Well, well…look at that… finally this humble sambal called Sambal Hitam is now the official sambal of Pahang, as declared by the HM Tengku Puan Pahang, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah. The black sambal is due to the use of belimbing buluh/Averrhoa bilimbi. This fruit is essential to the making of this spicy sambal. There is no water involved at all when “cooking” the belimbing buluh. The fruit is washed, placed in a pot on top of small fire and left to dehydrate from its own juice for at least 6 to 7 hours. A kilo of belimbing buluh will only yield about a cup of the dehydrated version. It is indeed a long process and it is not even halfway yet!
The other essential ingredients are dried anchovies, bird’s eye chilis, onions and some oil for frying.
For me the sambal hitam serves as a base for several kampung dishes that I cook. For instance, the sambal kulat sisir has the sambal hitam used as the base sambal. The add-ons are the kulat sisir and petai (stinky beans). Kulat sisir, by the way is a variety of mushroom/fungus which thrives well on dead rubber tree trunks. Before cooking, you need to wash it thoroughly to get rid of the grit that got trapped in between the “combs”. The effective way I have used is to soak the mushroom in a bowl of salted water for about 15-20 minutes.