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.

And one more flavor match: Lamb and Mint with Raisin Red Chard

Since I appear to be on a flavor match kick, we might as well go for one more: lamb and mint.  I don’t know why the two go together.  Maybe the little lamb like to feast on wild mint, or maybe they tend to have halitosis and mint takes care of that, but regardless, on the plate, lamb and mint just work.

For dinner last night I picked up these beautiful rib loin chops from New Zealand (I know, local is best, tsk tsk, but whatever. The New Zealanders have some tasty sheep).  I also have some pineapple mint growing nicely in a pot that was crying out to be used.  I hadn’t heard of pineapple mint either but it tastes like mint and smells like pineapple, which is where I guess they get the name.  I made a quick infused oil with the mint, and a special dry rub to complement the mint oil for the lamb.  Big N plopped the chops on the barbecue so I could get working on the chard.  For the red chard, I added raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and balsalmic vinegar to my saute.  The sweetness of the raisins went well to balance out the mint on the lamb.  For vino we served it with Babcock’s Nucleus Bordeaux blend from Santa Rita Hills area of Santa Barbara County.  Spicy, with boysenberry and violet on the nose, this was the perfect match for the minty lamb.

Another scrumptious meal, made even more special with some good wine.  (See my recipes for lamb with mint and raisin red chard below.



Lamb loin chops with mint infused oil

Serves 2
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Meal type Main Dish


  • 7 Lamb loin or rib chops
  • 1-2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon Ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper (Freshly ground)
  • 2 tablespoons Mint (Finely chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive or grape seed oil


1. Make spice rub by combining spices and stirring together.
2. Rub over the lamb and let sit for 20 minutes.
3. In a small dish, add mint and a little kosher salt to the oil and let sit.
4. Grill lamb until done. Let rest for a few minutes.
5. Serve lamb topped with mint infused oil.

Red Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Serves 2
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Meal type Side Dish


  • 1 Red Chard
  • 1/8 cup Raisins
  • 2 tablespoons Pine Nuts
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar


1. Cut chard stems into 1 inch pieces. Cut remaining leaves into 1 inch ribbons.
2. Toast pine nuts but placing in the bottom of a dry pan heated over a medium flame. Toast until fragrant, stirring every couple of minutes, about 4 minutes total.
3. Remove pine nuts and add a little oil to pan. When hot, saute chard stems, about 4 minutes.
4. Add leaves, raisins, and garlic.
5. Season with salt and a little pepper and cover. Simmer over low heat 6-10 minutes until tender. Add 1 T water if necessary to prevent burning.
6. Uncover, add vinegar and pine nuts. Serve.