Looking to slim down? A University of Adelaide study linking hot chili pepper receptors in the stomach with feelings of fullness may deliver a solution to the weight loss struggle. But if you're not keen on haphazardly garnishing portioned meals with raw chili peppers to test the study, a conveniently packaged, flavor-packed chili sauce could be the better option for incorporating heat into your daily diet. Don’t be so quick to grab the sriracha—there’s another "rooster sauce" in town courtesy of the same person who delivered that California-made wonder of condiments to our kitchens.
David Tran developed numerous chili sauces for his company, Huy Fong Foods, and sambal oelek is one of the three, along with sriracha and chili garlic sauce, the company continues to produce. Sambal oelek is a versatile, zero-calorie sauce that packs a punch when it comes to heat. Like sriracha, sambal oelek (which translates to ground chili) is gluten-free, vegan, and kosher, and while it's arguable whether one is hotter than the other, sambal oelek is labeled by Huy Fong as a sauce "for those who prefer a simpler taste."
Traditional sambal, used throughout Asia, comes in as many varieties as makers, combining a base of ground chilies with any combination of spices. The Huy Fong sambal oelek, made without additional spices and with a chunky texture is perfect in a cooking as well as condiment format.
Give it a shot–incorporate these healthy sambal oelek recipes into your weight loss plan.
Green Mango in Sambal, Bird Chili, and Soy Sauce
- 1 (unripe) green mango, cubed
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 Thai bird chili, finely chopped (with seeds)
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek
- Chop the green mango into bite-sized cubes. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, chili, and sambal oelek in a medium bowl.
- Toss the green mango in the sauce. Serve immediately or allow the mango to marinate for 30 minutes for a spicier experience.
Steak and Sambal Zucchini Noodle Stir-Fry
- 8 ounces skirt steak
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sambal oelek
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 2 cups zucchini noodles
- 1/2 cup red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 package brown beech mushrooms (or any mushroom of your preference)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- Bring steak to room temperature. Season steak on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Cook steak to medium rare and let rest. Whisk 1/4 cup water with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sambal oelek.
- Cut the steak into strips against the grain. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok on medium heat. Fry ginger and garlic until fragrant, but don’t let the garlic brown. Add zucchini noodles, bell peppers, and onions. Cook, tossing, for about 4 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and steak and continue stir-frying another 2 minutes. Add basil and stir-fry 1 minute. Serve.
DIY Sambal Oelek
This makes a small batch.
- 15 small dried chilis (like Tien Tsin or chile de arbol), stems removed
- 1 bird chili
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Soak the dried chilies in hot water for about 10 minutes. Remove the soaked chilies from the water, reserving the water, and grind with the bird chili, garlic, lime juice, and vinegar using a mortar and pestle or food processor. Add in some of the reserved chili water if the sauce looks too dry. Season with sugar and salt to taste.