Dry Sambal with Peanuts and Anchovies

This dry sambal with peanuts and anchovies is a hot and crunchy little number, full of umami notes to jazz up even the most boring of meals.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Dry Sambal with Peanuts and Anchovies
Dry Sambal with Peanuts and Anchovies

Dry Sambal Recipe

This is going to be a pretty short post, and there isn’t a whole lot to it. There are only a small number of ingredients, with the steps broken up into a few parts.

This is what we’ll be doing:

  1. Soak the dried chillies.
  2. Chop up the chillies with the onion and garlic into a paste.
  3. Fry the anchovies. (I’m using ready salted and roasted peanuts, otherwise frying the peanuts will be the next step).
  4. Cook the chilli paste for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the peanuts and anchovies and heat through your dry sambal for 1 minute. That’s it.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients we’ll need.

Dry Sambal with Peanuts and Anchovies on a spoon
the anchovies and the peanuts are equally important

Ingredients for this Dry Sambal

Dried Red Chillies

You can use whatever dried red chillies you like or can get your hands on, as long as they are not the smoky kind. So, no chipotle chillies. I know LinsFood readers on the other blog love chipotles!

I am using a combination of Kashmiri chillies and some generic Sichuan chillies. Naturally, the hotter your chillies, the hotter your cooked dry sambal.


I am using peanuts that have already been roasted and salted, because I always have them at home. So I thought I’d save me some time! Like this one on Amazon (affiliate link).

If you prefer to use raw peanuts, then all you have to do, is fry them in the oil, before you fry the anchovies, in step 2. And don’t forget to add a little salt too, to the dry sambal. Not too much, as the anchovies are salty.

Ikan bilis, dried anchovies
Ikan bilis

Dried Anchovies (Ikan Bilis in Malay)

Dried anchovies are a staple in many parts of East and South East Asia. If you are from that part of the world, you’ll be familiar with them. But if you’re not, I’ve been told by bacon eating friends that fried anchovies remind them of crispy fried bacon! They are both full of umami!

Dried anchovies are just small anchovies that have been air dried, resulting in a very concentrated, salty and fishy flavour. They also come in various sizes. You should be able to find them easily at East Asian stores, or online, like these ones on Amazon.

If you can, try and find the ones that have already been gutted and cleaned because it’s a pain to do it yourself. For the amount here for our dry sambal, it took me 8 minutes (yes, I timed myself so I could tell you!). Unfortunately, these last couple of years, I’ve struggled to get the cleaned version.

How to Serve this Dry Sambal?

This dry sambal with peanuts and anchovies is a condiment to serve alongside rice, and perhaps even noodles. To me, it’s a rice accompaniment, whether that’s plain rice served with some soup or fried rice, but especially Nasi Lemak.

Nasi lemak is coconut rice, and this dry sambal would be the perfect sambal to serve alongside it, as it’s always eaten with a sambal and a few other sides. My nasi lemak recipe is still on LinsFood. Click here for the recipe.

Last night, we made some Asian style vegetable soup for dinner. And this dry sambal was just perfect to complete the meal, along with some rice. So, an example of how I would eat it:

  • Rice (plain, boiled, white or brown)
  • Some sort of soup like Corned Beef Stew or Bayam Masak Lemak
  • And today’s dry sambal
  • An omelette if you’re especially hungry

A pretty simple, rustic but very satisfying meal.

So there you have it. If you like your spicy condiments, you’ll love today’s dry sambal recipe! Shall we get cooking?

More Recipes to Enjoy

Bayam Masak Lemak (Spinach in Coconut Milk)
Bayam Masak Lemak is a quick and easy delicious Malay side dish of spinach cooked coconut milk, from Singapore and Malaysia.
Check out this recipe!
Spinach in coconut milk in blue bowl
Ayam Masak Merah (a Malay Red Chicken Curry)
Ayam masak merah recipe is a deliciously tangy and non spicy, Malay red chicken curry from Singapore and Malaysia.
Check out this recipe!
Ayam Masak Merah
Singapore Chilli Crab Recipe and Video
Ever wondered how to cook Singapore Chilli Crab? Here I show you how to cook this iconic recipe in your own home, with accompanying video.
Check out this recipe!
Singapore chilli crab in a oval plate with a bowl of rice and claypot in background

♥ If you like the recipe and article, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you! ♥

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

Dry Sambal with Peanuts and Anchovies

Dry Sambal with Peanuts and Anchovies

Azlin Bloor
Dry Sambal with Peanuts and Anchovies recipe. Perfect for jazzing up any East or South East Asian meal, Especially good with Nasi Lemak.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Soaking Time 20 minutes
Course Condiments
Cuisine Malay
Servings 8 (6-8, makes about 300g)
Calories 171 kcal


  • scissors
  • medium bowls
  • knife
  • chopping board
  • chopper
  • ladle
  • small saucepan, wok or frying pan


  • 30 g dried chillies non smoky
  • 1 medium onion about 120g pre peeled weight
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 100 g dried anchovies
  • 100 g pre roasted peanuts if buying raw, see post above or Notes, below
  • 60 ml vegetable oil or peanut oil
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • juice of ½ a lime or 2 calamansi limes (limau kasturi)
  • salt, if needed


Prep Work – Chillies, Onion and Garlic

  • Put the kettle on, then cut your dried chillies, with a pair of scissors, straight into a medium-sized bowl.
  • Pour the boiling hot water onto your cut chillies, cover with a plate, and leave to soak for 15 minutes. Now, get on with the other prep work.
  • At the end of the 15 minutes, drain the chillies in a colander and give them a quick rinse, shaking out the seeds. Place into the chopper.
  • Peel the onion and quarter it. Drop into the chopper.
  • Peel the garlic and drop into the chopper.
  • Chop the whole thing until you can a thick, fine paste. No need to add any water, as the onion should provide enough moisture.

Prep work – Peanuts and Anchovies

  • Measure out the peanuts.
    If not ready salted and roasted, fry in the oil for 2 minutes, over medium heat until lightly browned. Tip out onto a kitchen paper lined bowl. Reserve the oil.
  • Measure out the anchovies.
    If not already cleaned and gutted, do so now. Just pinch off the head and a little of the guts. It's a tiny fish, so you haven't got much to take off. Split the anchovies into 2 if you want, but this isn't always easy, so I leave it whole.
    Don't wash the dried anchovies.
  • Heat the oil (the same one as peanuts) and fry the anchovies on medium-low heat for 2 minutes until crispy. You may have to stop at 90 seconds, if they are quite brown already. This will depend on your heat.
  • Drain onto paper lined bowl. I just use the same bowl. Reserve the oil.

Making our Dry Sambal

  • Heat the same oil in the same pan you've been using over medium heat.
  • Remember our chilli, onion and garlic paste from earlier? Tip it into the hot oil (be careful) and stir. Cook this chilli paste for 20 minutes for the flavour to mature and deepen.
    As we are not using much oil here (compared to this Red Chilli Paste recipe on LinsFood), you'll probably have to add a little water when it gets too dry.
    The end result wants to be a dry sambal, so not too much, start with 60ml (¼ cup) and see how it goes.
  • When your sambal is done and pretty dry, push it to one side of the pan and sprinkle the sugar on the clear end. Leave the sugar be for 1 minute, just to melt a little and take on some caramel notes. Then stir it all in.
  • Tip in the peanuts and anchovies and give it all a good stir and heat through for 1 minute. Check seasoning, and sprinkle some salt if you think it needs it.
  • Take it off the heat and stir in the lime juice.
  • Store in a clean jar. It will keep on the counter for 2 days and in the fridge for 5.


Calories: 171kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 5gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 96mgPotassium: 202mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 998IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 22mgIron: 1mg
Keyword hot, sambal, spicy
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