What Is Sambal Oelek?

Hot sauce enthusiasts tend to cycle through their obsessions like brief yet meaningful romances. In the past, they’ve “put Sriracha on their Sriracha,” and swarmed McDonald’s to hoard Rick & Morty’s-inspired Szechuan chili sauce. The next spicy con…

Hot sauce enthusiasts tend to cycle through their obsessions like brief yet meaningful romances. In the past, they’ve “put Sriracha on their Sriracha,” and swarmed McDonald’s to hoard Rick & Morty’s-inspired Szechuan chili sauce. The next spicy condiment that may get the Sriracha treatment is one that’s not new to you if you’re familiar with Indonesian food: It’s sambal oelek.

What is Sambal?

Sambal is an aromatic condiment comprised of dry and fresh ground spices and herbs. Like chutney in India and salsa in Mexico, the world of sambals is vast. There are countless sambals from all over Indonesia, each tweaked to local ingredients, regional specialties, and individual preference

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A Sticky, Peanutty Tempeh to Win Weeknight Dinner

“The first time I watched the sky bleed tones of orange and red as the sun set over the sea in my father’s home town of Kupang, Timor,” Coconut & Sambal author Lara Lee writes, “it struck me as a moment of coming home—but to a place I had never bee…

“The first time I watched the sky bleed tones of orange and red as the sun set over the sea in my father’s home town of Kupang, Timor,” Coconut & Sambal author Lara Lee writes, “it struck me as a moment of coming home—but to a place I had never been before.”

Growing up in Sydney with an Australian mother and a Chinese-Indonesian father and grandmother instilled in Lee a sense of longing for home—wherever, whatever that may be—at a very young age. As an adult, she began cooking professionally, and that back-of-mind longing quickly evolved into a front-of-mind mission:

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