This is the basic recipe for an Indonesian-style Sambal Goreng. Basically you can replace these ingredients if you don't have them:
  • Tempeh. This is a type of 'tofu' with small 'pits'. It's actually better tasting than 'tofu' tahoe. Replace it with patatoes or just use tofu.
  • Shallots. Use green onions or fresh scallions.
  • Sambal. Can be compared with what we call 'salsa sauce'. Don't use the salsa sauce or 'hot' tomato ketchup, stick with 'chilli peppers' and a spoon of tomato sauce.Campbell's is OK.
  • lemongrass. Hard to find? Try a teaspoon of 'lemon yello powder'. Seriously. (don't use real lemon :)). (Lemongrass is also known as 'sereh').
  • tamarind juice. Hard to replace. I found ginger pretty OK, experiment I would say!
  • coconut milk. Try the coconut powder!

The recipe can be part of a complete 'rijsttafel': serve rice, fresh vegetables and a nice peanut sauce.


1 packet (2 pieces) tempeh, cut into small cubes
250g (1 block) tofu, cut into small cubes
200g long beans, sliced diagonally into pieces
100g beef fillet, sliced thinly (optional)
100g shrimp meat, shelled and cleaned
1/2 cup fried shallots
1/2 tsp saffron powder
1/2 tsp sambal or 1 level tsp chilly paste
1 stalk lemongrass, crushed
1 tbsp tamarind juice
50ml coconut milk
1 tbsp sugar
Sufficient oil for deep-frying in a wok


Deep-fry 'tempeh', tofu, long beans and shrimps until lightly crisp. Drain and place aside.
In a wok, heat a tablespoon of oil to fry lemongrass with chilli.
Add the tamarind juice and saffron powder and mix well.
Set heat to medium and add beef and shrimp.
Stir-fry until beef is cooked before adding shallots, tofu and tempeh.
Continue stirring to mix well while adding coconut milk with three tablespoons of water.
Add sugar and then salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Sambal goreng literally means 'fried sambal'. Many Indonesian dishes are called "sambal goreng something": sambal goreng telor (egg), sambal goreng buncis (beans), sambal goreng kering kentang (mini potato chips), etc. They are all dishes featuring fried sambal, or at least fried chilli, and spices.

My personal favorite is sambal goreng telor. To make this, you need (for 5 small servings or two large ones):

Hard boil the eggs. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Fry diced onion, minced garlic, trassi, minced pepper and minced galangal slowly for about 10 minutes. Add bay leaf, tamarind, sugar, coconut milk and half a cup of water and cook for five minutes. Peel the eggs , slice them in half lengthwise and heat them through in the sauce for about five more minutes.

You can vary the spiciness of the dish by changing the kind of pepper you use, or by adding sambal. This dish is suitable as part of a rijsttafel or as an Indonesian vegetarian meal, in that case serve with rice and a vegetable dish.

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