Balado, The Tangy Chili Sambal from West Sumatra

Pin It
Image Hosted by

Sambal is such a staple sauce in Indonesia, with plenty of different assortments depend on the region. Another variety of sambals from Western Sumatra (a.k.a Minang) is balado. As I grew up with balado, this one was always on my dining table, at least every three to five times a week when I was in my homecountry.

Most Indonesians know how to make balado. Basic balado ingredients are shallots, chilies, tomato, salt, and lime. Some people might add terasi (dried shrimp paste), lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. My version has been adapted by enhancing with terasi (dried shrimp paste), kaffir lime leaves and calamansi.

In the first version, I used king mackerel fish (Indonesian: ikan tenggiri), Asian eggplant and petai (known also as sator). However, back then, I didn’t relish petai’s aroma, somehow I do miss petai’s aroma in the balado.

Moreover, the second version came with green asparagus, the vegetable is not common in Indonesia; for, asparagus itself is native to Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia. Let say this version is Indonesian Fusion cuisine.

Mackerel, Eggplant and Petai Balado
modified by me

King Mackerel, Eggplant and Petai Balado_hor

500 g king mackerel fish steak (Indonesian: tenggiri raja)
1 Chinese/Japanese eggplant, rinse off and cut as desired
10 petais
5 calamansis
raw sugar as desired
seasalt as desired

Balado Sambal
6 shallots (you will need more than 6, if you use smaller size shallots, since here, the shallots are bigger than in Indonesia)
1/2 cup fresh ground red hot chilies
1 tsp terasi (dried shrimp paste)
2 kaffir lime leaves
4 cherry tomatoes (Indonesian: tomat rampai/tomat sambal), halved

King Mackerel, Eggplant and Petai Balado_ver

1. Marinate fish with calamansi and seasalt for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, at 400F, bake eggplant cut with a small amount of oil for 15 minutes or until soft, but not mushy. Set aside.
3. Grill, broil, pan-sear or deep fry fish until golden brown. Set aside.

1. Grind shallot and terasi, combine with fresh ground red chilies.
2. Stir fry the ground spices and kaffir lime leaves until fragrant.
3. Add petai, tomatoes, and fish; keep stirring until well mixed. Last but not least, add eggplant and drizzle calamansi over, and season with sugar and salt; well-strred. Remove from the heat. Serve with warmed rice.

Asparagus Balado
modified by me
AB 1 copy

400 g asparagus spears
olive oil (only if you want to grill them)

Balado Sambal
See the recipe above.
AB 2

1. Asparagus can be grilled, steam or boil. Holding each asparagus spear at base and halfway up stalk, bend just until stalk snaps at natural breaking point.
Follow this instruction, only if you want to boil the asparagus. Pour water into large skillet to depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm); bring to boil. Arrange spears in 2 layers in water. Cover and cook for 2 minutes or until bright green and still crisp. Drain; chill under cold water. Drain; set aside on towels.

2. To make asparagus balado, follow balado’s instruction by omitting petai, fish and eggplant, just add tomatoes and asparagus.

AB 4

Pin It

About the Author

An Indonesian-born who lived in Winnipeg Edmonton, Canada for more than a decade prior to move to Edmonton in 2017. Indonesia Eats is a memoir of her homeland.