when baking, follow directions.. when cooking, go by your own taste.. ~ Laiko Bahrs
if there is anything the husband loves to have most in the morning, it has to be nasi lemak.. complete with the spicy sambal, hard-boiled or fried egg, crispy fried anchovies and peanuts, the works.. when the craving hits, he will sometimes skip the cold milk+cereal brekkie and head out for a plate of freshly cooked nasi lemak with a mug of piping hot teh tarik (pulled tea) on the way to the office..
when i prepare nasi lemak at home, i usually make the sambal a day ahead, for a better tasting sambal.. i don’t know how, but the flavors are more enhanced when the sambal has been left sitting in the fridge for a day or two.. it’s the same thing with curries and stews, where they all just taste better the next day..
preparing sambal does require patience, with the long cooking time and all.. also another reason why i like to prepare it at least a day ahead.. while it’s cooking on the stove, you can’t leave the sambal to let it cook by itself, that kinda thing.. constant stirring is needed to prevent it from getting burnt at the bottom of the pot, even when you use non-stick ones..
ingredient-wise, it’s ultimately up to the cook, which herbs and spices should go in.. as long as the main ingredients are all there, you can play around with the recipe if you wish, really.. plenty of onions and shallots, chilli paste, and belacan (dried shrimp paste) and you’re set.. you can choose to add or exclude garlic or ginger, or other wet and dry spices like lemongrass, turmeric, coriander powder, cinnamon, cloves, etc.. balance the flavors out with seasonings (salt, sugar AND a bit of tamarind pulp), and there you have it, homemade sambal ready to rock your palates~
oh, and the consistency of the sambal varies depending on the menu.. i like to make it really runny and somewhat thin to pair with nasi tomato (tomato rice) and pickled veg.. for nasi lemak, it can be either thick or a little on the runny side, but not to the point of being too watery though..
today’s recipe is a sambal dish with chicken and brinjal, which i prepared to go with nasi tomato (tomato rice).. you can add meat, seafood and veg into the sambal for variation too, if you wish.. made this way, it goes really, really well with piping hot white rice and other side dishes..