Monday, October 25, 2010

Cockles with Lemon Grass & Turmeric Leaf & Stir-fried Belacan Kangkong

Cockle or "kerang"is one of my favorite seafood. It's cheap & you can't get enough of it. The recipe for "kerang rebus" (steamed cockles) is my mum's, as far as I know the only way she cooks cockles. The smell of turmeric leaf & lemon grass in this cockle dish is so ingrained in my brain that I wouldn't enjoy cockles as much as I would any other way.

It's very simple.

1 kg of cockles
(washed & soaked in water)
2 sticks lemon grass
1 turmeric leaf
(both bruised to release the essential oils)
4 shallots
2 cloves garlic

Sauté chopped shallots & garlic
Throw in lemon grass & turmeric leaf
Add water & bring to boil
Season with salt (a little bit more because cockles will release its own juices)
I improvise by adding oyster sauce
Then dump in the cockles & cover to keep steam in the pot for about 7-10 minutes or until the cockles open up.

The rules of preparing/eating shellfish are throw away those that are always open before cooking (during washing) & those that are closed after cooking. You will be unpleasantly surprised if you break this rules.

I digress a bit. Talking about turmeric leaf. Last month I watched a program called "Chasing the Yum" hosted by a Chinese American chef (I think!). Yes correct you guessed it. He wrongly called turmeric leaf as curry leaf. I was stunned! A PRO got it wrong with a basic ingredient in Asian cooking. I think he's oblivious to his mistake. They say "knowledge is power -oblivion is bliss". Enough of that. FYI, I never watch that program anymore!

Next recipe is a favorite among Malaysians (I gotta say it a candidate for 1Malaysia dish). "Kangkong goreng belacan" or stir-fried belacan kangkong (spinach). This recipe works with other vegetables too e.g asparagus, French beans etc.

1 kg kangkong (believe me 1 kg will wilt down to nothing)
(washed, leaves plucked & stem bruissed & keep separate)
2 cm belacan (shrimp paste) toasted on a pan
2 tsp dried shrimp
5 shallots
3 cloves garlic
1-2 red chili or birds eye chili if you like more heat
(all pounded with pestle & mortar)

Sauté pounded ingredients till fragrant
Cook the stem first
After stem had wilted add the leaves
Season to taste
I don't know why but I always improvise by adding oyster sauce...maybe it's something about oyster & aphrodisiac!

Simple dinner combo. Prep time 30 min. Cooking time about 15-20 min.

Bon a petit!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Udang Masak Lemak Cili Padi


It has been a long while since my last post..... since February to be exact. I have been quite distracted. Changing workplace from Regency to Columbia Asia. The birth of Mia Ariana on April 6th 2010. Her hospitalization with pneumonia in May. A lot of things had happened in the meantime.

Today I was searching for authentic Negeri Sembilan recipes online when I came across my own blog. I wanted to try authentic "udang masak lemak cili padi" (prawn in coconut milk with bird's eye chili). I found out that there are so many ways to do it. There are recipes with no shallots, no garlic, no lemon grass, no sautéing, using tomato, tamarind slices or pineapple etc etc. All claimed to be authentic! Whatever it is it's the taste at the end of cooking that counts.

I tried this recipe previously but this time I omitted garlic & turmeric leaves and used tomatoes instead of dried tamarind slices for sourness. Next time I want to try it with pineapple.

This recipe is courtesy of Cik Leha (my brother's mother-in-law). She is an excellent cook who resides in Linggi. I would like to learn from her authentic Negeri Sembilan dishes when I have the chance.