Let it marinate: Skirt Steak with Sambal marinade

Sambal badjak marinade A little while back Big N received a unique gift: a jar of Netty’s Sambal Badjak.  I consider myself well versed in international cuisine but had never heard of such a thing.  Apparently the person who gave it to him bought it from his neighbor, little old Netty herself.  After a little research (thank you Wikipedia), I discovered that sambal, a chili sauce with lots of variations depending on the region where it’s made, is a popular condiment in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia.

The paste itself resembles your ordinary chili paste often seen in plastic jars with mini spoons on the tables of your neighborhood Chinese restaurants, right next to the hot mustard.  But in my sambal the addition of shrimp paste and onions gave this sauce a pungency that sets it apart from other chili sauces.  Now I had to figure out how to use my sambal and settled on an Asian marinade for skirt steak.

The marinade was easy enough to put together with items I had in the pantry, marinade recipe below (feel free to substitute Sriracha Rooster Sauce or your favorite chili sauce if you aren’t lucky enough to be a friend of a friend of Netty herself), but I was short on time.  I only had about 2 hours to marinate my steak before dinner.  Turns out it didn’t matter one bit.  The citrus in the marinade helped penetrate my steak in no time.

Skirt steak with sambal badjak marinade

When Big N pulled our steak off the grill the aroma of toasted sesame and savory soy sauce filled our dining room.  The steak was tender and juicy and the marinade gave it a delightful spicy kick that shook up my palate.  Skirt steak isn’t all that exciting unless it’s enhanced with a good marinade, and this one quickly became my new favorite.  I paired my steak with sauteed spinach and orzo with peas and grilled corn.

Netty has a winner here.  Next I’m going to try her Sambal Badjak on shrimp.  I hear that’s the way Emeril likes his Sambal.

Sambal Badjak Marinade

Serves 4
Prep time 30 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Region Indonesian


  • 1-2 tablespoon Chili paste (Sambal, Sriracha, or Thai Chili Paste, to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons Sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup Soy sauce
  • 1 Orange (Scrape the zest, then add all the juice)
  • 2 cloves Garlic (Minced)
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger (Minced fresh is best, or 1 1/2 tsp of ground ginger if desired)


  • 1 teaspoon Fish sauce (Found in Asian grocery stores, stinky stuff, use sparingly)


Makes enough marinade for 1 1/2 pounds of steak or shrimp.


1. Whisk liquid ingredients together.
2. Add orange zest, minced garlic and ginger. Whisk.
3. Marinate meat for 2-8 hours, shrimp for 1-2 hours. If you’re going to marinate overnight, decrease soy sauce a little to prevent over salting of meat.


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