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Sambal Oelek

Photo: Greg Dupree
Active time 20 mins
Total time 45 mins

Makes 1 1/4 cups (serving size: 2 tsp.)

Traditional sambal oelek—a fiery sauce popular in Malaysia and Indonesia—contains sugar, but ours doesn’t. The result is pure, straightforward chile flavor that’s balanced by the soft acidity of rice wine vinegar. Red Fresno chiles may well be easiest to find; their heat is less pungent than jalapeño or serrano. Serve the slightly chunky sauce with Asian noodle bowls, rice dishes, pho or other noodle soups, or anywhere you want a jolt of flavorful heat.


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 pound fresh red chiles (such as jalapeño or serrano), seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons water

Nutrition Information

  • calories 9
  • fat 0.5 g
  • satfat 0.0 g
  • monofat 0.3 g
  • polyfat 0.2 g
  • protein 0.0 g
  • carbohydrate 1 g
  • fiber 0.0 g
  • cholesterol 0.0 mg
  • iron 0.0 mg
  • sodium 96 mg
  • calcium 2 mg
  • sugars 1 g
  • Est. Added Sugars 0 g

How to Make It

  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add chiles; cook 10 minutes, stirring often. Add vinegar and salt; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor; add 3 tablespoons water. Pulse until nearly smooth, 3 to 4 times. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.