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Sambal Tumis Sotong (Squid Sambal)

Sambal Tumis Sotong (Squid Sambal)
Sambal Tumis Sotong (Squid Sambal) pictures (3 of 4)

A few weeks ago, I discovered a Malay food blog, Selera Malaysia. I love Malay food as much as I love my Penang hawker food (street food), Chinese, and Nyonya food. One of  the signature Malay recipes is sambal tumis or sauteed sambal, which is the building block for many mouthwatering and appetizing Malay and Nyonya dishes. Please welcome Selera Malaysia to Rasa Malaysia as he shares his sambal tumis sotong (squid sambal) recipe with us.

Being a food blogger and talking about Malaysian foods, I am glad when Rasa Malaysia offers me to write a post here. It’s a Sambal Tumis Sotong or squid sambal first suggested by her when she approach me to write on Rasa Malaysia as a guest writer.

For those who are familiar with Malaysian cuisine, there will be no further introduction needed on sambal but for those who aren’t, sambal is a chili based sauce, prepared mainly from mixed paste of dried chillies, shallots and garlic. It easy to cook but need a lot of practice to make a good sambal. The secret tips of making a delicious sambal is to sauté the chili paste until the paste separated from oil or in Malay until ‘pecah minyak’. People always been advised to sauté until fragrant, however this is just to general…

Sambal tumis sotong is simply delicious dish and easy to prepare. It can be served with boiled rice together with selections of Chinese Greens such as bok choy, kailan/gailan and others.

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25 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. yumm my mouth is already watering it is lunch time in San Francisco! It looks fiery with all the chili peppers. I am going to make it and reproduce the results on my blog, if that is okay with you :)
    One think i wanted to ask, how much oil did you use for this dish? Also shall I add the onion rings earlier even before the squid? The calamari cook in no time and the blog pic suggests the onion cooked for longer.

  2. Jake

    I don’t know what I did wrong, but when I made this it didn’t have that nice red color, instead it was nearly black. Is tamarind concentrate the same as the paste? The tamarind conc. I’m using is practically black; I’m sure that’s what gave the dish the black color. Any tips?

    • Vonny Groose

      I had the same problem with Jake, mine also wasn’t red and I also think it was because of the tamarind concentrate. I think a cup of water is too much, the tamarind taste is barely there. Either reduce the water or add more tamarind concentrate. I also think 1 tablespoon of sugar is too much, it made it too sweet. I had to adjust the tamarind and put a lot of salt to make it right. I also think the onion slices should be put in first after sambal tumis and the squids should be the last thing to put in. That’s just my five cents.

      • Fadhli Jaffar

        For us malays, we usually add the sugar just before we take the dish off the stove or flame. If you add the sugar in early, it will caramelise and darken the sambal slightly.

        Also, we would boil the dried chillies until the chillies soften up. This also brings out the bright red colour when you blend the chillies and other spices together.

        For the belachan or shrimp paste, it’s best to dry toast it in a pan until it’s crumbly,almost powder like. The smell will be overpowering but it will enhance the flavour and add a bit of “smokiness”.

        These small little things makes a distinction between a normal sambal and a really good sambal.

        On a personal preference, I would add one or two kaffir lime leaves for seafood sambal tumis. It adds a hint of citrus note and fragrance to the dish.

        The base sauce tastes great with lobsters,clams and other shellfish too.

        Happy cooking.


  3. Jake: Please use a medium heat, when frying/’tumis’ the chilli paste. This will help to prevent the paste from scorched/singed(might be the reason why yours turning black. If this not the case, please use small amount of tamarind(probably half of tablespoons and soak in a cup of warm water). Hope this will help.

    J2Kfm: Yes, this is a killer if adding up ‘Petai’ or Sator. But not many people like the smell.


  4. Amelia Chee

    Hi AJ,

    I cooked this last night for dinner. It’s delish! The colour of the gravy is similar to the one of cincaluk not as red as yours and I added some starch solution to thicken the consistency. I added shrimp, green and red pepper. The gravy is spicy enough for me but will add more dried chillies to make it spicer to suit my daughter’s taste bud, the tamarind juice makes it very appetizing. Looking at the recipe, I thought I should double the quantity of the blended ingredients and keep the rest in the fridge for next use. I’m glad I did! Thank you for sharing!

  5. John

    I usually add lemon grass( serai ) ( abit to grind for the paste ) and 2 stalks chopped and added with the sambal. Tastes and smells awesome

  6. carui

    One tablespoon sugar is far too much. Tamarind puree Ayam brand is not bad. Very convenient. Yes, tamarind can darken the sauce but you can use
    2 fresh red chillies to lift up the reddish colour. We love tumis any time but just have to watch the sugar, just a touch is enough. I find
    the food is getting sweeter and sweeter over the years in Singapore and
    Malaysia. Also, the belachan. We dont toast anymore. When you live overseas, the smell of toasted belachan lingers on for days in the home. You can get away without toasting. In our home, every Nonya meal is a welcomed delight.

  7. Natasya Sallahuddin

    Ive tried the recipe!! Simple but very delicious! Add more belacan it will be superb, thank you for the recipe!!

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