Malay Meets China, Assam Heh & Nasi Lemak

WP_20150201_17_07_35_ProThe urge for something tasty, I ended up driving to our local Oriental Supermarket and sought out some appropriate ingredients, such as Pandan Leaves (also known as screwpine), Thai Birds Eye Chilli’s, and some massive Prawns, the dish is called Assam Heh, or Nyonya Prawns!

This tasty number gets it roots from a mix of two cultures, China and Malay who merged through the 15-17th Centuries.  The cuisine is often referred too using the term Nyonya, which apparently means ‘women’.

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The Prawns need marinading in a mixture as follows;

  1. 3 Tbsp Tamarind Concentrate
  2. 1 Tbsp Kecap Manis
  3. 1 Tsp Palm Sugar
  4. 1 Tsp Sea Salt
  5. 1 Tsp Muntok White Pepper

I had removed the shell of the Prawns but left the head on, removing the long tentacles and legs to neaten them up. Marinade for a least 1 1/2 hours in the fridge to let the Prawns soak up the flavours.

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After marinading, the Prawns just need to be fried on both sides, on a really high heat with a good glug of the marinade to cover them and make them sticky and yummy!

The accompaniment for this treat is Nasi Lemak, a Rice dish cooked in Coconut Milk and Pandan Leaves, which is served with a Boiled Egg per person, some Cucumber, some roasted Peanuts and a couple of Sambal’s or relishes, to add more intense heat and flavour.

WP_20150201_19_13_44_ProI had some Jasmine Rice in the cupboard, and just followed the instructions on the packet, substituting Coconut Milk for Water, and adding 3 Pandan Leaves to the pot, you can see them above nestling away!

WP_20150201_20_02_50_ProThe other elements were in part, a cheat. I had some Sambal Oelek (you CAN find it in supermarkets) and bought some Sambal Ikan Bilis (which has anchovies in it), boiled a couple of Eggs, roasted some Peanuts, and scooped out the centre of 1/2 a cucumber after running a peeler along the outside 4 times leaving a gap between each to create a light and dark green pattern, you can see it in the finished dish.

The only critical thing to watch is timing, making sure the cooking of the rice is timed to the cooking of the Prawns. The dish is quite straightforward but absolutely delicious to eat, if you don’t have the confidence to try some of the more challenging dishes on my blog, this one is easy, you can google the Sambal names and  find recipes to make your own if you have the time.

WP_20150201_20_04_31_ProThe finished dish presents very well, I finely chopped a Thai Birds Eye Chilli and scattered on top of the Rice, which was moulded in a small round souffle dish before turning onto the plate

That’s it for this time, next is a quick Breton sweet dish that is really delicious to eat and a couple of restaurant reviews.

Till next time……………L8ers………..

Kroeung (រឿង) – A quick trip to Cambodia (Again)!

WP_20140921_15_50_06_ProThis blog maybe becoming a ‘sorry’ site, with probably too many apologies for staying in particular regions of the world. So far we have been to Lebanon and the Middle East a fair bit, interspersed with Spain, Mexico and more recently the lands in Asia, which are particularly fragrant.

In my last post I promised to move away, but just could not resist one last recipe, and another tasty curry from the land of the Khmer.

Khmer, or Cambodian, is the language of the Khmer people and the official language of Cambodia. With approximately 16 million speakers, it is the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language (afterVietnamese). This dish can be found in Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey and as is usual, for me at least is an excuse to visit the local Asian Supermarket for fresh and unusual ingredients.

WP_20140921_16_01_44_ProThe 1st task is to create the Khmer ‘Kroeung’, or spice paste. The main components of this amazing mix  are Lemongrass, Shallots, Garlic, Chilli’s, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Galangal, FRESH Turmeric and Shrimp paste. The Turmeric was a new one for me, fresh, is more earthy and less vibrant to look at before cooking, compared to the powder form.

WP_20140921_16_37_34_ProPurists might opt for a pestle and mortar and pound each element to a smooth paste, I cheated and whizzed it in a small food processor designed for these type of tasks. A little water and sunflower oil helped the paste on its way, you can see the finished results above.

WP_20140921_16_32_48_ProThe protein for this dish was boneless pork shoulder, from our favourite Casey Fields Farm shop, those lads do an awesome job with their meat. Also needed will be Thai Aubergines (the little green beasties above, about the size of a golfball), a fresh Coconut, Tamarind, Fish Sauce, Palm Sugar, Coconut Milk and Thai Basil.WP_20140921_18_30_13_ProOnce browned in some oil, the Pork needs slowly simmering in the spicy mix with some water to slacken it a little, about 1 hour should do it. The mix then needs reducing a bit and the rest of the ingredients are added. The smell filling the kitchen was amazing.

WP_20140921_19_49_27_ProThe finishing touches include the freshly grated Coconut, I used the water from the Coconut to help slacken the mixture and add more flavour, the Fresh Pineapple which is cut into 1 inch chunks and Red Kampot Pepper (from Cambodia)!. The dish was served with some wilted Pak Choi, and plain Rice (and a delicious Riesling)!

WP_20140921_20_18_13_ProI will try and keep my promise this time, this is the last Far Eastern dish for a while. It’s worth hunting out the ingredients as the taste is stunning, creamy, rich, hot and very tasty. If you google Khmer Pork Curry with Pineapple & Coconut you will find a variety of recipes, better still, buy Rick’s book as there are loads of other delights to try, it’s a worthwhile investment if you like this kind of food.

Until next time…………….L8ers…………