Sambal Embe: Balinese Fried Shallots Sambal

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

Sambal embe is a special sambal recipe originating from the island of paradise, Bali. It is not as famous as sambal matah, but it is just as delicious. Embe, which means “fried shallots” in Balinese, features as one of the main ingredients of sambal embe.

Sambal embe is simple to prepare. Unlike other types of sambal, this one doesn’t require any pounding. Slice all the fresh ingredients, fry them together, and you are done! In terms of appearance and taste, it is also quite different compared to other sambals


The main ingredients consist of shallots, garlic, chillies and shrimp paste. I love the fragrance of these ingredients fried together. The pungent shrimp paste blends perfectly well with shallots and the rest of the ingredients. The mixture creates a distinctive flavour and aroma which reminds me very much of Balinese cooking. Sharp, pungent, and yet subtle. Such a perfect combination. 

Enjoy the sambal with rice and other accompaniments. As for me, I’m happy to have it just with rice and an omelette.

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Sambal Embe: Balinese Fried Shallots Sambal

Sambal Embe: Balinese Fried Shallots Sambal

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Sambals & Sauces
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Balinese
  • Diet: Halal


Sambal embe is a sharp and spicy Balinese sambal consisting of onions, garlic, shrimp paste, and of course, chillies. It’s relatively quick to prepare, very spicy, and absolutely delicious.


  • 10 shallots, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 10 bird’s eye chillies
  • 0.5 tsp shrimp paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 0.5 cup oil for frying


  1. Thinly slice the shallots, garlic and chillies.

    Thinly slice the shallots, garlic and chillies. 

  2. Fry the shallots over medium heat until half done (around 7 minutes).

    Fry the shallots

  3. Add the garlic, and fry for another 7 minutes until both the shallots and the garlic turn golden. Set aside.

    Add the garlic

  4. Using the same oil, fry the chillies for about 1 minute, then add the shrimp paste. Fry for another 5 minutes.

    fry the chillies

  5. Add salt and turn off the heat.
  6. Add the fried shallots and garlic.

    Add the fried shallots and garlic.

  7. Mixed all the ingredients together.
  8. Sambal embe is ready to serve.


  • Be extra careful when frying the shallots and garlic as they can burn easily.
  • The amount of chillies can always be adjusted according to your preference.

Keywords: Spicy, common ingredients, quick and easy, garlic, chilli

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