Saturday, July 24, 2010
I love spicy dishes, and I was really eager to try out this sambal dish. It's from one of Singapore’s leading authorities on food - Violet Oon, and I knew it would be scrummy.
Now, this was actually a Sambal Sotong (squid) dish. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any sotong at the market that morning, so I used fresh prawns instead. They work great too! Coincidentally, we had cool, rainy weather that day and that just made this dish even more delicious to dig into. I slurped up every drop of the yummy gravy. It was so, so good. :)
I know some people prefer to shell the prawns and only keep the tails on, probably for easy and dainty eating. But for home cooking, I like to keep the shells on (although I remove the heads) because it keeps the prawns from over-cooking, somewhat. Besides, peeling the shells and sucking them dry of the sambal gravy makes eating this dish all the more hearty! Now, THAT'S finger lickin' good. ;)
The marriage of spices like chillies and lemon grass with the creamy flavour of coconut milk is what makes Malay food so attractive to the palate. Well, here's how you do it, with prawns.
- 500g prawns, with shells on (I used 300g)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 300g grated coconut, squeezed for thick cream (about 1/4 to 2/3 cup), or use coconut milk from packets or cans (I used about 1/2 cup coconut cream from a packet)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon assam pulp (tamarind)
- 1/4 cup water
- 5 buah keras, aka candlenuts (if you don't have candlenuts, use macademias)
- 10 fresh red chillies
- 1 stalk serai (lemon grass), use only the bottom 2 cm at the root end
- 1/2 teaspoon belacan (shrimp paste)
- 10 shallots, peeled
* Note: If, like me, you have ready made rempah in the freezer, just use 2 to 3 tbsps and you'll get your piping hot dish in even lesser time.
1. Pound or grind all the spice ingredients except for the shallots. When the paste is semi fine, add the shallots and grind to make a fine paste. You add shallots last as they are the softest ingredient and if mixed with the hard ingredients, will prevent the harder ingredients from being ground to a fine paste.
2. Clean and devein prawns.
3. Mix assam pulp with water, knead and strain through a sieve to remove seeds. Retain assam water.
4. Heat a wok or saucepan, add the oil and when it is hot, add the spice mixture and stir fry for 3-4 minutes till fragrant and the oil has exuded.
5. Add prawns, salt and sugar; stir fry till the colour changes.
6. Add coconut milk and tamarind water, mix well continue to stir fry for 1-2 minutes till the sauce thickens.
7. Serve with steaming hot rice as part of a meal. So sedap!