Jar of hot sauce spilling into a bowl
The Difference Between Sambal Oelek And Sriracha Chili Sauces
The world is full of hot sauces, including sriracha and sambal oelek, two Asian chili sauces that are fairly similar but vary in flavor notes and texture.
Sambal oelek is a thicker condiment made from fresh red chili peppers, ground together with salt and vinegar to create a thick, fiery paste with flecks of chili seeds.
Since each brand uses a different variety of chilis — including red jalapeños, Thai chilies, and Fresno chilies — the sauce can range in spiciness.
Originating from Indonesia, sambal oelek is great for adding heat and chili flavor to a dish, and if you can’t find a brand you enjoy, you can make a batch at home with a blender.
Sriracha is sambal oelek’s better-known cousin, composed of spicy chilis with garlic and sugar blended into a smooth liquid and fermented for an acidic umami dimension.
Originating in Si Racha, Thailand, the sauce balances heat with sweet, sour, and salty flavors to create a milder sauce that’s less spicy than the average jalapeño pepper.
The sauce is a bit more labor intensive to make, requiring more ingredients and time to properly ferment, blend, and strain it until you reach the proper consistency.