|Traditional sambal terasi served on a stone mortar|
Various recipes of sambals usually are served as hot and spicy condiments for dishes such as lalab (raw vegetables), ikan bakar (grilled fish), ikan goreng (fried fish), ayam goreng (fried chicken), ayam penyet (smashed chicken), iga penyet (ribs) and various soto soup.
Traditional sambals are freshly made using traditional tools, such as a stone pestle and mortar. Sambal can be served raw or cooked. The chili pepper, garlic, shallot and tomato are often freshly ground using a mortar, while the terasi or belacan (shrimp paste) is fried or burned first to kill its pungent smell as well as to release its aroma. Sambal might be prepared in bulk, as it can be easily stored in a well-sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for a week to be served with meals as a condiment. However, some households and restaurants insist on making freshly-prepared sambal just a few moments prior to consuming in order to ensure its freshness and flavor; this is known as sambal dadak (lit. "impromptu sambal" or "freshly made sambal"). Nevertheless, in most warung and restaurants, most sambal is prepared daily in bulk and offered as a hot and spicy condiment.
Today some brands of prepared, prepacked, instant, or ready-to-use sambal are available in warung, traditional markets, supermarkets and convenience stores. Most are bottled sambal, with a few brands available in plastic or aluminum sachet packaging. Compared to traditional sambal, bottled instant sambals often have a finer texture, more homogenous content, and thicker consistency, like tomato ketchup, due to the machine-driven manufacturing process. Traditionally made sambals ground in a pestle and mortar usually have a coarse texture and consistency.
The most common kinds of peppers used in sambal are:
* Adyuma, also known as habanero: a very spicy, yellow, and block-shaped pepper.
|Fresh chilis are the main ingredient for a sambal|
* Madame Jeanette: a yellow–light green, elongated, irregularly-shaped pepper.
* Bird's eye chili, also known as cabe rawit in Javanese: a very spicy, green–red, elongated pepper approximately 10 millimetres (0.39 in) wide and 50 millimetres (2.0 in) long.
* Chili peppers known as lombok in Javanese: a mild, green–red, elongated pepper. Green chili peppers are milder than red ones.
* Cabe taliwang: a pepper spicier than the Bird's eye chili, similar in spiciness to the naga jolokia, its name is supposedly the origin from which Lombok Island, or "the Island of the Chili", derives its name.
Due to the increasing popularity of Asian food within the United States, sambal can be found in many larger grocery stores in the ethnic foods section.