Tomato and Lemongrass Sambal and…The Sting of Vanity

Earlier this week I walked in to my beautician’s shop hoping my favourite therapist, Rebecca, would be available to give me some long overdue maintenance.  Unfortunately Rebecca was booked out but while I was making an appointment for another time I noticed a sign saying ‘70% off IPL treatments’.

Tomato and Lemongrass Sambal

I’ve been wondering about permanent hair removal for a few years now and have friends who swear by it to the point I think they’re addicted to it and have had just about every area treated sparing only the hair on their heads.

And it’s just so hard to resist a bargain.

So I booked in for today.  I thought I’d tread cautiously though and not book in for any sensitive areas or large surface areas on my first visit.  Just the underarms for today.

Well Rebecca assured me that this was a great idea as she’s had her underarms done and the results are fantastic and it would only take half a dozen visits and then no more gorilla underarms.  I lay down on the bed and she gave me the glasses to wear over my eyes and she fired up the machine that was making some very worrying noises and then brought over the laser and pressed down on my underarm and zapped me.

Well give me the pain of childbirth any day.

I’ve had three children that I pushed out naturally and yes, not without screaming for drugs, it’s just when your doctor doesn’t turn up and your midwife leaves you on your own there’s no one to hear you yelling, ‘Drugs, give me the (insert your own adjective) drugs.’

But it’s not really appropriate to scream at the beauticians especially when the person in the next cubicle is trying to enjoy a soothing and relaxing massage.

So after the third or fourth zap I asked Rebecca if it was normal to feel like you’re being given an electric shock and that underneath the skin’s surface your arm is on fire.  She said, ‘Oh, you’re coping really well.  When I have mine done I scream and levitate off the bed.’

Now I would have preferred it if she had disclosed that little piece of information before firing me with the zapper.  That way I would know that what I was experiencing was very normal instead of lying there thinking the machine was malfunctioning and I was being electrocuted.

And why have my friends neglected to mention the burning and the shocking?  How is it they’ve been able to endure lengthy sessions covering broad masses of territory and having that zapper shoved into areas that are not only private but ultra sensitive.  They’ve almost referred to it as a pleasant day out which is highly confusing.

Maybe I’m just a woos.

Sadly, one treatment is not enough.  I’ve had to pay for another five.  One every month for the next five months.

After that, hairy armpits had better not be back in fashion.

I would love to know if you’ve had laser hair removal and did you enjoy the experience.

Having felt the sting of the laser, here is a recipe for a sambal that has a lot of chilli in it so you would think it would deliver a punchy sting but it doesn’t.  The sweetness of the palm sugar softens the sting of the chillies making this sambal pleasantly mild yet full of flavour.  It’s delicious served with barbequed meats and we enjoyed this sambal with lamb cutlets that had been lightly dusted with ground cumin and coriander.  The sambal is easy to make and takes no time at all.

Tomato and Lemongrass Sambal

Tomato and Lemongrass Sambal

Makes:  1 and half cups

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Half the price of buying a similar product and you get twice as much

  • 2 large red chillies, de-seeded and chopped
  • 2-4 small red chillies, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, bottom half only and outer leaves removed, then finely chopped
  • 2 tbspns vegetable oil
  • 2 tbspns sweet soy sauce (ketcap manis or Indonesian soy sauce)
  • 2 tbspns lime juice
  • 1 tbspn dark palm sugar
  • 4 ripe roma tomatoes, skins removed, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup water

In a mortar, combine the chillies, garlic and lemongrass.  Pound to a paste.

Heat the oil to medium in a saucepan and add the paste, frying gently for a few minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring well for about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl.

Keeps in the fridge for several weeks.

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe found in Essentially Thai.

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  1. You know I have been thinking of getting the treatment myself, my friend got done on her legs too… But now that you mentioned about the shocks n screams … I will be rethinking my friend…
    I have to Thank you for disclosing the reality, somehow my friend missed this part too….lol
    b/w the sambal sounds delicious….

  2. I think I’ll stick with my trusty razor thanks.

    I will be giving this sambal a go though. It sounds rather tasty.

  3. Err, try IPL on your face too close to sun exposure…looked like I had third degree burns for a week. Virtually unrecognisable and the pain was truly excruciating…yes childbirth preferable I agree!

    Sambal sounds lovely

  4. Charlie I feel like we are living parallel but slightly different lives. I almost lost half an eyebrow on bad IPL. I was so mad, in fact that’s the maddest I’ve been in a long time. Thankfully it grew back-after a long time!

  5. With childbirth, you have something to show for it. With hair removal, you have nothing to show for it. Ha ha.

    I had not heard of sambal. I learn so many things from your blog!

  6. Given the hair removal topic, I had to fast forward to the recipe. Hmmm … it may be a bit to hot for me. Then again, the hot and sweet combo may be ok for my tastes.

  7. The sambal looks amazing 🙂 I’ve never had lazer but I’ve been considering it but oh my gosh i never knew it was so painful! Please keep me updated because I’d love to know if it actually works ~ but the pain is a bit scary!

  8. Omg, I haven’t done this! I don’t think I can being blonde, but now I’m glad I haven’t! Yikes! Hilarious your offering a recipe that is hot yet has sweetness to take the “sting” out.. if only such a thing existed for your poor armpits:)

  9. useful recipe! I am going to make this, looks very tasty too. my dog finnished our lemongreass and so I ll have to see where to get it… =I
    thanks for sharing!

  10. OMG. Being a man I wasn’t sure if I should be laughing, feeling for your pain, or both (not that I’ve gone through any type of hair removal). I was reminded of Mel Gibson’s scene in “What Women Want” where he uses wax to remove his leg hair, and after feeling the pain of smoothness ponders why anyone would do that more than once. Next time you should demand a stiff drink during the procedure. 🙂

  11. thanks for disclosing that small bit of information haha. im glad i’m not a hairy person (i feel like it’s a little TMI haha) so as not to undergo that painful experience of yours.
    i love how easy it is to make this sambal. never used it before but now that you’ve mentioned it…hmmm i think i will!
    thanks for dropping by at my site. and i hope to see you around!

  12. I’ll stick with the razor as well. That sounds horribly painful. The sambal, looks very tasty.

  13. I was thinking about doing it myself but now… I’m not so sure!

  14. Oh dear, that sounds horrible! But, beauty is pain… I prefer a different kind of pain though – spice on my tongue from a delicious looking sambal like this one! What a great recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I used to use an epilady on my legs to snatch out the hair. I thought It wasn’t bad, but not one of my friends could endure it. Not sure what that was, but legs aren’t as sensitive as underarms…not to mention more private areas. A bikini wax might be the most extreme I can manage. But I do think I’ll give this sambal a go–I love the combination of tomato and lemongrass.

  16. It’s been a while but here I am! I laughed with your adventurous day, I’ve never had laser hair removal although it will be a great solution on armpits.. But I’m having second thoughts now that I read your post!
    I love the Tomato and Lemongrass Sambal and it looks pretty easy to make!

  17. Looks delicious. Great post!

  18. Wine! What wine would go well with hair removal and sambal? Red. Next time, get snookered before you go so the torture hurts less, then come home and have more with your sambal.

  19. Hmm, tell you what, if your underarms stay nice and smooth after all the treatments, I may rethink the idea – I like to believe I have always had a high pain threshold.
    As for the sambal, well that just sounds heavenly!
    🙂 Mandy

  20. The sambal sounds delicious, and I cant say the same about the lazer treatment….. no you wont catch me doing that. Hope you look gorgeous soon( wave a lot)

  21. I think you have convinced me never to try laser hair removal! Between the pain of it, and a friend of mine who had a freak reaction that left her legs burned for weeks, there’s no way I’m submitting myself to that!

  22. I’ll stick to my epi lady thanks, thats painful enough. I do have some morphine tablets left though, so maybe thats an option Charlie? Did you not think there was a reason the treatments were so cheap?
    My friend bought a hair removal device that pulled out the hairs, and started on her bikini line….. Unfortunately she became a bit too ambitious and, lets just say….. Hair wasn’t the only thing the device latched onto! I think she still has PTS syndrome over it 😮
    I love the sound of this sambal,all the flavours I adore, yumm!

  23. I know absolutely nothing of the hair removal process other than if I walked into one such salon, the owner would call her/his oldest child and say that its college tuition just walked through the door. I, also, know nothing of a sambal but at least it is something I’d be willing to try. 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That is so funny John! I laughed out loud when I read this. Yes, they women who work in these salons really do seem to rejoice when they stumble across a hairy customer!

  24. Your stories make me glad to be a dude 😀

    Lovely looking sambal – I’m glad you gave a serving suggestion, I’d have been a bit stumped on how to serve it otherwise :D… it looks a bit like chutney, I’d probably have served it with a sandwich 😀

  25. Sounds so quick and easy to make!

    I heard similar stories about that on the weekend. A friend said she thought it was the most painful thing she’s ever experienced. Good luck for the rest of the treatments!

    I had the veins on my legs injected (they’re rather ugly and I wanted to get rid of them). The doctor told me it wouldn’t hurt a bit but oh boy I nearly kicked the needle-wielding (naughty word) in the face!

  26. I’ve never tasted sambal, but yours sounds as delicious as the hair zapping sounds horrible! I had a hair zapper for legs once…decided I’d rather be hairy.

  27. Ouch. I thought laser was painless. I’ve had electrolysis and that was a ltlle painful.

  28. I love your stories Charlie. I’ve never tried a Sambal before but I do love lemon grass.
    This type of hair removal in Toronto is extremely expensive. My girlfriends have paid in excess of $3,000 for full legs. I simply cannot allow that kind of expenditure (to be honest, I’d rather go on vacation). I have, however, since my late teens never touched a razor to my skin! I use the Epilady depilatory device. Yes, the first few (hundred) times hurt, but now it’s so easy. The hair is very light and frankly has not grown back in the enormous thickness that I’ve been blessed with as an Eastern European Woman! It is a far less expensive alternative. Plus, both GFs who’ve had it done have to shave every now and then!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Eva, yes, it has been very expensive here and that’s why I’ve never had it done. But at 70% off I thought I’d give it a try. I’ll do the laser for my underarms but that will be all. After that I’ll just stick to waxing. Much less painful! I can’t believe your GFs still have to shave. What a disgrace after all that expense.

  29. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Can’t believe you booked in for more pain!

  30. You’re very brave to continue with it, no way I would after that experience. I’ll stick to the sambal, it looks great and not something Ive ever made.

  31. I was told that it isn’t in fact permanent, so all the pain and then they come back… one of the many interesting things about getting old (cough) is that once you go through the menopause your hair patterns change, so you grow hair on your face (testosterone taking over) and lose hair elsewhere until, if you make it to your eighties, you have very little body hair left. Hey ho, isn’t life wonderful 😀 The few times I have tried anything that involved pulling the hair out by the roots, it all grew back under the skin like so many ants and the itch was terrible, and yes I did exfoliate and it made not the blindest bit of difference.

    Sambal ? Oh yes please!

  32. You tell such a good story! I’m NOT ever going to have my hair removed that way. Can’t even face it!!

  33. I am about half way through my treatments of getitng my underarms zapped. I don’t find it too painful, just a small jolt that is gone in milliseconds. Can’t wait to ditch the razor!

  34. Well dang, you’ve ruined it for me now! One of my sisters (the one who likes me the least, but I just now put this all together) has been recommending this to me for a couple of years. I was going to start with my lower legs, but now I am definitely sticking with the razors. Geez!

    Sambal looks great – to eat on corn chips or something of the sort?

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