Sambal Terasi: Sambal with Roasted Shrimp Paste

One of Indonesia’s favourite sambals, featuring chilies and roasted shrimp paste — it packs a punch! Known as sambal belachan in Malay.

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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.

This sambal is really easy to make and goes well with almost everything. All the ingredients except the fermented shrimp paste are fresh. The amount of chilli can always be adjusted depending on how spicy you want it to be.

You’ll almost always find sambal terasi in Indonesian restaurants just about anywhere in the world. It’s also a favourite in Malay cuisine, where it is called “sambal belachan”. The key to a good sambal terasi is to balance the shrimp paste and the chili flavour — the fermented shrimp paste flavour can be overpowering, which should be avoided.

Sambal Terasi process
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Sambal Terasi: Sambal with Roasted Shrimp Paste

Sambal Terasi: Sambal with Roasted Shrimp Paste

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Sambals & Sauces
  • Method: Pounding
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Halal


Sambal terasi is one of Indonesia’s favourite sambals. Besides chillies, it features roasted shrimp paste as the main ingredient, giving it an extra kick. Known as sambal belachan in Malay.


  • 5 bird’s eye chillies
  • 3 red chillies 
  • 1 shallot
  • ½ tsp roasted shrimp paste
  • 1 small lime
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of brown sugar

    Sambal terasi ingredients
    Sambal terasi ingredients


  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound all the ingredients except the lime, until it forms a coarse paste. Adjust the seasoning.
  2. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice all over. Use the remaining ½ lime as garnish.


  • You can also use food processor instead of mortar and pestle, but please make sure not to overdo it. Otherwise, the paste will become too smooth and the sambal will be less enjoyable.
  • Bird’s eye chilies are much spicier than big red chilies. If you can’t handle spicy food, you might try using only the big red chilies sparingly. 

Keywords: Sides, Condiments, Spicy

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