For Mothers’ Day (I know; that was ages ago), one of my west-coast sisters dined on her back deck (physically distancing, of course) with the 5 people in their bubble. The dinner they devised was made up of all the childhood favourites that their mothers had made for special occasions. The dish my sister chose from our mother’s festive dinner repertoire was beef stroganoff.
J’adore beef stroganoff!! With egg noodles tossed with butter and poppy seeds – even though Mum NEVER served it with noodles. Especially poppy-seeded noodles. Oh my no. That would have been too adventurous.
And yet we never have stroganoff any more. Why?! How can such a delicious dish have fallen out of favour? (Ha. Perhaps it’s because it looks a little bit like dog’s breakfast. )
I resigned myself to having stroganoff vicariously.
Then, the other day, T reported that he had been watching Ming Tsai and Jamie Bissonnette on Simply Ming as they made two different stroganoffs. Jamie Bissonnette added sambal oelek to his stroganoff!
Suddenly, I was informed that we were going to have stroganoff, but not just any stroganoff – stroganoff with sambal oelek. I wasn’t exactly sure what sambal oelek was. But I wasn’t going to argue. As I said, j’adore stroganoff!
Naturally, T decided to make his own sambal oelek. Why not?!
Discovering just how hot the sambal oelek T made is, I wasn’t convinced that it should be cooked right into the stroganoff. I chose the diplomatic route by suggesting we serve the sambal oelek in little dishes on the side.
We could use the cute little cat dishes that my Toronto sister gave us for Christmas.
And T readily agreed. Mostly because he wasn’t sure he wanted to cook the sambal oelek. It would lose its freshness!
T looked at a number of Sambal Oelek recipes online. Many of them called for lemongrass. Many of them suggested cooking the sambal.
He chose to pretty much follow Mike Hultquist’s Chili Pepper Madness recipe, mostly because it doesn’t call for lemongrass. (Alas, the lemongrass I had in a pot did not make it through past February, even though I rescued it from the great outdoors in October to overwinter under the lights in the basement.)
Sambal Oelek is Indonesian, and it is essentially a raw chili paste that is ground. It uses very few ingredients, traditionally red chili peppers, vinegar and salt.
It can be used as a base to make sambals and other sauces, and works best when used more as a condiment or flavoring ingredient than as a direct sauce or hot sauce.
– Mike Hultquist, Chili Pepper Madness | Sambal Oelek Recipe
T used red Thai chiles (the little ones) that we get from the Indian grocer not far from us. Unless we are getting our chile pepper fix from our wonderful neighbour, who grows the chiles just for us! T also added lime zest as well as lime juice to Mik Hultquist’s recipe.
We’re really glad that T chose a recipe that doesn’t call for cooking. The sambal is wonderfully fresh-tasting.
Hot. Hot. Hot.
It is also wonderful; it’s too wonderful to mix right into the stroganoff to get lost. It has to be served as a condiment. A little goes a long way, but make sure to put the jar on the table.
Along with lots and lots of steamed broccoli – which is also delicious with sambal oelek (the broccoli is unpictured here on purpose – that photo was really ugly), we also served Persian beet, red cabbage and date salad. Remind me to rave about that salad!
…did I mention that sambal oelek that T made is hot?
Sambal Oelek: In many ways this Southeast Asian chile paste is the exact opposite of sriracha—chunky, not smooth; brash and vinegary, not sweet; fresh-tasting where sriracha is more simmered and mellow—but it brings the same light touch and big heat to all sorts of dishes from Southeast Asia. Also great for stirring into dumpling dipping sauces.
– Saveur Editors, SAVEUR Magazine | The Hot List: 13 Hot Sauces From Around the World That Deserve a Spot in Your Pantry, June 2016