When I was small, I was told that the seeds in a chili must be removed as they could not be digested and immediately, my over-imaginative mind started conjuring pictures of the seeds germinating and chili plants growing out of my ears and nose and bearing fruit. Gee!!! What a nightmare that was!!!

They also said that the core or the centre part would be the spiciest and once removed, what one cooked would be more easily tolerated as it would not be so hot anymore. Of course, those were the days when I was still small, not into anything spicy but these days, the chilies that I get from the market can be most frustrating as they are simply not spicy hot at all. Unlike in the past, I could just use my fingers to remove the seeds and the core, no problem at all. That is why I always say that they are good mainly for colour and decoration and nothing much else.

Ever so often, we would have to resort to using cili padi or this smaller version of the chili…


…in order that we would be able to have that much-coveted spiciness in whatever we’re cooking.

I would never use a blender to grind my chili as no matter how many times you pulsate, the seeds would still be there, unaffected. So what I usually do is to cut the chilies into small bits like these…

Sambal belacan 1

…and pound, making sure that I crush all the seeds to powder…

Sambal belacan 2

…while doing so. Once you do not see the seeds anymore…

Sambal belacan 3

…the chilies would have been sufficiently pounded already, that’s for sure.

To make sambal belacan (dried prawn paste dip), it is best to toast the pieces of belacan first…

Sambal belacan 4

…over a fire in a non-stick pan so that it will be more fragrant and much nicer. I have seen those that have already been toasted on sale at the convenience store at KLIA (arrivals) but I don’t think we can get our simply-the-best Bintulu belacan pre-toasted like that. Ah well, it’s no big matter really as it is very easy to do that and will only take a minute or two – people can be really spoilt rotten these days, it seems.

Once done, put the belacan in together with the pounded chili…

Sambal belacan 5

…and pound some more. It may be a bit too dry for a dip so you can squeeze some calamansi lime juice…

Sambal belacan 6

…into it, stirring everything together and mixing them well. Use a strainer to prevent the seeds from dropping in – it is bad enough that you may have chili plants growing out of your ears and nose, I’m sure you would not want lime trees sprouting out as well. Muahahahahaha!!!!! Add more lime juice if you prefer it more diluted and add a bit of sugar if you find that it is a little bit too sour for your liking.

The other day, I was preparing this very yummy dip for my ulam (the Malaysian version of the salad)…

Sambal belacan & steamed brinjal ulam

…for lunch and I steamed some brinjal for that. There are a host of things that can go well with the dip such as cucumber, raw and cut into bite-size chunks, ladies’ fingers or long beans, lightly boiled, four-angle beans, kangkong, lightly blanched and so on and so forth.

I would say it is relatively healthy eating stuff like this as there is no oil used, no added salt (other than what may be  in the dried prawn paste) and no msg…and the best part, of course, would be the fact that I love it…a lot! Yum! Yum!

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

24 thoughts on “Healthy…”

  1. No Oil? Its a YES from me, i LOVE cili padi 😀

    You do? Hmmmm….thought you’re more into those non-spicy western stuff. Hehehehehe!!!!!

  2. Hiya! Catching up on your blog yet again 🙂 I have a few posts up over the last few days as well 🙂 Have to say I TOTALLY LOVE the Red Peppers you posted! YAY! Loved seeing you with your mortar and pestle out and grinding spices and flavors!

    I actually enjoy doing it…slowly and I find things pounded by hand taste a lot nicer than blended.

  3. I also try to remove as much seed as possible when I see chilli. Yummy, I could smell your sambal.

    Nice, very very nice…spicy and the Bintulu belacan was top quality. Yum! Yum!

  4. Oh, when I was a kid, my version was orange (or apple) seeds.. If I swallowed the seeds, then trees will grow from on top my head, yucky! I actually believed and lived with that until I was 10 or 11 years old, duh….
    Oh, about the chilli seeds, some of it were right.. It cannot be digested, I heard the seeds will be “filtered” and “stored” in the tummy, but dunno which part, the appendix?

    I heard something like that too – would lead to appendix problem, they said.

  5. Haha!!!… Have heard of the old wives’ tales when young. With all the chilli seeds in, I can imagine how hot & spicy your sambal belacan is. Each time, after cutting this type of chilli, I can feel the burning sensation in my hand. Those big chillis are hopeless. I like ladies finger with sambal belacan.

    It was spicy but mainly because of the type of chili used. The big ones are all hopeless. I love anything with ulam sambal belacan…very nice.

  6. After sambal belacan is cooked, I don’t mind eating it, but while it’s cooking I find the smell so strong it makes my eyes water.

    At least you’re better than those young undergrads on campus in the UK. When I was cooking anything with belacan at my house and they were walking past, they would go spitting away, making all those dreadful noise of clearing their throats or whatever. Tsk! Tsk! Different story when I was cooking curry though…

  7. hahaha!! how imaginative our Food Mayor of Sibu was to conjure pictures of the seeds germinating and chili plants growing out of my ears and nose and bearing fruit!!! kekekekeke.. i’ve never thought or imagined that, but what has been real is that, whenever i pangsai after eating chilis, i sure can see the seeds in my sai~~ 😀

    Eyewwwww!!!! Your digestive system isn’t all that efficient. Never noticed but if it is spicy hot, it can be a painful experience. 😉 Will happen with ladies fingers (the vegetable) though… Muahahahahaha!!!!!

  8. Wah …. You make chilli belacan ! I still don’t take chilli seeds, afraid it will cause indigestion but not growing in my body. :p

    Lots of ’em in the chili dip they give with chicken rice. You eat those?

    1. Those already broken down. I mean I don’t take those in seed form.

      Where got – all those in the chicken rice shops, blended not pounded, so lots of seeds…unless they take the trouble to remove the seeds before blending – not many do, so busy running the business, where got time?

      See! See! Can you see the seeds…
      CR dips

  9. Haha I think I’ve heard one of those stories before about seeds growing out of your nose and ears.

    Hahahaha!!!! Must have scared the living daylights out of the poor little kids.

  10. Come to think of it, I never really pound fresh chilies. In fact never make sambal belacan from scratch. Homemade is yummy…

    Not a fan of the bottled ones.

  11. Super, super!!! These homemade sambal belacan are the best ever! Yes, squeeze in some lime and dip with steamed ladies fingers, brinjal… best in the whole world.. hahaha.. not excluding the ulams too… last time when I was small, my mom used to buy kati of cockles… pour hot water over them and then dip inside these sambal…and WOW… I really MISS this type of delicacy!!

    Cockles? They would have their own special chili dip. Hmmm…haven’t had those for a long long time now. Maybe I can do that one of these days. 😉

  12. Oh, hah..hah…I was paranoid about plants growing in my tummy too when I was a kid! Ah…sambal belacan, makes everything taste so good. I also love it with ulam and grilled brinjals. My grandma used to grill the brinjals over the gas stove. And we also like it with raw cabbage and tomatoes. And what you say about the red chillies is true. No kick at all.

    Dunno what happened to ’em chilies… 😦 I love grilled brinjals – stuff them with pounded chili…ooooo…heavenly, but cutting down on oil, so just be goody-goody and have ’em steamed. 😉 LOL!!!

  13. hahaha….when i was a kid,i have those scary thoughts too especially accidentally swallowed seeds from fruits eg, grapes.

    Cilli not spicy ? Wow…u sure can take spicy food. I love spicy food, but not too spicy. I can’t handle them.

    The big ones these days are really not spicy at all. In the past, when removing the seeds, I had to be careful not to touch the inside, seeds and all – will leave a burning sensation, so hard to get rid of it. These days, I can just use my hands…nothing ta all. So useless.

    Last time, my mum used to scare us – say swear words/use foul language, stuff chili in the mouth. I think cannot use that threat anymore these days – not hot at all.

  14. My mom will prepare sambal belacan, store in bottle and refrigerate it. Cos all of us love it. Then we’ll either eat with rice when there aren’t much dishes and also nice for dipping fish balls. hehe….

    I do pound a lot too and keep in the fridge, eat or use for cooking slowly. Quite a hassle if have to pound bit by bit all the time.

  15. just looking at the crimson chillies makes me feel like sweating from their fiery heat! i like your pics of the pestle and mortar… reminds me of how my grandmother made sambal too! 😀

    From Malacca and you’re not into this peranakan kind of cuisine. Oh dear! My favourite so when I go to these restaurants, it would be really tough for them to satisfy me…! 😉

  16. AH! Now i know how to prepare sambal belacan. Look easy, will try it one day too. I like it a bit watery, not so dry, maybe should add more calamansi lime juice.

    Wahhhh!!! You know how to eat belacan now kah? If I had known, I would have made some for you to take back, keep it fridge, can eat slowly.

  17. I’ve never really known how to make sambal belacan from scratch. I mean, I had the general idea what goes in, but thanks for showing the step-by-step. It is so easy! I love a good sambal belacan. Think I will go in search of a good mortar and pestle now.. 😉

    Ya, can’t do without those. 😉

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: