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Sambal Belachan

Malaysians cannot do without this side dish

Sambal Belachan to us is a must have in every meal. This Penang Food Delight is synonymous to being a Penangnite, a Malay, a Baba and Nyonya or a Chinese.

The Nyonyas and Malays household must have a plate of it as Kerabu and Ulam is an everyday affair.

Ulam are fresh herbs or vegetables from the garden or market like Kacang Botol (Wing Beans), Pucuk Paku (Fiddlehead Fern), Petai and many others. Kerabu vegetables like Pineapple, Cucumber, Taugeh, and Mint.

Sambal Belachan goes very well with Nasi Lemak. Different variations of dishes are main dishes with fish, prawns or dried stuffs. Sambal Chicken is cooked with a little dash of Penang delight.

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Basic Sambal

Penang Sambal Belacha

It is important to make good sambal. There are two things to remember when making this delightful sambal. Roast the belachan just in time to add in the pounded chillies. This is so important. I cannot emphasize enough of this.

If you used cool roasted belachan, it will not taste good at all. The sambal breaks or makes the dish. A good sambal is a balance of mushiness, spiciness and sweetness.


  • 50 gms of fresh chillies.
  • 25 gms belachan
  • A pinch of Salt and sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Lime juice
  • Roast or toast or fry the belachan till dry.
  • Add to the finely pounded chillies.
  • Add a little sugar and fresh lime juice.
  • Using pestle
  • Pound the chillies first, make sure you don't pound in a wet mortar.
  • Using blender
  • Blend your chillies first.
  • Make sure the blender is dry

Note: The whole idea is that your pounded sambal should not be watery.

Air Assam, a Sambal Belachan concoction

Sambal belachan can be used to turn into many other variations. One of the oldest concoction is the Air Assam. Air Assam which uses thick tamarind water to make a creamy, spicy sweet sourish sambal.

In homes or Malay food stalls, one gets to eat Air Assam with Deep Fried Fish especially Ikan Bawah Hitam or Pomfert.

My favorite is sting ray. Washed and cleaned stingray, cut to square bites sizes pieces. Grill or steamed then served with the sweet, sourish, spicy tamarind sauce or Air Assam.

Just let me tell you this. So once you have tasted our sambal, you will find eating without it becomes a bore. There is simply no taste in food without sambal. That is me, a Nyonya. ha ha.

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G Hotel

A bold, beautiful creation that pays homage to modern and contemporary design, G Hotel fuses cool modernity with stylish comfort. This 5 star class hotel in Penang - George Town boasts a privileged position for your next holiday in George Town, Malaysia: it is located in the city's most renowned avenue Gurney Drive, where the Gurney Plaza shopping complex and a variety of fine restaurants frame the promenade.

The Gurney Residences Hotel

The Gurney is a combination of sea-front resort and business and entertainment hotel, highly regarded as one of the most prominent deluxe hotels in the city. With a high standard of service, amenities & activities within the hotel, it offers all guests the highest convenience and experience.

Evergreen Laurel Hotel

Evergreen Laurel Hotel in Penang, is located on a oceanfront site overlooking Georgetown city, it presents guests with a stylish combination of business and leisure with modern lodging and featured leisure facilities. Evergreen is advantageously positioned along the well-known and picturesque Gurney Drive with sea front walkway; it is easily reachable to the city's business district, historic spots, shopping areas and entertainment nightclubs.