Sambal. More versatile than you might think.
Sambal comes from Indonesia and originally consists of ground Spanish chillies. You already have sambal when you grind the red chillies with some salt, or by adding some water, oil or vinegar.
The best-known sambal (and the basis for many variations) is sambal oelek, named after the pestle with which the pepper is pulverised in Indonesia. But we also know for example sambal trassi, with fermented prawns; the sweet sambal manis, pedis (spicy!), brandal (extra spicy!) and sambal badjak, which is fried (with some onion).
Cooks who make their own sambal, and like to experiment, also use fried onions, mango, lemongrass, peanuts, pineapple, ginger or spices to give the sambal their preferred taste. It is sometimes said that every grandmother in Indonesia has her own sambal recipe.
In Thailand, you can order a freshly fried fish in many food courts. You get some vegetables and nam prik with it. The vegetables are needed to neutralise the salty and spicy taste of the nam prik, the Thai version of sambal presented as a dip sauce.
This fish is accompanied by nam prik kapi, a sauce with shrimp paste, chillies, garlic, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce. In the north of Thailand, they love nam prik ong, with minced pork and tomato. Or perhaps nam prik narok (chilli sauce from hell) with dried chillies, prawns, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, onion and catfish will make your mouth water.
Sambal too can be used in many ways. To spice up dishes, in marinades, for curry pastes, with an omelette, in soups and dips. Will you be eating hotchpotch again soon? Then think about sambal! Or try a lick of sambal on your toast, on a boiled egg, add it to your salad dressing or spread some on your peanut butter sandwich.