Spicy Sambal Chicken and Shrimp Recipe

Yvonne Ruperti

Notes: Belachan is fermented shrimp paste, a common ingredient in Southeast asian cooking. It can be found in stores that specialize in Southeast Asian ingredients. The small amount of this potent stuff is not overpowering in this dish and adds a layer of pungency, but it can be omitted if you'd like.

Recipe Facts

Active: 25 mins
Total: 85 mins
Serves: 3 servings

Rate & Comment


  • 6 dry red hot chilies (such as chile de arbol or Thai bird)
  • 4 to 5 red Thai bird chilies, tops trimmed
  • 6 medium shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2-inch piece galangal (or ginger), quartered
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • Salt
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)
  • 1 teaspoon belachan, optional (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind pulp (or lime juice)
  • 1 teaspoon grated palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • Steamed rice to serve on the side


  1. Soak dry chilies in hot water for 15 minutes; drain. Place in food processor with Thai bird chilies, shallots, garlic, galangal (or ginger), 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse to a fine, but not completely smooth paste, 6 to 10 pulses.

  2. Place chicken and shrimp in medium bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons chili mixture. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

  3. Heat remaining oil in wok or 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining sambal mixture, and belachan (if using), and cook, stirring, until sambal is softened, golden, and becoming thick, about 5 minutes (see note). Stir in tamarind and palm sugar.

  4. Add chicken to pan. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add shrimp and any accumulated juices to pan. Continue to cook, stirring, until both chicken and shrimp are cooked through, edges are caramelized, and sambal mixture is deep golden, 2 to 4 minutes more. Season to taste with salt. Serve with steamed rice on the side.

Special equipment

wok or 12-inch nonstick skillet