Stupid-Easy Recipe for Sambal Oelek (Chili Paste) (#1 Top-Rated)


Foundationally every sambal starts with good chilis, a bit of garlic and white vinegar, but there are as many ways to make chili paste as there are varieties of chilis. Our version incorporates a bit more flavor with the addition of fresh lemongrass and lime zest – and, once you try it, it’s sure to become a staple of your kitchen. Add a bit into a stir fry, mix into scrambled eggs, or simply spoon onto meats and roasted vegetables for a tangy heat kick.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with this easy-to-make recipe for Sambal Oelek (Chili Paste).

1. Info for Sambal Oelek (Chili Paste)

  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 15 min
  • Servings: 25
  • Calories: 3.54 kcal

2. Ingredients for Sambal Oelek (Chili Paste)

  • 20 fresh red Thai chilis (approx 5” in length) (133 g)
  • 3 cloves garlic, skinned (18 g)
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • 2 oz white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • lime zest (2½” wide x 1 ½” long strips)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

3. Directions:

  1. Prep the chilis. Trim off the head/stem of the chilis and half the chilis lengthwise. Using the back of your knife, scrape the seeds and veins from each chili, and discard the innards. (No need to get every seed and vein out – just most of them so that the heat of the final paste is spicy, but not so hot you lose the flavor.)
  2. Prep the lemongrass. Trim 2” off the hard end of the stalk and peel away the tough outer leaves. Trim off the top end of what remains so that you’re left with a tender, pale yellow stalk that’s about 4”-5” in length. Slice the lemongrass bulb in quarters.
  3. Add the prepared chilis, garlic cloves, lemongrass, and all remaining ingredients into your KitchenAid® K400 blender. Starting on speed 1, blend for 20 seconds. Then, increase the speed to 2, then 3, then 4, blending for 20 seconds at each speed increment. Stop the blender, scrape down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula, then blend on speed 5 for 45-60 seconds, or until no thick pieces of chili skins remain, and paste is thickened. (You may have to scrape down the sides of the blender one more time during the final blend – and, be sure to scrape out the lid, too.)
  4. Store the finished chili paste in an airtight container.
  5. CHEF’S NOTE: The more seeds and veins you leave in the chilis, the hotter this paste will be.
  6. There are hundreds of varieties of chilis. This recipe calls for red Thai chilis that are roughly 5” in length and ½” in diameter. If the chilis you’re using are different in size than what is described, then go by specific weight of the chilis so you end up with a comparable consistency and flavor.

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