The Sambel Cap Jempol Company out of Jakarta, Indonesia, makes one of my favorite sauces at the moment. I picked up a bottle of their Sambel Asli at a local Asian grocer on a whim. Why? It was a big bottle (why must all hot sauces be sold in such teeny little bottles?); it didn’t cost very much; the texture and color looked appealing; the ingredients list was short; and I was intrigued by the idea of trying something from Indonesia. That first bottle disappeared before I could write a review so this actually a review of the second. The sauce has good pepper flavor, not too much salt, and is thick with peppers (and not thickeners). It’s a shaking sauce, and not a pouring sauce, due to the thickness. Unlike some sauces you can use it both both Asian, Mexican, or Indian cuisine without getting clashing flavors. My biggest gripe with the sauce is the absolutely crummy cap on the bottle. The cap doesn’t seal tightly enough to keep liquid from leaking out, so if the bottle tips in the fridge you will have a mess to clean up. In addition, the sauce always gets stuck in the lid so you quickly end up with a messy bottle even if you keep it upright.
Should you buy this sauce? If you enjoy hot sauces, I would definitely recommend adding it to your arsenal. The heat isn’t for the faint of heart, but the flavor is good, the bottle size is right, and you can’t beat the price. Just watch out for the godawful cap.