Receive our magazine's best posts every week.


Southeast Asian Kitchen: Sambal Sotong

Southeast Asian Kitchen is a Tablecrafter series on cooking dishes inspired by the different regional cuisines in Southeast Asia.

A prime example of Javanese influenced food, sambal can be found on the shores of several neighboring countries. Originating from Indonesia, the dish has traveled to many countries to represent the distinct flavors of the cuisine. A hot sauce typically made from ground chili peppers and a medly of aromatics, the sambal becomes an intensely flavored thick paste. Cooking with this paste lends flavors that lean towards a complex spice profile with a heady depth. Numerous variations have been made on this dish to as many as 300 types, differing in all facets of the fish. Our recipe features tender squid quickly cooked in the sauce for an easy dish for you to recreate at home.

Sambal Sotong

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 50 minutes (30 min prep/ 20 min cooking)


sambal sotong

  • 500g squid, cleaned and sliced into rings
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • ? cup sambal sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp green onions, minced and optional for garnishing
  • ½ cup peanuts, toasted and salted and optional for garnishing
  • 4 eggs, fried and optional for garnishing
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced

Sambal Sauce

  • 8–10 pieces fresh Thai chilies, roughly chopped
  • 8–10 pieces dried chilies, pre-soaked for 10 minutes and drained
  • 1 1inch knob ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup shallots, peeled
  • 2 tbsp belacan, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for sautéing

Procedure: Sambal Sauce

  1. Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Heat a pan over medium heat and add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  3. Add the paste and stir frequently. Cook the mixture until the oil splits from the paste and the shallots are sweet, about 12-15 minutes.
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Procedure: Sotong

  1. Saute the onions and bell pepper for five minutes over medium heat.
  2. Turn up the heat and add the squid. Stir for one minute and ass the sambal sauce. Cook for another two minutes.
  3. Top with green onions and serve with peanuts, fried egg, and sliced cucumber.

Did you like the flavors of Asia at home? Share your unbidden love of Asian flavors with us, email us at We'd love to hear more from you!