, u can try go to the main market behind melaka sentral. there are malay traders who sell many types of village produce there.

  24. hi,petite nyonya,
    TErong Asam is everywhere in Kuching,Sarawak.
    Xiao Feng

  25. Hi again,petite nyonya,
    Terong Asam is yery popular in Kuching.We cook fish soup with it.You can find terong asam in baskets selling in sunday markets and other markets as well.We are quite addicted to its sour taste and its sour taste goes well with serai and chilli.

  26. hi Xiao Feng, yes i heard that in some parts of sarawak it is also called terung dayak? i would love to taste your fish soup with this terung asam. must be delicious!!

  27. Hi,petite nyonya,
    Please check Mysarawak travelogue(Ikan asam pedas).Actually terong asam takes about 1/2 hour to cook until soft and the skin should be discarded after the soup is ready.This blogger's recipe is not my recipe.
    Try it out and you may come out with you own recipe.
    A good cook is a curious cook -Michael Smith of 'chef at home',AFC

  28. Hi Anonymous, thanks for the tip. I love asam pedas and we use terung asam in our Melaka nyonya style of asam pedas too. I look fwd to try the Sarawak version. I will be in Kuching in early Dec so I look fwd to try the food there.

  29. Hi Petite Nyonya and others,

    There is a pasar dayak in JB selling all kinds of Sarawak jungle produce.Some taxi drivers know the way.
    Happy marketing.
    Xiao Feng

  30. Hi,nyonya
    Let me know ur schedule in kuching next month.I am not in tourism industry but I might be able to show you the way to an Iban Cafe.
    Xiao Feng

  31. Hi Xiao Feng, thank you very much for yr offer. we are actually going in a big grp of 16 and my sister has arranged for a tour alrdy. however, is sarawak cultural village worth going? entrance fee seems very expensive.

  32. ya,definitely.Sunday market is a must go place if you want to find terong assam,midin,paku,paku palok.Most tourists get confused with these three edible ferns because they all look like fiddleheads.Ask the vendors if you are not sure.Check your email please.I left my handphone no there in case you people want to visit an iban cafe.
    Enjoy your trip to Kuching.There is a cooking class for tourists along carpenter street.Will email you the details.