Sambal Arrabbiata

In all fairness I owe a lot of what’s written to my brother, Sean. He’s basically my 24/7 hotline for bouncing recipe ideas off of someone, and getting editing suggestions. Sometimes he’ll even blurt out, “you know what would be cool…,” and then hit me with some nifty idea that I try and work up. This was one of those times.

He threw the idea of putting sambal in arrabiata sauce. For those of you who don’t know arrabiata is a pasta sauce that consists of tomato, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. That’s it. I tried making this with just subbing out the chili for sambal and it was fine, there just wasn’t any magic.

Then I decided to add a couple of flavor friends, fish sauce for salty funk and ginger for extra pep in my step, and the flavor profile felt full and packed with umami.


  • 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Sambal to your taste, but if you don’t put at least 4 tbsp in I miiiiiight judge you.
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • Cooked pasta of your choice

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and both forms of ginger. Saute until fragrant, about a minute.

Add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sambal, and fish sauce and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low to simmer. Allow the sauce 25-30 minutes to simmer. Season to taste and toss in your favorite pasta. That’s literally it.

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