Recipe: How to Make Sambal Belacan and Sambal Petai

Ingredients for chilli paste

Written by Annabella Ng, Photo by Alex Khaw

Sambal Belacan is a well-known condiment throughout Southeast Asia – naturally it’s also loved by many in Singapore. Unfortunately many hawkers and restaurants here scrimp on its ingredients, and it usually ends up watery or diluted.

This fiery recipe is passed down from Alex’s mother, Auntie Ng. It’s been Alex’s favourite for a long time, and now it’s all our favourite at RMP!

There are a few stages to this flavourful dish – we’re making the sambal becalan paste from scratch, which includes making a chilli paste.

Sambal Petai dish

Stage 1: Chilli paste

Ingredients for chilli paste

Chilli paste

Ingredients for chilli paste:

  1. 100g big red chilli, deseeded
  2. 5g chilli padi
  3. 20g dried red chilli
  4. 200g small red onions
  5. 160g big red onions
  6. 160g garlic
  7. 60g belacan (dried shrimp paste)
  8. 2 tablespoons water


  1. Heat belacan in microwave oven for 30 seconds.
  2. Grind all the ingredients into a paste. Grind it in small portions, and add 1-2 tablespoons of water to make grinding easier. Set chilli paste aside.

Tips: Wear gloves when deseeding chilli to prevent chilli burn

Stage 2: Sambal belacan paste

Dried shrimp

Ground up dried shrimp

Mixing the dried shrimp

Almost ready

Ingredients for sambal belacan paste (makes 800g):

  1. Chilli paste (as above)
  2. 140g dried shrimps
  3. 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  4. 4 tablespoons water
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 teaspoon sugar


  1. Grind dried shrimps. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a wok on medium flame.
  3. Add in chilli paste.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil when the paste starts drying up. Lower heat.
  5. Add ground up dried shrimps into mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of water. Continue frying until water has reduced.
  6. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Fry until paste becomes drier.
  7. Take it off heat. Transfer into a container to let it cool.

Stage 3: Sambal petai

Petai (sliced into half)

Stir-fry the petai

Ingredients for sambal petai (serves 8):

  1. 6 tablespoons of sambal belacan paste
  2. 2 packets of petai (bitter bean)
  3. 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  4. 250g peeled fresh small prawns (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a wok. Add sambal belacan paste.
  2. Fry for 20 seconds. Add petai.
  3. Stir-fry for 5 minutes on low heat. Keep stirring and don’t let it stand.
  4. Take it off heat and serve.

Note: Add in prawns 3 minutes after adding petai in order to not overcook the prawns.


  1. Foodie says:

    Hello. Many thanks 🙂 Great article.

  2. Steven chiew says: