My sister called me the other day and said that she was stopping by for she had picked some goodies out of her garden for me. Every year, she grows the most gorgeous tomatoes that I have ever seen, so naturally that is what I expected to get. Well, she surprised me instead with a bag of mixed green chili peppers. In the bag there were jalapeños, a couple small anaheims and a bunch little serrano peppers that were wickedly hot. Fortunately, she also brought me a couple of big fat juicy tomatoes. Within minutes, I knew what I was going to make with those peppers… Sambal!
One of my most favorite condiments in the world is sambal oelek. It’s a red chili pepper paste that sets my mouth on fire. My grandmother used to make her own sambal oelek from scratch by using a mortar called a cobek and an unusually shaped pestle called an ulek-ulek. Sometimes she would add some dried shrimp paste (trassi) or garlic to the mixture for extra flavor. Ask any member of my family and they would tell you that my grandmother’s culinary skills were legendary. I could only hope to be a cook half as good as she was.
My Grandmother’s cobek and ulek-ulek. Without a doubt one of my most treasured possessions.
My green chili sambal is prepared similarly to the traditional sambal oelek. It just tastes milder than the usual red sambal oelek that you would find in a grocery store. So what are we waiting for? Let’s make some green chili sambal!
- 1 pound green chilies (stemmed and seeded)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbls. white vinegar
Let’s begin by stemming and seeding your chilies. While you are working with the chilies it is a really good idea to not touch your face or wipe your eyes. Let me tell you from experience… You will cry. And when you are done prepping the chilies, wash your hands well with soap and water. Place the chilies in a food processor (you can use the cobek and ulek-ulek if you want to but I find the food processor is so much faster). Process until chopped and be careful not to over chop or puree your mixture.
Place the chili mixture in a saucepan and add all the ingredients except the vinegar. Cook over medium heat until reduced and until the chilies are softened. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Let cool. Place in a clean jar with a lid. Keeps in the refrigerator for about 2 – 3 weeks. Makes two cups. Enjoy! Tessa
Note: To make a traditional sambal oelek, just use red chilies instead of the green. In this version, I simply used the chilies that I had on hand.