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Sambal Asparagus Recipe


Sambal Asparagus Recipe

12 oz. asparagus
4 oz. scallops or medium-size shrimps
1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons sambal paste (if you like spicy, use 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce or to taste
1 teaspoon belacan (breaks into small bits)
2 tablespoons oil


Rinse the asparagus with water. Chop off 1 inch to 1.5 inches off the stems (depending on the toughness of the stems) and slice the stems into half. Cut the rest of the asparagus into 2-inch lengths. Set aside.

Heat up the wok with oil. Add the sambal (recipe below) and belacan. Stir well until you start smelling the pungent aroma of belacan. Add in scallops/shrimps and do a quick stir and then follow by the asparagus. Add fish sauce, sugar, and continue to stir fry until asparagus is cooked through (don’t overcook it). Dish out and serve hot.

Sambal (Chili Paste) Recipe:

20 dried chilies (seeded and soaked to soften)
10 fresh red chilies (seeded and sliced)
8 shallots (peeled and chopped)
4 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
6 tablespoons cooking oil


Use a mortar and pestle to pound the sambal ingredients or use a mini food processor to blend well. Heat up a wok with oil. As soon as the oil is heated, transfer the sambal paste into the wok and stir-fry continuously for a few minutes or until you smell the heat from the sambal or the oil separates from the sambal. Dish out and set aside. Refrigerated for future use.

Cook’s Note:

Traditionally, sambal is prepared fresh–or bought ready made from the wet market in Malaysia. It’s then used immediately to cook the dish. In the US, I always make my sambal into a chili paste so I can keep it in the refrigerator and use it on the go. I also use more dried chilies to make the sambal paste lasts longer in the refrigerator. The fresh chilies give a nice red color as dried red chilies look duller in color. I will show you the traditional way of making sambal from scratch and the proper method of making it soon!

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28 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

      • Morganz

        That’s the price of loving something…the good with the bad. However, whenever cook something heavy like, sambal, ikan bakar etc, I’ll light a couple of incense/joss sticks (I use lavender or rose) at least one or two in the kitchen and a couple more in the adjacent dining and living rooms, it does help. : )

  1. That looks so delicious bee. I had shrimp and asparagus sambal before but i love your scallop variation. I’m a sucker for scallops. Never tried to make it myself though. Thanks for sharing your recipe! :-)

  2. This is absolutely delicious and it’s true that sambal is the essence of any Malaysian dish. Hehe and I too probably can polish off 2 servings of rice with this. Yum!

  3. rachel ong

    hello bee, first, i have to say, beautiful pics and website. love it. must read everyday :)
    my question is if we make the sambal paste, do we need to add balacan also? if u blend the chillies, u add water or oil? the color is really nice( red). any trick to do this?
    thank you

    • Thanks Rachel. When you blend the chilies, there is no need to add water because fresh chilies has water, and so do garlic and shallots. I didn’t add belacan into the sambal chili paste because I prefer to add it separately during the cooking process to suit each individual recipe as some recipes call for more belacan while others a little bit. The color is from the fresh red chilies.

  4. rachel ong

    hi, is me again. a great question for u, i know u travel a lot plus u always go back to penang a lot.. must know lots of great restaurant, my mom is having her 60’s birthday, any suggestions for the good restaurant? buffet style? or vegetarian restaurant? thank you so much:)

  5. Valerie

    Hi Bee,

    Your sambal asparagus recipe looks good. I am expecting now and dislike veggie. Maybe I can try this since I like spicy food. Can I use pre-made sambal?


  6. Oooh! This looks so good! Love sambal and I think my bottle in the fridge still has a good amount – I usually buy ready made sambal but now that I have your recipe I can try making my own :)

    • Tiga – I think they are all so frozen dead looking…well at least in Penang, I saw some frozen ones…not too appetizing. Costco’s scallops are great, fresh, big, and succulent. :)

  7. NYMY

    I am not a big fan of asparagus. But I am definitely a fan for this, yet again, wonderful recipe from you. Sambal asparagus! Who would have think of that?

  8. Tim Tio

    Hi Bee

    Just to say Hi and thank you for the wonderful recipes especially those that are related to the wonderful Island of Penang.

    Warmest regards
    Good Luck
    April 2 2011

  9. suealan

    I found ready made prawn paste for prawn mee, but have been using it to fry Okra, Yam leave, Kangkoong, Asparagus, french and long beans. All you need to do is adding a little chilli or fish/soya sauce if you like it hotter and saltier. You can also used the paste to marinade prawns for 10 minutes before BBQ. Very convenient and save time.

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