Sambal Teri (Tapanuli)

Do you know Ikan Teri? Those super salty, dried and crunchy anchovies? I buy ikan teri dried at my local Asian store.

I think ikan teri is delicious. We eat it as a condiment with Indonesian food. It adds loads of saltiness and umami flavors. I am very curious about the sambal teri in Beb Vuy’s book. Ikan teri is the signature ingredient in this chili salsa. Let’s get started!

Sambal Teri (Tapanoeli) # 32 from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page


10 chopped chili peppers
5 tablespoons of chopped onions
1 stalk of sereh
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
50 grams of ikan teri
6 tablespoons of oil

Rub the chili peppers and the chopped onions and add tomato paste. Sauté this mixture in 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry the teri in 4 tablespoons of oil until they turn yellow. Mix the teri with the sauteed herbs and serve. No salt is added to this dish because the teri itself is already salty.

I opt for spring onions instead of regular ones; easier to rub in the cobek (mortar) and the green onions look pretty in the red chili sauce.

For my sambal today, I half the amount of ingrediënts: more than enough for two people. Sambal is easy to freeze though. Leftovers can be easily frozen.

I rub chopped onions and chilies in the mortar. I like to keep this sambal a bit rough because the ikan teri are big too. But I make sure all the chilie pieces and onions are crushed well to let all the lovely juices out.

The lemongrass (sereh) I cut into 4 pieces and hit them with something heavy. This opens up the stalk to let out its citrus flavor.

I add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and stir-fry my well-rubbed mixture together with the tomato paste and lemongrass parts.

I fry my ikan teri briefly. It is unclear in Beb’s recipe whether she means fresh anchovies or the already dried version that I buy at an Asian store. I use dried anchovies. But I think with canned anchovies it’s delicious too.

I fry in a bit of oil my dried teri for two minutes. It makes the tiny fish a bit easier to handle in the sambal. I let the fish drain their excess oil off.

Then I mix the ikan teri with the salsa.

I like this robust look 😉 with all the stalks and fish popping out.

The flavors are not complex, but the ikan teri really gives it a kick. The salt in the anchovies is non-dominant; there are enough other ingredients to bring this salsa into balance.

Sambal Ikan - Tapanuli chili salsa

I fill up a super clean jar with my sambal teri and I add the pieces of lemongrass too. We finished a pot like this in about a week. Enak!

Want to see more chili salsa recipes? Check this link out!

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