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!

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