Jul 30

Sambal Matah (Balinese Raw Shallot and Lemongrass Relish)—Celebrating Jalapeno Mania!

in Indonesia/Malaysia, Sauces & Condiments

Sambal Matah

I am a chilihead, so I always have my eye out for new ways to enjoy hot chili peppers.  My newest chili recipe acquisition was a recipe for Balinese Sambal Matah.  My take on this recipe will be the next thing I submit to a site I recently found out about that I am super excited about—Jalapeño Mania.

Jalapeno Mania

Jalapeño Mania is a free go-to recipe resource for pepper lovers.  It is a user generated resource—pepper lovers submit their food photos/recipes (bloggers, brands, chefs etc….anyone with a website with recipes to share!) to be included so other pepper aficionados can be inspired and try out new recipes.   Recipes are organized by pepper type on the site and on Jalapeno Mania’s Pinterest boards, so that it is easy for you to find recipes that use your favorite pepper(s).

Jalapeno Mania Recipes

You can also save your favorites on the site.  Jalapeño Mania isn’t just about jalapeño recipes; they love all peppers, even mild bells, dried chiles and ground chiles, too! As long as a recipe has one pepper ingredient, it’s eligible for submission.  I’ve already started submitting some of my own favorite creations that include peppers and I selfishly hope you will too so that I can have even more recipe ideas!

Okay, now back to that sambal recipe!  Sambal is a sauce or relish typically made from a variety of chili peppers and ingredients such as shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, sugar, lime juice, and vinegar. They can be chunky or smooth.  Sambals are usually served as condiments for a variety of dishes and range in intensity from mild to hot. In the Indonesian archipelago, there are as many as 300 varieties of sambal. This particular sambal can be customized to fit your desired heat level by using more or less chili. Sambal Matah is a raw shallot and lemongrass sambal that originated on the island of Bali. Mr. Fuji and I traveled to Bali at the end of May and took a cooking class at a cooking school in a small mountain village.

Chilies at a market in Bali

Sambal Matah was one of the dishes we learned to cook and I have adapted the recipe we learned to use ingredients that are easier for me to find. When I first read through the ingredients before we started cooking at our class it didn’t look overly special, but after preparing it and tasting it the flavor proved me wrong. That’s actually putting it mildly because I was blown away. It delivers a punch of flavor in a way that has me wanting to spoon this over everything. I made a batch this week to go along with a meal I was cooking for my dad as a belated Father’s Day gift (we’re currently visiting my parents in Southern California), and my parents’ reactions were the same. You could practically see their eyes pop when they tasted it. Seriously people, it is crazy good.

Whipping up a batch is very simple. The hardest part is the time it takes to thinly slice the shallots, lemongrass, chilies, and ginger. Once chopping is done, all that’s left to do is stir everything together with some fish sauce, salt, white pepper, coconut oil, lime zest, and lime juice. It is fabulous eaten with everything from noodles to fish. You could even have a simple snack of steamed rice with a bit of sambal matah spooned over it. And if you are a fried egg lover like me, it is AMAZING spooned over an egg cooked sunnyside up. Whip up a batch to nosh on while you hop on over and get ideas for future meals that feature chilies over on Jalapenomania. (Or submit your own ideas!)

Balinese Raw Shallot and Lemongrass Sambal

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Sambal Matah (Balinese Raw Shallot and Lemongrass Relish)


2 large shallots, thinly sliced
3 Thai chilies, thinly sliced
3 stalks lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed and white portion only thinly sliced
1 (1/4-inch long) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
4 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Zest of 1 lime, finely grated
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons coconut oil, heated until it is completely liquid

1. Mix the shallots, chilies, lemongrass, ginger, and fish sauce together in a small bowl.

2. Add the lime juice, salt, and pepper and toss to combine, then let the sambal sit for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

3. Stir in the coconut oil and let the sambal sit for an additional 10 minutes before serving.

*Recipe Notes: The original sambal matah recipe that I learned to make used tiny fiery red Balinese chili peppers. When I went to the 99 Ranch Market near my parent’s house they only had green Thai chilies (Bird’s Eye chilies), so I went for those. You can use green or red Thai chilies with great results. Although I haven’t tried it yet, I think it would also be delicious made with Serrano peppers. The original recipe uses a shrimp paste called terasi. Since I had fish sauce on hand, I substituted that for the shrimp paste. Finally, kaffir lime juice was used in the original recipe, but the market I went to didn’t have any kaffir limes, so I used the zest and juice of a regular lime instead. Still delicious!

*Disclosure: I was compensated for this post by Jalapeno Mania.  My opinions and experiences are my own. Participating in this service is a no-brainer for me as a lover of peppers! 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Fuji Nana July 30, 2015 at 6:47 pm

This stuff is mind-blowingly good. I can think of dozens of dishes it would be good on, from plain rice to curries to salads. A definite keeper!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) August 4, 2015 at 12:15 am

I’m so glad you liked it!! I’m a bit obsessed with it myself.


Judy Kenison Cannon via Facebook July 30, 2015 at 8:09 pm

Seriously good stuff.


Fuji Papa July 31, 2015 at 8:03 pm

I’m not normally a rice lover. But for our meal I had about three servings of rice solely so I could spoon on some more sambal mata. Seriously great stuff. If you like it spicy, this is for you.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) August 4, 2015 at 12:18 am

I will turn you into a rice lover yet! Haha! I am SO GLAD that you liked it! I agonized over what to make for you for that dinner!!


Jeff Reyes August 3, 2015 at 10:32 am

We just made this last night to try out with some halibut I just caught on a fishing trip. You weren’t kidding. This stuff is amazing. I think we’re going to be making this one a lot.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) August 4, 2015 at 12:19 am

Freshly caught halibut?!? So jealous! So glad you liked it! This was definitely one of those recipes that I instantly fell in love with and couldn’t wait to return home and adapt it to my kitchen!


Noriko August 4, 2015 at 7:40 pm

Your sambal matah was really good with somen. I also tried it with Chinese egg noodles and I actually preferred it with the egg noodles because of the texture. In any case your recipe is a keeper!! Perfect for this crazy hot weather over here.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) August 14, 2015 at 6:15 pm

Noriko — Woohoo!!! I love the thought of it with Chinese egg noodles. I am so glad that you liked it!


Adam G February 8, 2017 at 7:55 am

Thanks for the recipe. I’ve been buying Sambal Matah at Trader Joe’s and just discovered its discontinued. Looks like I have to roll my own!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) February 23, 2017 at 5:06 pm

I’m glad that you have an option and don’t have to go without! That would be tragic. :-)


Kitty September 22, 2018 at 9:23 pm

Just back from Bali and longing for sambal matah… Thank you for posting this recipe! I riffed on it, substituting sesame oil for coconut, scallions and a touch of garlic for shallots, and adding finely julienned keffir lime leaves. It is the beauty of sambals to create them with what you have. Namaste!


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