Sambal Oelek is an Asian chili paste made and marketed by a Chinese American producer in California (Huy Fong Foods, with a rooster on the jar). I've been using it as an ingredient in mie goreng, the Indonesian fried-noodles dish.

The name "Sambal Oelek" on the jar doesn't carry a trademark symbol, so I don't know if it's a generic name or a brand name.

Everything about it - the recipe, this product, and my satisfaction with this dish - is perfect, except that I don't know how to pronounce it.

  • Sambal oelek is just crushed peppers for the most part. It's the starting point for most other sambals. Of course, the only place that I've managed to find others in the US are Trader Joe's (only one type which is too oily for me) and a German deli near Liberty, Maine. (Can't remember the town, I stopped on the way back from a wedding). I typically go with a Chinese chili garlic paste in place of sambal when I make Nasi Goering
    – Joe
    Jan 14, 2018 at 16:13

1 Answer 1


Sambal Oelek is not tied to any producer or manufacturer. Oelek is a word indicating something was processed in a pestle and mortar, and refers to the mortar (if memory serves).

"Oelek" is the Dutch spelling for "Ulek", and the "u" is pronounced as the "u" in "bull", corresponding to the diphthong "oe" in Dutch.

  • Is it then Sambal Oelek or Sambal Ulek?
    – Alchimista
    Jan 15, 2018 at 10:43
  • 1
    @Alchimista: Neither. Both. Anything. It's (I'm not a linguist, forgive me), an Indonesian word. Dutch colonizers took it home, and wrote down what they heard in the alphabet they knew. If you prefer to call it Frobsy Snollock, go ahead. I'm quite sure Indonesians won't mind. Jan 15, 2018 at 15:56
  • I was wondering how to pronounce bull at the end. Doesn't matter
    – Alchimista
    Jan 15, 2018 at 15:58
  • 1
    Duhuh, you pronounce the "u" in "bull" like the "u" in sambal "ulek". Jan 15, 2018 at 16:02

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