It's an kind of chili sauce. You could sub with sriracha.
The bottle in my kitchen is the "Rooster" brand, the same company that makes the best known Sriracha (Huy Fong Foods). It's subtitled Ground fresh chili paste. Primary ingredients are Chili, Salt, Distilled Vinegar. I was introduced to it as an Indonesian condiment, and we buy it at an Asian grocery. It's hot! A little bit has a lot of flavor. Probably any chili paste could fill in, depending on your tolerance, since it a straight-forward mix.
Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
Sambal olek is in some circles, such as mine, the meaning of life. It's a liquidy paste of red chile peppers. Sriracha would be a decent substitute, as you've been wisely advised. Start with a little, taste, then add more. Stop when your hair catches fire.
Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking
Take heart! At least in the places I've lived, it is pretty easy to find--like susan g said, there's a brand made by the same group as the most common Rooster Sriracha. I just printed out aargersi's Thai Inspired Flank Salad--is that what you're thinking of? Me too.
When you think about how the Sambal is made, you might try Tabasco Sauce as a universally available option -- because the peppers are steeped in vinegar, and because it is free of other ingredients similar to Sambal Oelek. Difference, the SO is very thick, crushed and I believe hotter than Tabasco. Hope you can find it!
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
I think the bottom line is that if you can find sriracha you can almost always find sambal sitting next to it on the shelf in the Asian section. The only thing I'll add is that sriracha to me is becoming as boring as Heinz 57---there are other great Asian chili condiments out there.
I'm with pierino. Sriracha is sort of the new black. Go for sambal if you can.
And you can make your own sriracha http://www.food52.com/recipes... so why not make your own sambal http://www.cookasianfood...
thanks to all. Looks like I'll be making a trip to the one store that carries everything from every country.
An additional note... turns out you can find it on Amazon, the Rooster brand. So thanks again.
a tip from a native indonesian who eats sambal almost everytime she eats: handmade sambel is always better than bottled sambal,to be honest bottled sambal,in any brand,tastes weird...
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