Sambal Oelek (Indonesian Red Chili Paste)

Chili pastes are probably my favorite condiment so I knew once I read about Sambal Oelek I had to try it.  I really enjoyed the Thai Red Curry Paste I made a while back as well as my usual go tos, Moroccan Harissa and Korean Gochujang. I was looking forward to trying out a new chili paste and thankfully this new one did not disappoint in the least! Sambal Oelek is a Southeast Asian chili paste that varies from country to country but generally consists of red chilies, shallots, ginger, garlic, lime and lemongrass.  The mixture is then ground up and can be added to soups, noodle dishes, meat marinades, etc. The paste was very spicy but had wonderful flavor.  I loved the combination of the sweet, spicy and citrusy flavors. I have a feeling this will go well with a lot of different dishes!

Sambal Oelek (Indonesian Red Chili Paste)
(makes about 2 cups)
Printable Version


  • 2 cups dried Thai chilies, boiled and chopped (or 1 1/2 cups fresh bird’s eye chilies, chopped)
  • 1 Serrano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 5 shallots, diced
  • 2 inch piece ginger, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 lime, zest
  • 2 tbsp lemongrass paste
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • salt to taste


  1. In a blender/food processor, combine the chilies, ginger, garlic, serrano, lime juice, lemongrass paste, water and shallots.
  2. Puree until about smooth.
  3. In a saute pan, saute the shrimp paste for 1 minute.
  4. In a bowl, combine the blended ingredients with the shrimp paste, palm sugar, lime zest, and peanut oil.

6 Thoughts on “Sambal Oelek (Indonesian Red Chili Paste)

  1. I love sambal, but never made at home. This looks awesome!

  2. Pingback: Sambal Oelek or Indonesian Red Chili Paste | DutchovenArt

  3. Kully on May 24, 2014 at 7:57 am said:

    Hi I just want to where I would be able to buy the Sambal Oelek paste from as I would like to use it for first time as it looks tasty good.

  4. I believe the above recipe with shrimp paste is for Sambal Belachan, not Sambal Olek Sambal Olek does not have shrimp paste. Grateful if someone would clarify. Thanks Alex.

    • The Partial Ingredients on June 8, 2014 at 10:11 pm said:

      Hi Alex,
      From what I have seen the recipe at it’s most basic is just chilies, vinegar and salt. The one I use is a bit more involved than that. I’ve seen lots of variations that list shrimp paste as an ingredient of Sambal Oelek. I decided to use it in this recipe because of the shrimp paste’s salty/savory flavor. Thanks for the information!

  5. Amazing,I have been looking for this famous paste for ages since I have discovered it 15 years ago in the Netherlands.Thank you!

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