A friend from work came back from Holland this week and knowing that I am a sucker for all things hot and spicy grabbed a bottle of hot sauce for me on her way back.
The sauce in question is from ABC, an Indonesian company who manufacture a range of different sauces; this particular offering is their Sambal Extra Pedas which simply means extra hot.
Sambal being a Southern Asian sauce is often lumped in alongside Thai sauces such as Sriracha, now I cannot stand Sriracha and not just because of all the hype surrounding it at the moment, there is just a flavour to most store bought varieties that doesn’t appeal to me. Luckily for me though I have always quite enjoyed Sambal and I am keen to see how this particular brand measures up.Ingredients: chile, sugar, water, salt, garlic, starch, acetic acid, sodium benzoate
Upon opening the bottle I was hit straight away with a good big hit of chillies and garlic with just the slightest hint of sugary sweetness and vinegar coming through in the background.
This sambal looks an awful look like an orange slightly translucent tomato ketchup, it is completely smooth with not the slightest shred of seed or skin and has a medium viscosity that means you might have to give the bottle a bit of a whack to get things moving initially.
I had a sneaking suspicion that I might like this sauce; it looked good it smelt good and I am known to enjoy sambal, even so I was really really pleasantly surprised by just how good this sauce was.
The main flavours that come through straight away are the chillies and the garlic, the vinegar is there but you really have to be looking for it to find it and the sweetness seems just right. There is enough to offset the chillies and the garlic but not so much that it seems overly sweet or cloying.
Since opening the bottle I have tried this sauce on a whole bunch of different foods; sausages, prawns, cod, egg fried rice, wanton rolls…. the list is really quite exhaustive.
The foods have all been really quite different but one thing has been static across the board – the sambal has worked well with pretty much all of them!
Obviously it has faired best with the more Asian items like the fried rice and the wanton rolls but that delicious mix of chillies, garlic and sweetness also worked brillantly with the seafood. The prawns were lifted to another dimension and it really worked well with the big meaty cod steaks.
There is a decent bit of heat to this sauce, whilst it wont be breaking any records it is certainly hotter than a lot of other “sweet chilli sauces” that you would typically find in a supermarket which often are just sickly sweet concoctions with just enough chilli for you to notice it.
The burn, such as it is, stays very forward in your mouth and builds nicely whilst never really threatening to overwhelm. If you think that tap water has a kick to it then I would steer clear but otherwise you shouldn’t be in for any shocks.