Spicy Sambal Goreng: Creating Flavors of Lembeh at Home

Spice in Indonesian and Manadonese Cuisine

Indonesia is well known for its spicy cuisine and the people of North Sulawesi boast some of the liveliest dishes across the archipelago. That doesn’t mean that every dish is packed with fiery flavors though, in fact, quite the opposite. Many of the region’s best known dishes offer a fragrant, and often delicate, mix of herbs and spices without heat. Classic Manadonese ingredients include shallots, garlic, ginger, turmeric, coconut, candlenut, star anise, cloves, and of course, chili. The chili within the dish is utilised for its fruity flavor and not only its heat; but what really packs a punch in Manadonese cuisine is the accompanying ‘sambal goreng’ – an Indonesian traditional chili sauce.

Sambal ingredients
Lembeh Resort uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients wherever possible

Indonesian ‘Sambal’

There are countless different variations of sambal in Indonesia from those which use fresh herbs and spices to those which incorporate more robust flavors such as smoked fish. One of the most traditional ‘sambals’ in Indonesia is ‘Sambal Goreng’ and this is a firm favorite at Lembeh Resort. ‘Goreng’ refers to the preparation method of combining the ingredients in a large, wok style pan with coconut oil and cooking them down until they are reduced enough to produce a rich, thick chutney-like sauce.

Sambal Goreng
'Goreng' refers to frying and reducing the ingredients to a thick chutney-like consistency

Lembeh Resort’s Sambal Goreng

Our sambal goreng is always a big hit with guests who like to add a little extra heat and traditional flavor to their dishes – and it’s easy to make at home. If you’d like to recreate the flavors of Lembeh, this is our chef’s favorite recipe.

*Because this sambal does not contain preservatives, once prepared it is best enjoyed on the same day.

Lembeh Resort’s Sambal Goreng Recipe

  • 20g tomatoes
  • 10g shallots
  • 5g garlic
  • 15g curly red chili peppers (or other spicy red chili)
  • 2cm fresh ginger
  • 2 pieces candlenut
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 tablespoon sugar
  • 10ml coconut oil
Sambal recipe
Once the spices are combined they will form a thick paste
  • Put the red chili peppers, garlic, ginger and candlenut in a blender and blend to a smooth paste or, for a more traditional technique (although more work), use a pestle and mortar to crush and blend the ingredients until you achieve a smooth paste.
  • Slice the tomato and shallot thinly and place to one side.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a wok or large fry pan and gently fry the shallot over a medium heat, until soft.
  • Add the blended spice paste to the pan and cook for another 15 minutes (note that the chili peppers will release some ‘heat’ during the cooking process)
  • Add the sliced tomato and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add sugar and salt and stir over medium heat for a further 2 minutes.
  • Allow your ‘Sambal Goreng’ to cool and serve in a condiment bowl with your favorite dishes.
Coconut oil sambal
Lembeh Resort's sambal incorporates locally produced coconut oil for a smoother flavor

The ratio of tomatoes to chili peppers is what determines the heat of the blend. For a milder flavor incorporate more tomatoes and be prepared to reduce for longer due to the the increased water content of tomatoes to chili peppers.

Sambal goreng is a wonderful accompaniment to fish, meat or vegetarian dishes and may also be stirred into soups and pasta sauces to add extra heat.

Take a photo and share your creation with us! Our chefs would love to see Lembeh Resort’s sambal being recreated around the world!

Sambal Goreng
Serve your sambal in a condiment bowl - with a lot of love!

Dive and Stay at Lembeh Resort

Are you ready to dive into Lembeh? Stay at Lembeh Resort and enjoy the wonders of the Strait in comfortable accommodation with a touch of luxury. Our secluded location on Lembeh Island, combined with our exclusive service and exquisite dining make Lembeh Resort a wonderful home away from home in North Sulawesi.

Our professional dive guides are marine biology and trained underwater photography (with PADI or SSI certified), and we are the only dive resort in Lembeh with on-site marine biologists, photo pro and Backscatter Authorized Photo Center.

Explore Lembeh Resort rates and secure your extraordinary dive adventure today! For more information or to make a reservation contact us at: reservations@LembehResort.com

Sunset at Lembeh Resort