Grocery Ninja: Sambal Goreng Udang, Indonesian 'Furikake'

The Grocery Ninja leaves no aisle unexplored, no jar unopened, no produce untasted. Creep along with her below, and read all her mission reports here.


These are one of the most addictive snacks I've come across since Calbee Shrimp Chips—which is saying a lot, given that in my household, we go through maybe three jumbo bags of Calbee a week (and then go and run a 10K after, but that's another story).

Sambal goreng udang roughly translates to "fried chile prawns" and is a traditional Indonesian dish. In the original, you bring together a rempah—a pounded, wet spice mix of shallots, garlic, fresh turmeric, galangal, lemon grass, belacan (fermented shrimp paste), shredded makrud lime leaves, lime juice, and coconut cream. The resulting paste is sautéed in hot oil to bring out its aroma before fresh-caught, head-on shrimp are added to the wok.

20090302-sgu%20tin.jpgWhen I spotted a tin of sambal goreng udang at an Indonesian grocery, I thought it would contain premixed spices. Then, when I brought it home and popped the lid, I was convinced I had been suckered of my money—having shelled out six bucks for nine ounces of a sambal goreng udang–flavored potato chip.

As it turns out, I was wrong. But first, given that I had dived fist first into the tin, I feel the need to evaluate them as chips: These are the yummiest, shrimpiest, crunchiest chips I've come across, and the remarkable thing is that the shrimp flavor isn't due to MSG or some random artificial flavoring. These chips are shrimpy because there are actually dried, ground shrimp in there. In fact, dried shrimp is the first ingredient on the list, followed by potatoes, chiles, onions, sugar, salt, and spices. To clarify, the shrimp hasn't been incorporated in a dough and then extruded in potato stick form. The shrimp has actually been sautéd with onions and spices before being ground—almost to the consistency of pork floss—and mixed in with potatoes.

Having said that, after blabbing about my "discovery" to my Indonesian friends, I found out that you're not actually meant to be eating sambal goreng udang (the tin version) on its own. Indonesians eat it with rice—a spicy, jazzed-up version of furikake (Japanese rice-toppers).

My greedy self reckons it's a "waste" to dilute their utter deliciousness with plain rice (though I can definitely see them starring in an Indonesian rice ball—perhaps on a base of richly flavored sticky rice cooked in coconut milk), and so I persist in calling them chips. They are completely dry and ungreasy, and if you're a fan of crisp bits (you know, those almost-burnt-but-not-quite edges of chips that are extra, super crunchy, and which my brother and I fight over because he clearly does not respect his elders), then these were made for you.

I get my supply from Ori Deli, a sleepy little grocery that stocks Indonesian and Dutch foodstuffs in San Jose, California. You can also find them online, or check out the recipe for a very similar dried-anchovy version here.

Ori Deli

5479 Snell Avenue, San Jose CA 95123 (map) 408-578-6262 Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays; noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays; 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays