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Sambal Oelek

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What is it?

An Indonesian uncooked chile paste made of ground red chiles, salt, and vinegar. Some versions may contain garlic or sugar. Unlike other Asian chile pastes such as sriracha or gochujang, sambal oelek has a chunky texture with seeds and bits of chile pulp; “oelek” refers to a mortar-and-pestle-like tool used to make the paste.

How to use:

Use sambal oelek to spice up stir-fries, curries, or just about anything else. Add it at the beginning of cooking if you want it to really permeate the dish, or at the end if you want more of a surface heat. Until you’re familiar with the heat level or the brand you’re using, start with a very small amount; you can always add more.

How to store:

Some brands may separate during storage, so stir them before using. Once opened, sambal oelek will last just about indefinitely if tightly covered and refrigerated.

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