SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

April 7, 2011

Sambal belacan is a super spicy dip

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 12:37 am

Is been almost 3 months I did not make a post on my blog. Not that anyone would really care though…LOL. I’ve been busy on working some projects for clients and did not find the time to travel as much as I would like. I’m still in the Philippines and hope to get back into making more posts.

So here is a post on how to make “Sambal Belacan”. Is a kind of spicy dip similar to Thai’s version of spicy dip call “Namprik”. Sambal Belacan is mostly popular in Singapore and Malaysia among the Malays. The Malays usually eat Sambal Belacan with fried chicken, fish, seafood and raw vegetables.


  • One small piece of belacan ( refer to picture below )
  • One pack of bird’s eye chili ( cili padi )
  • 6 pieces of bell pepper ( no big red chili in the Philippines )
  • one onion roasted lightly
  • salt ( one teaspoon )
  • sugar ( one teaspoon )
  • 6 kalamansi
  • fish sauce ( patis ) – 1 teaspoon


  • chopped bell pepper to blending size ( throw seeds away )
  • remove stem from bird’s eye chili
  • cut kalamansi into halves and squeezed juice and set aside
  • shred kalamansi skin to smaller bits
  • roast belacan till dry and fragrant
  • roast onion lightly
  • put everything into blender and add little bit of water together with the kalamansi juice that was set aside ( too much water will affect the taste of sambal belacan )
  • press start and blend ingredients till paste like
  • done!

The Ingredients for Sambal Belacan

Roasting the belacan with low fire

Roasting the onion

My favorite part - ready to grind

Everything blended

Glorious sambal belacan

For those who are not used to eating spicy food, Sambal Belacan might look like food for crazy people. In Malaysia and Singapore, this dip is almost like a must have. When I was in the midst of preparing this dip, I can’t help but to imagine who actually invented it. It really amazes me that the person whom invented this dip had the idea to mix all these ingredients. I am sure a lot of trial and error were involved to whip out the best tasting sambal belacan.

It has all the flavors that a human tongue can taste. Sourish from the kalamansi, spiciness from the chili, salt, sugar and belacan taste I can’t even really describe. In my own words, belacan smells like CRAP but taste like heaven. I have no idea why such food is loved by most Asian. In honesty, it does smell like socks that has been worn for 14 straight days.

Despite my description of how scary the smell of belacan, this dip is really a favorite among many Asians who are into spicy food. Is always good to have sambal belacan stored in the fridge. Comes in handy when you are just too lazy to cook or dunno what to eat. Just fry an omelet and serve it together with sliced cucumber or lettuce. I can bet you it will turn that simple meal into a really good one. Fried chicken and fish with turmeric  is also a good with sambal belacan. Basically you can eat it with almost anything. It sure makes eating Chow King’s blend pancit and fried rice a whole lot better.


August 6, 2010

Stuffed calamari recipe

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 12:37 pm

Few of the Tagalog words that I learned when I first arrived in the Philippines was Pancit and pusit. Pancit is easy for me to remember as it goes with another word Canton. I speak Cantonese so the word Pancit Canton easily stick to my mind. The other word Pusit ( squid or calamari ) sounds like Pancit. Sometimes I do get it mixed up and ended up calling the must have Filipino birthdays dish Pusit Canton. My Pinoy friends would  laughed at me and corrected my blunder.

One time when I was in a Chinese restaurant in Malate, I saw this calamari dish on the menu called Calamari with Salt and Pepper. Suddenly I have a feeling that I will never forget the Tagalog word for calamari. I just put the words “Pusit Some More” together as it reminded me of a popular 90’s song by Salt and Pepper “Push It Some More”. I am sure those of you who are actively involved in the disco scenes in the 90’s are hearing the tune in your head now.

Few weeks ago, I made a dish named Begedel and it gave me an idea to use part of the concept for my stuffed calamari dish. So here are the steps on how I made my calamari dish and I shall name it “Pusit Some More”.


  • half kilo of calamari/squid – clean it throughout and remove the head and set aside
  • one big potato – boil till soft
  • one small carrot – chopped fine
  • one onion – chopped fine
  • 6 spoonful of multi purpose flour
  • one big spoonful curry power
  • one teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup water
  • one egg
  • 2 sticks ( the type used for BBQ skewing )


  • Making the filling
  • Boil the potato till soft and mash it
  • add in chopped carrots and onion
  • add salt and pepper and mixed will
  • stuff the mixed potato filling into the body of the calamari. Make sure you stuff it real good by – Push It Some More ( I can’t resist…lol )
  • one is properly stuffed, put the squid head on top and seal it with the stick ( refer to picture above ) and set aside
  • Making the batter
  • put flour in a bowl
  • break an egg
  • add in curry powder, turmeric and water and mixed well – make sure it is evenly mixed and thick
  • Heat up oil for deep frying and soaked stuffed calamari in batter mixed
  • Fry till crunchy and golden brown

The Filling – mash potato with carrot and onion

Batter mixed with turmeric and curry powder

Stuffed Calamari ready to be soaked into batter and fry

My Pusit Some More

The hardest part for me when making this dish was stuffing the filling into the slippery calamari. I have to admit that this is my first attempt in making this dish. The result was pretty good but I wouldn’t rate this as my best dish on first attempt. My batter wasn’t thick enough and it did not really coat the calamari as much as I would like it to. Maybe I should have dried the calamari by covering it with very thin layer of flour to make it dry. I am sure my second attempt would be better and I can get 3 different kind of texture from this dish. Crunchiness from the batter, spongy and rubbery from the calamari and soft and easy from the mash potato. The curry powder will give a very nice taste to this Pusit Some More dish.

August 1, 2010

This is my Chili Prawns

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 8:52 am

Singapore folks had a debate a while back. The topic was about which food should be the national food. Tussle between to dishes to be crown as Singapore National Food was Chicken Rice and Chili Crab. At the end of the day, Chili Crab took the converted title.

After Chili Crab was crowned, then another debate soon followed. Which stalls actually serve the best Chili Crab. In my personal opinion, is hard to tell which stall or restaurant serves the best Chili Crab. Firstly, you have to eat in all of the restaurants before you can judge. Then the factors of your own personal taste such as some like it really spicy and some don’t. Well, I think the reason people debate on this matter is because there’s nothing much to argue about when you having beer with your friends. So I would say is just an argument for the sake of argument.

I have no idea why it is named Chili Crab in the first place when tomato puree is a big part of the ingredient. I am not going to start another debate on why it is named Chili Crab instead of “Tomato Crab With Some Chili In It”. The stall that I frequent often for my Chili Crab is No Sign Board restaurant in Geylang. Is not that they have the best Chili Crab in the world but I love their White Pepper Crab dish instead. So I just order the Chili Crab there out of convenience, but the taste is quite good too.

So now I am in the Philippines with no Sri Lankan crab, I have to resort to making Chili Prawns instead. I’ve bought some crab from the alimango seller on the road side. Looks like Sri Lankan crab but not much meat under the shell. So the best option is to use prawns. Enough ramblings and on to my version of Chili Prawns.


  • 500 gm prawns cleaned ( leave shell and head intact )
  • 4 packets of McDo tomato sauce ( works to around 8 table spoons )
  • 4 table spoons of Maggi Chili Sauce
  • Half onion sliced
  • 4 clove garlic
  • one tea spoon black bean sauce
  • 2 chili labuyo ( more if you love spicy )
  • 1 cm ginger
  • one fresh tomato
  • one egg
  • one glass water
  • 2 teaspoon sugar ( less if do not like sweet )
  • salt to taste


  • Cook prawns in cooking oil till half cook and set aside
  • 5 spoonful cooking oil
  • sauteed garlic, ginger and onion
  • add chili and one teaspoon of black bean sauce
  • add in chili sauce and tomato sauce
  • mixed till fragrant and add salt to taste
  • add in sugar
  • add water
  • mixed and add in prawns and tomato
  • when prawn is cooked, off fire and break and egg
  • immediately transfer to serving plate as we want the egg to have gel effect and not lumpy

My Caucasian friend will definitely not enjoy this dish as the head of the prawn is still intact to the body. They think sucking on the head is gross but actually this is the best part of eating prawns to Asian. My advice to my Caucasian friends is, whenever you come to Asia to taste the food please leave out the eye sight sense. Just use the other senses like taste bud and smell.

This dish can actually serve with pandesal, french toast or better yet those fried buns you see in the Chinese restaurants in the Philippines. Normally people call it “Mantou” but I not sure what they call it here. But suggesting to Filipino to eat a dish with a lot of sabaw (sauce) with bread is kinda crazy idea. They will surely tell me is sayang (wasted) if you do not eat dishes with a lot of sauce with rice. Sige…sige…kanin na nga. Ikaw bahala.

July 28, 2010

Bihun Hailam

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 12:24 am

I was really happy last night that my version of Bihun Hailam coz it tasted really good. I dunno what I did but it has the “spicegasm” effect ( I’m trying to actually make spicegasm into a real word ). Actually this is a Malay dish. I have no idea what Hailam means and I never bothered to find out. All I know is when the word Hailam is associated with Mee ( Pancit ), Bihun or Kway Teow ( flat rice noodles ), it is a noodle dish with thick black sauce and often spicy.

I think if we use  Yellow Egg Noodles instead of Bihun, it will taste better. Bihun tend to suck all the gravy and makes the dish a little bit dry. Since Yellow Egg Noodles at my nearby sari sari store is not available, I opted to use Bihun instead. So let me share with you my version of Bihun Hailam.


  • 250 gm of Bihun soak in water till soft and drain
  • Chinese cabbage ( you can put more if you like vegetables )
  • Tahong ( mussels ) – boil and remove from shell
  • one chicken breast cut into small pieces
  • squid or prawn
  • 3 table spoon dark soy sauce
  • one table spoon oyster sauce
  • one table spoon light soy sauce
  • 3 clove garlic – crush
  • one small onions sliced thinly
  • chili labuyo 2 ( put more if you like it spicy ) – pounded till paste like
  • 3/4 liter water
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • corn starch one teaspoon


  • heat up 5 table spoon cooking oil
  • saute garlic till fragrant
  • add in sliced onion
  • add in chicken meat and sea food
  • add in chili paste
  • add in dark soy sauce and oyster sauce
  • add in light soy sauce
  • add salt
  • add in Chinese cabbage
  • add 3/4 liter of water
  • when gravy is mixed well – add in Bihun
  • cook till Chinese cabbage is slightly soft ( not to soft – need to maintain crunchiness )
  • add in corn starch to thicken the gravy
  • add pepper and ready to serve

As you can see I fried an egg and made is as garnishing. Actually I don’t really care bout the garnishing, I just love eating fried egg. You can also squeeze some calamansi on to your Bihun Hailam. If you remember, I made a dish call Pancit with dark soy sauce Hokkien Style. The ingredients used are almost the same, but what made Bihun Hailam different from it is the chili labuyo paste. Sometimes adding just one additional ingredient can really change the outcome of the dish. So if you love spicy noodles, this is one recipe that is easy to cook and all ingredients are easy accessible in the Philippines.

July 20, 2010

Beef meat Begedel

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 5:20 pm

I am running out of spices and looking forward for my trip to Singapore very soon. Need to go back and indulge myself with some hawker food that I missed dearly. Another reason is to stock up some spices for my future trips.

With the shortage of spices, I decided to make this dish call begedel that I think I can pull it off by cutting some corners and still make it taste decent. I have no idea what begedel is call in English and I am lazy to search in the Internet. So I will just give it an English name myself. Since this is my blog, I think I am entitle to do that. I shall call it Rounded Mash Potatoes Fritters with beef meat. There you go, begedel got a new English name. ( Pronounce as Burger Dell ). Begedel is a Malay dish and I’ve eaten it in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore as well.

Here is how I made my Rounded Mash Potatoes Fritters with beef meat ( Begedel ).


  • 100 gm beef meat – minced
  • 3-4 potatoes ( depends on size ) – peel and boil till soft
  • one small red onion – chopped fine
  • pepper and salt to taste
  • one egg
  • skyflakes biscuit one small packet packet
  • some multi purpose flour


  • Pound skyflakes to make it like bread crumbs
  • Mash the boiled soft potatoes
  • Add in beef meat and mix well
  • Add chopped onion
  • Add skyflakes powder
  • Break egg to mix
  • Add salt and pepper according to taste
  • Make round shape of mixtures and press slightly to make it like coin shape
  • Cover slightly with multi purpose flour ( put multi purpose flour on a plate and roll begedel mixture on it )
  • Heat up oil and fry till golden brown
  • Best to serve with Chili Sauce

Freshly fried begedel that is still pipping hot

Attempting to take a nice picture of a cracked open begedel to show the filling inside but fail miserably.

Even without some other spices like white cumin powder and cumin powder, the Begedel still taste pretty all right with onion, beef, salt and pepper. Fried food is always safe as it is universally accepted. Also the shape of my Begedel not as nice as the ones I had in Indonesia. This is because you need to practice all the time to make the shape nice and even. But I am happy with the result once again as I am not a trained chef.

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