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Overhead view of sambal belacan in a black bowl.

How to Make Sambal Belacan

Learn how to make Sambal Belacan! It’s a sweet, savory and spicy Malaysian style condiment that's simple to make with just a few ingredients.
Course Condiment
Cuisine Malaysian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Danielle Wolter



  • Heat a skillet over medium and add the shrimp paste.
  • Use a wooden spoon to break it into pieces while it toasts.
  • Toast for about 5-10 minutes, until it becomes mostly dry and powdery. (This will make your house smell pretty strongly of shrimp paste).
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until a paste is formed. If it's too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it is a paste/sauce consistency.
  • Store in the fridge for up to a week, or in cubes in the freezer for 6 months.


  1. For a spicier sambal belacan, use spicy chili peppers. For a sweeter condiment, use milder chili peppers.
  2. Make sure you’re using fresh red chilies and not dried chilies.
  3. If it’s too tangy from the lime juice, add a little more coconut sugar.
  4. While dried shrimp paste is a key ingredient, if you can’t find any, you can use fish sauce to create a similar umami flavor.
  5. Don’t skip the step of toasting the dried shrimp paste as this helps bring out the flavors.
  6. If you’re having trouble getting it to a dry and powdery consistency, grind it using a mortar and pestle.
  7. If you don’t have a blender, you can use a food processor to blend the paste.
  8. For a thinner paste, just add more water until it reaches your desired consistency.