ASEAN Sambal delights fiery food lovers

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[Kuala Lumpur]  Many among the estimated 600 million people of the 10 ASEAN countries ‘just love’ to eat everything with ‘sambal’, the fiery hot chili paste. To many, the hotter the sambal the better and more appetizing the hot steaming rice will be. And, of course without the sambal, crushed from any type of the species ‘Capsicum annum’, the meal would not be complete, whatever the other tastier dishes laid out.

In Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, there seems to be an unofficial class of the sambal offered on the menu. The junior class is made with any number to a maximum of 20 pieces of chilies. The lightweight (30-100 chilies), the middleweight (100-400) and the heavyweight is with 500-1,000 chilies. Hard to believe? But that’s the norm for many sambal lovers. Add to the sambal some shredded fish, meat or shrimp paste or fish stock ‘budu’ or even some flesh of the king of fruit durian… Then, one will have the most satisfying and fulfilling meal of rice. The writer himself is in the middleweight class, but many of his friends in Indonesia are in the heavyweight category. What class are you in?

The next time you travel in Malaysia or Indonesia, don’t forget to try this extremely extreme sambal. A few select dishes which include such sambal are ‘nasi ayam penyet’ and ‘nasi ayam geprek’. Nasi ayam is simply rice with fried chicken. But the sambal that comes along is what makes it different from the other chicken rice. Dare to try?

By HM Nasir Yusoff

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