The Best Condiment To Spice Up Your Burgers

There are just some food pairings that are a match made in heaven, like milk and cookies, peanut butter and jelly, and of course, burgers and condiments. The sky's the limit when crafting your own burger, and many enthusiasts love traditional toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, cheese, and onions. Or, you could opt for the breakfast route by incorporating hash browns or a fried egg on top of the patty, as well as adding a spoonful of guacamole or chopped green chilies for a Southwestern flair.

Many chefs are also known for adding just about anything to a burger to make it stand out, such as pop tarts, cheerios, popcorn, and even whole pancakes, according to The Daily Mail. But one type of burger that is a little more uncommon is a spicy burger with an Asian twist. In fact, there's one type of condiment that is the absolute best for spicing up your burgers, and it hails from the faraway lands of Indonesia (per Serious Eats).

It's a type of chili paste

Sambal Oelek, as Serious Eats puts it, is mainly comprised of salt and red chili peppers, and is used not only in Indonesia, but in Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka as well. Home cooks and culinary enthusiasts around the world add this bright red sauce to Asian dishes like chicken fried rice and chicken satay, but Martha Stewart's website also suggests using it on chicken drumsticks, in soups, margaritas, and of course, in burgers. In fact, Ms. Stewart shares her "extra-special sauce" recipe for burgers, which consists of an Asian chili sauce, like Sambal Oelek, as well as ketchup, mayo, and a little bit of pickle juice. (You could certainly add a heaping spoonful of this sauce as is on a burger patty.)

But what's so special about this condiment when all you're tasting is mashed-up red chili peppers and salt (as well as the possible additions of vinegar, onions, lemon juice, and sugar, per Sriracha2Go)? Bon Appétit explains that Sambal Oelek is reminiscent of fresh chilis which gives it that intense flavor. Pepper Scale agrees with this statement as well, further emphasizing that the thickness of the sauce and the aesthetics of the seeds make it stand out in the world of hot sauces and chili pastes.

A little goes a long way with Sambal Oelek and it will add a punch of spice and umami flavors to not just a burger, but almost any dish you want.