Belacan sambal is traditionally a condiment but can also be used as a ready-made sauce to stir through seafood or served on the side of fish curries. It can also be eaten with plain rice.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (60 votes)


  • 60 ml (¼ cup) peanut oil 
  • 2 onions, finely chopped 
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 2 tsp crushed ginger 
  • 3–4 red bird’s eye chillies (or to taste), finely chopped 
  • 1 tbsp belacan (shrimp paste) 
  • 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped 
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce 
  • 2 tsp soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp fish sauce 
  • 2 limes, juiced 
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste 
  • 2 tbsp pounded palm sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes about 1 cup

Heat the oil in a wok or deep frying pan until hot. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for 5–6 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.

Add the belacan and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in the tomato, until well combined.

Add the sauces and lime juice and stir until well combined, then add the tamarind paste and palm sugar. Stir to combine, then remove heat and allow to cool.


• Belacan sambal will keep refrigerated in an airtight jar for two weeks.