Food for Thought Friday: Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek

I’d seen it before, the mouth-watering little container of chili sauce — in Chinatown last year — but never had the distinct pleasure. Until recently.

It was a Sunday afternoon and we’d just had some amazing New Haven-style pizza at Modern Apizza on State Street. Up the road a few blocks, we wandered into the Hanmi Oriental Food & Gift Shop, and there it was: Sambal Oelek.

Sambal Oelek is a deliciously spicy chili paste made from coarsely ground red chilies and vinegar. Not for the faint-of-heart, or taste buds, this powerful concoction is addictive!

All I have to do is look at the container of Sambal Oelek in the refrigerator and I know what I am having for dinner!

“A sambal is a chili based sauce which is normally used as a condiment.” reports a Wikipedia entry. “Sambals are popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines and Sri Lanka, as well as in the Netherlands and in Suriname through Indonesian influence.”

I don’t often eat such exotic cuisines, and mostly prefer my Sambal Oelek on scrambled eggs or a nice vegetable omelet. But I’m curious now, and eager to try some new recipes! Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!

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