Nasi lemak and belacan chilli are simply inseparable. The sweet tang and spiciness of the chilli add layers of complexity and new dimensions to an already beloved dish. No nasi lemak set is truly complete without a generous helping of chilli on the side!
But how much do you really know about belacan chilli? There are many variations out there, with every restaurant in Singapore having its own secret recipe. From the traditional Malay sambal to our very own Thai-style signature belacan. Let’s take a deep dive into the critical qualities of amazing nasi lemak chilli and what makes Lavender Nasi Lemak’s signature chilli oh-so-special!
What Exactly is Belacan Chilli?
You are most likely familiar with sambal, a spicy condiment from Malaysia made with chillies. It is highly common across Southeast Asian cuisine and is often used in all sorts of local dishes. Belacan is a type of shrimp paste made out of small shrimp or krill. Mix chilli and belacan with citrus and sugar, and you have your basic building blocks of belacan chilli.
Here at Lavender Nasi Lemak, we take things one step further by incorporating unique Thai influences. By using Thai belacan and palm sugar, our signature belacan chilli infuses a distinct, well-balanced flavour into our Thai-inspired nasi lemak.
What Makes a Good Belacan Chilli?
1. Using Fresh Chillies for a Spicy Kick
Only fresh chillies will do the trick, so try not to use dried chillies. Commonly used chilli types include cayenne chilli or bird’s eye chilli, also known as Thai chilli. Naturally, the more chilli you add, the spicier your resulting belacan chilli will be. It takes careful balancing to nail the correct quantity of chilli so that the condiment will offer a satisfying spice without being too overpowering. One option is to scrape out the seeds from the chilli pod to reduce the spice levels while retaining the aromatic chilli flavour.
2. Adding the Right Amount of Lime Juice & Belacan
One way to enhance the flavour of your shrimp paste is to toast it in a frying pan before incorporating it with the other ingredients. Like toasting spices, doing so will bring out its aroma and give it a more potent umami punch.
Lime juice contributes a delightful tang and a freshness to the chilli, helping cut through the spiciness. In Singapore, the juice of calamansi is traditionally used over Key limes or Persian limes.
3. Grinding the Ingredients Together Perfectly
Now it’s time to bring everything together. Chilli, Thai belacan, Thai palm sugar, lime juice, and garlic need to be well-blended to release all their flavours and transform into a smooth condiment. In the past, this was done by hand using a mortar and pestle. Nowadays, people may prefer using a chopper or electric food processor to speed up the process. The key is to pound it until it reaches a semi-coarse texture — not too mushy, yet not too chunky.
4. Balancing Salty, Spicy, Sour, and Sweet
The hallmark of an excellent belacan chilli? It has to be perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
It is vital to get the proper ratio of sugar to counteract the sour lime juice, salt to introduce a delectable sense of umami, and spice to add complexity and heat. Our well-balanced belacan chilli goes beautifully with nasi lemak rice and adds a savouriness that will tantalise the taste buds!
Give Our Signature Belacan Chilli a Try Today
Nothing compares to Lavender Nasi Lemak’s signature belacan chilli! We have perfected our recipe for an exquisitely balanced chilli that we make fresh in-house. It goes perfectly with our blue pea rice and range of unique side dishes such as sambal prawn and chilli fish. Try it for yourself by visiting our outlet at Yishun Blk 504 or order it online and get delicious nasi lemak and belacan chilli delivered to your doorstep today.