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A spicy dish for warm weather to cool you down, by making you sweat to death.

What is sambal?

Sambal is a spicy Southeast Asian condiment made, in its simplest form, from chile peppers and salt. A more elaborate sambal may contain onion, lime juice, lemongrass, sugar, garlic, oil and/or vinegar. You will find sambal in a jar or bottle at an Asian food market or in the international aisle at the grocery store.

There are many varieties of sambal. Sambal Oelek is the kind you're most likely to find in the U.S. ("Oelek", "Olek" or "Ulek" refers to the mortar and pestle used to create sambal in Indonesian kitchens.) One Malaysian version, Sambal belacan, is made with shrimp paste. Sambal ikan bilis has dried anchovies in it. Sambal kemiri contains candlenuts.

6 dry red hot chilies (such as chile de arbol or Thai bird)
4 to 5 red Thai bird chilies, tops trimmed
6 medium shallots, peeled and quartered
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2-inch piece galangal (or ginger), quartered
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
12 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)
1 teaspoon belachan, optional (see note above)
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp (or lime juice)
1 teaspoon grated palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
Steamed rice to serve on the side
Soak dry chilies in hot water for 15 minutes; drain. Place in food processor with Thai bird chilies, shallots, garlic, galangal (or ginger), 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse to a fine, but not completely smooth paste, 6 to 10 pulses.

Place chicken and shrimp in medium bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons chili mixture. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Heat remaining oil in wok or 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining sambal mixture, and belachan (if using), and cook, stirring, until sambal is softened, golden, and becoming thick, about 5 minutes (see note above). Stir in tamarind and palm sugar.

Add chicken to pan. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add shrimp and any accumulated juices to pan. Continue to cook, stirring, until both chicken and shrimp are cooked through, edges are caramelized, and sambal mixture is deep golden, 2 to 4 minutes more. Season to taste with salt. Serve with steamed rice on the side.


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