26 Sambal Serdadu

26-sambal-serdadoeSambal Serdadu means ‘soldiers sambal’. This homemade sambal appeals to me because it’s with trassi (Indonesian shrimp paste). I love shrimp paste. It smells a lot, but it doesn’t bother me. It just makes me think of my mother who was busy in the kitchen. If the shrimp paste hit the pan and the smell filled the house it was time to go downstairs. What is she making?

This sambal is made out of 10 chilies. My house hold consists of two adults and we use this sambal for a week but we are not huge sambal eaters ;-). Ready in 20 minutes.

Sambal Serdadu translated from Beb Vuyk Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 61.

Slightly more complicated are the following sambals. Besides the chili (lombok) which remains the main ingredient, onions, garlic and some seasonings can be added. These kinds of sambal are sautéed in a little oil and have a longer shelf life than the raw versions, which go bad in a day in the tropics when not kept in the refrigerator. The simplest sambal is the Sambal Serdadu (soldiers sambal) which opens this next list of sambals and serves as a basic recipe.


10 chopped chili peppers
200 grams chopped onions
2 teaspoons of terasi
1 tablespoon of oil

Rub chilies, onions and salt together in the mortar. Saute in the oil. Make terasi water by dissolving 4 teaspoons in hot water. Add this to the mix in the pan. Let the chilli simmer until the onions are tender and the broth is sufficiently thickened.


All the ingredients you obviously have at home. Some peppers, some onions, 2 teaspoons of trassi. So easy.  This sambal is so simple, yet so full of flavor. I think this is a great example of a Beb Vuyk recipe. She knows how to combine simple ingredients into dishes which are full of flavor.

26-sambal-serdadoe-snijdenI let all the seeds in this time. I like my sambal serdadu hot. You can also take the seeds (and the lighter part where they are attached to) out. Your sambal will be less spicy.26-sambal-serdadoe-cobekI rub little by little the onions and peppers together. It is too much to do all at once. No problem I empty it to do the next batch.26-sambal-serdadoe-fryI use my wok for my sambal serdadu. I like this pan. It’s hot quickly and large enough to stir fry it’s content. I sauté the peppers with onions briefly.

Now add the shrimp paste. My husband asks me from the living room what we’re eating tonight …. because the smell is intense ;-). “Delicious!”, he replies. Now just let it simmer and thicken. I leave my sambal to simmer for about 3 minutes.26-sambal-serdadoe-trassi

I have some spring onion left. That looks great with red peppers. So I mix it in too. Beb doesn’t tell whether this sambal can be preserved for a longer time. If you want to use this sambal serdadu later, take a super clean jam jar. For example, one who just comes out of the dishwasher. Pour in boiling hot water. It will disinfect again. Do not forget the lid too. Then when the sambal is still hot from the wok immediately transfer it into the jam jar. With an oven mitt close the jar. During the cooling process it will pull vaccuum so you can preserve your sambal longer ;-).


Beb Vuyk, best known for her Groot Indonesisch Kookboek (Great Indonesian Cook Book), was much more than a great cook. She belongs to the most important Dutch-Indonesian (Indo) writers and journalists of her time. Check this out.

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