How to make Sambal Goreng, a spicy stir-fry with tofu and tempeh.
Sambal Goreng, literally translated as Fried Chilli Paste, is a popular Malay dish consisting of stir-fried tofu, tempe and long beans in a fragrant, spicy sauce. It’s a staple Malay dish, and is one of my all-time favourite. I’m a rare one though; for most, this is just a “filler” dish. Which is a damn shame because its only crime is being a fully vegetable dish competing against meat hotshots like Rendang and Ayam Masak Merah on the dinner table.
But also because most people hadn’t had my Mom’s Sambal Goreng. She only makes it once a year, during Hari Raya. And she toils – oh boy how my Mom toils.
It’s also why I put off making this dish for a while. It’s a hell lot of effort. But I’m determined, so I ~experimented~ and kept trying offshoots of my Mom’s recipe until I came to this simplified, but loses none of the bomb flavours. Sure is a lot nicer than a lot of the sambal gorengs you order off hawker centres. Mom-approved too!
Frying the Tofu and Tempe
While Sambal Goreng is one of the few vegetable dishes in Malay cuisine, it is by no means healthy. Sambal Goreng is delicious because it’s crucial to deep fry the tempe and tofu beforehand, to get that crispy yet chewy finish. So yes, lots of oil in this dish.
You can skip the frying process and go straight to stir-frying the tofu and tempe, but take care to not stir too much – the tempe and tofu will break easily.
Vegan Sambal Goreng
Since I don’t use belachan in this recipe, you can easily turn this vegan. Just omit the shrimps. Once in a while I would go vegan, and when I crave for a hearty Malay dish, this is my go-to.
Back when I was still studying, my friend/team mate is a full-fledged vegetarian. Whenever she would come around my house for one of our group project sessions, my mom would always make this. This was her absolute favourite dish ever!
How to Level Up this Sambal Goreng?
This Sambal Goreng is delicious. HOWEVER, my Mom’s version is still better. My Mom’s recipe includes tamarind, belachan, a splash of coconut cream and beef chunks in the mix. She also deep fries every single component. Every. Single. Component. It’s not simply the additional ingredients, it’s the amount of extra work. Well. If you’re planning to impress, that’s what you can do too!
To this recipe, simply add:
- 1 tbsp Belachan or fermented dried shrimp paste
- 1/2 tsp Tamarind paste
- 2-3 tbsps Coconut Cream
Blend the belachan in with the base paste, and at the final salt and sugar seasoning stage, stir in the tamarind paste and the coconut cream.
More recipes like this:
If you love this classic Malay dish, you will love these too:
- Beef Rendang
- Easy cheat Chicken Rendang
- Sayur Lodeh
- Ayam Masak Merah | Spicy Tomato Braised Chicken
- Nasi Minyak
Authentic Sambal Goreng Recipe | spicy tofu tempe stir-fryCourse: Uncategorized
150g or 1 block of Firm Tofu
70g Long Beans or French Beans
8-9 Shrimps (remove for vegan version)
2 tbsps Dried Chilli Paste
3-4 Kaffir Lime Leaves (optional)
1 Red Chilli, sliced
1 tsp Salt, or to taste
1 tsp Sugar, or to taste
- Blended Base Paste:
4-5 Shallots or 1 medium Onion
2-3 cloves of Garlic
1/2 inch Ginger
1/2 inch Galangal
2 Lemongrass, inner white core
1/4 cup Water for easier blending
- Blend together base paste. Add water to get an easier and finer blend.
- Deep fry tofu and tempe until golden brown. Take out and keep to one side.
- In the same pan, remove some oil until about 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil is left. Add the blended base paste, dried chilli paste, and torn kaffir lime leaves. Stir to combine.
- Saute the base paste on low heat until oil splits, or until the paste turns a darker colour.
- Add green beans and let it simmer.
- Add shrimps and red chilli slices next.
- Once shrimps turn pink, toss back in the fried tofu and tempe.
- Season with salt and sugar, and toss through.