Bold, savory and spicy, this sambal terong balado, or sambal eggplant will definitely leave your tastebuds tingling! The eggplants are steamed instead of fried to make this Indonesian dish healthier and lighter. Easy to make and is ready in 30 minutes.
There is just something super addictive about Indonesian dishes, especially spicy ones. Featuring tender eggplants cooked in a savory rich homemade chili paste, this sambal terong balado is definitely a crowd pleaser!
A reminder to prepare some freshly steamed rice to pair with this dish. Rice and sambal go hand in hand in my opinion!
💚Why you will love this recipe
- Spicy, savory and packed with flavors - If you are a spice lover, this sambal eggplant is perfect for you! It has the perfect combination between sweet, salty, tangy and spicy.
- Healthy and light - Instead of frying the eggplants, we will be steaming them in this recipe. The result? Equally delicious dish with less fat and calories!
- Incredibly easy to make - This sambal terong balado only calls for simple wholesome ingredients, and you can easily whip up this dish in under 30 minutes, including making your own chili paste.
- A delicious way to get in your veg - This recipe is the living proof that veggies can actually taste good when prepared the right way!
🤔What is sambal balado
Sambal balado is essentially a ground chili paste that mainly consists of garlic, shallots, tomatoes, and red chilies.
Unlike the typical sambal, which is usually served as a condiment to accompany rice and noodles dishes, sambal balodo is used in cooking instead. For example, in this recipe, we will be using it to cook eggplants. This versatile paste can also be used to cook potatoes, seafood, and eggs.
🍆Best kind of eggplants to use
- Chinese eggplant - Will definitely recommend using this variety if you can get your hands on them. They are way less bitter when compared to regular eggplants, and have a mild, subtly sweet flavor.
- Japanese eggplant - Another great choice if you can't find the Chinese variety.
- Regular eggplant - Can be used as well, but you might have to soak them in salt water for at least 30 minutes to remove some of their bitterness. They are also less flavorful when compared to other varieties.
🧄What you will need
📃Ingredients notes and substitutions
- Eggplant -Eggplant - Use Chinese or Japanese variety if possible. They tend to be less bitter and more flavorful than regular ones.
- Shallot - Can be substituted with a medium yellow onion.
- Coconut sugar - You can substitute it with other granulated sugar like brown sugar or cane sugar.
🔪How to make
Here is a quick rundown of the processes involved in making sambal eggplant. The full detailed instructions will be in the recipe card at the end of the post.
Prepare eggplant by quartering them lengthwise, then slicing them into 3 inches pieces.
Now, it is time to cook the eggplants.
- To steam eggplants on stove - Bring a pot of water to a boil, then fit in steaming basket. Add in eggplant pieces and let it steam for 10-15 minutes, or until they are tender.
- To cook eggplants in Instant pot - Place a cup of water into the inner pot and place in a collapsible steaming basket. Seal and let it cook at high pressure for 1-2 minutes, then quick release the pressure.
Set aside eggplant for later use.
In a food processor, place in chilies, onion, garlic and tomato. Blend until a smooth paste forms.
Heat up a non-stick wok or pan and fry chili paste until fragrant, then add in cooked eggplants. Stir to mix.
Remove it from heat and your sambal eggplant is ready to be served!
- Choose eggplants that are firm without any blemishes or soft spots. Opt for smaller and slender ones, as they tend to be less bitter-tasting.
- If you are using regular eggplant, it is highly recommended that you soak them in salt water after slicing, for at least 30 minutes. This help remove some of their bitterness. Check out this post on 'how to brine eggplant' for a more detailed instructions.
- To make this sambal eggplant less spicy, deseeded the chilies. Or, you could reduce the amount of chilies used to 1.
- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for 2-3 days.
🍚How to serve
- Rice - Steamed white or brown rice, cauliflower rice or chickpea pulao.
- Noodles - This sambal terong balado also pairs well with noodle dishes too. Whip up a batch of teriyaki soba noodles, Mee Siam or chow mei fun to pair with it.
- Other Asian mains - Or, you could go all out and pair it with sambal tempeh, sweet potato chickpea curry or even yellow lentil dal.
❔Commonly asked questions
No, it is not necessary to peel your eggplant before cooking. The skin of eggplant, especially Chinese and Japanese eggplants, are tender, soft, and edible. Plus, the peel is highly nutritious and their pale purple color definitely brings drama to the dining table!
If you are using Chinese or Japanese eggplants, you can definitely skip soaking them in brine as they are pretty mild-tasting. However, if using regular eggplant, it is recommended that you soak them for at least 30 minutes in salt water to remove some of their bitterness.
Yes, you can definitely substitute Chinese eggplants for regular eggplants in this sambal terong belado. As mentioned above, you might want to soak your eggplants in saltwater if using regular ones they might be bitter.
🍽More Asian side dishes
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Sambal Terong Balado (Indonesian Sambal Eggplant)
- 1 lb Chinese eggplant *
- 3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 2 red chilies roughly chopped (deseed to make it less spicy) **
- 2 medium shallots roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar or other granulated sweetener
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Prepare eggplant by quartering them lengthwise, then slicing them into 3 inches pieces.1 lb Chinese eggplant
- Now, you can either steam eggplant on stove or in the Instant pot. To steam eggplants on stove - Bring a pot of water to a boil, then fit in steaming basket. Add in eggplant pieces and let it steam for 10-15 minutes, or until they are tender. Set aside.To cook eggplants in Instant pot - Place a cup of water into the inner pot and insert in a collapsible steaming basket. Seal and let it cook at high pressure for 1 minute for a chewy eggplant, or 2 minutes if you like yours to be softer. After timer goes off, quick release the pressure. Set aside for later use.
- In a food processor, place in garlic, chilies, shallots, sugar and salt. Process until smooth.2 red chilies, 3 cloves garlic, 2 medium shallots, 1 teaspoon coconut sugar, 1 teaspoon salt
- Heat up a tablespoon of neutral-tasting oil non-stick wok or pan. Fry chili paste until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in cooked eggplants and remove from heat. Give it a taste and add more salt, if needed.
- To make this sambal eggplant less spicy, deseeded the chilies. Or, you could reduce the number of chilies used to 1.
- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for 2-3 days.
Nutrition info calculated is just a rough estimate and is provided as a courtesy. Bear in mind that value will vary based on variables like specific brand or type of product used. To obtain the most accurate representation, it is highly recommended that you calculate it on your own with the actual amount and type of ingredient used.
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