If you are a fan of South East Asian cuisine, you would know that shrimp paste (terasi in Indonesian or Belachan in Malaysian) is an essential ingredient to spice up any kind of cooking. It has a funky smell – kind of unbearable by its own. But if it is married with the right ingredients, nothing less than harmonious taste would develop and it can be quite addictive!
I just found out a rather interesting way of preparing it the right way – or so I have been told. So this is the way it is done in IndoChine Kitchen. The type we use is not really paste, but rather shrimp paste in form of hard pressed cakes. There are many commercially sold shrimp paste now, prepared in individually wrapped plastics, just like candy. In fact, our housecook mistakenly thought they were candies. The ones featured below is from ABC Terasi, about 5 gr per pack. Enough for one serving of dish.
Unwrapped the package (obviously) or cut the blocks of terasi / belachan into small pieces. About 2 tablespoons or 5 grams would be enough for anything prepared for 4 to 6 people.
Turn on the stove – under medium heat and place the shrimp paste in the middle part of the burner
Leave on for 3 minutes until some part of it is charred and started to crack in the middle part – this is the sign that it is ready
Remove from heat and scrape off the burnt part. The shrimp paste is fully toasted and the flavor is wholly released. Ready to rock and roll with the rest of your cooking.
Toasting in stove burner
Nicely toasted and ready to be used
Would love to know how others prepare their shrimp paste. Please do share.
Also known as Kolak Pisang – is an everyday dessert that can be found in every street corner in the country. Very economical and cheap to make, this can be served cold or warm. The sweetness is a great pick-me-up for a slow day at work. Most favorite snack for open-fasting at Ramadhan, this is eaten all year long.
The main ingredients are ripe cooking banana (saba / plantain), coconut milk, pandan leaves and palm sugar (also known as red sugar / gula aren / gula melaka – sold in round blocks). A whole lot of others can also be added, such as Kolang Kaling (fruit of sugar palm tree), jackfruit, sweet potatoes.
We only had sweet potatoes at home, even though I had a sudden urge of creative idea of dropping some canned lychees in there, I refrained from doing that. Maybe next time. Although, I absolutely believe that crunchy lychee and longan would give the most interesting texture to the dessert.
The most important part of the cooking process is the constant boiling and constant stirring. Not easy, I might add. But the caramel flavor developed by the boiling coconut milk, pandan leaves and palm sugar was my main motivation.
Fermented soybean paste (“Taoco” in Indonesian) is a traditional cooking condiment used in varieties of stir-fry dishes. Made from soybean, it is washed and soaked in water for 24 hours. It was peeled, boiled and fermented for two to three days. Rice flour is then added, sun-dried for two to five days, salt is then added. The final fermentation takes 1 to 2 weeks. Additional spices and flavorings are added and boiled for one last time and packed in small jars or plastic bags.
Medan – where I live now, is one of the major producers for fermented soy bean paste. The paste from this area has slightly saltier taste compared to other parts of the country, where more sugar is added.
The following dish is a very popular dish – mainly in rural area where people have parties at home to celebrate certain events or highlights, such as birthdays, coming of age, marriage. Such parties will involve willing family members, relatives and neighbors to come and cook for the festivities. This is always present because it can be cooked in big batches, this is also really cheap to make. Sometimes this is prepared with slight variation of the ingredients but the essence of spices and cooking style are mainly the same.
This time I used round and small eggplant, sized of big grapes (anybody knows what this variety of eggplant called?) and beancurd skin. This is what Pai always makes at her house for her home parties. My father commented that it was not spicy enough – it really wasn’t until you chewed on one of the chili slices, of course.
Anyway, fermented soy bean paste always has a very interesting umami taste to it, I think all dish using this will always be savory and delicious.
Click below for the ingredients, instructions and how-to shoots on prepping dried beancurd skin for this tasty dish.
I live in a tropical country where sun shines 365 days a year. And I have never grown anything my whole life. Weird? Not really. I am what you would call, a plant killer. Anything I touched would wilt and die tragically – I am referring to flora species only here. Although not specifically limited to that, I can add tortoises, gold fish, koi, iguana, etc.
I would love very much to have herb garden. Whenever I feel like cooking something, I can just step out to the front yard and yank some plants out and I would be on my way. Wouldn’t that be marvelous?
I did try some packaged seeds with no avail. About a month ago, Pai bought too much lemon basil and without much thinking I grabbed 5 bunches. I walked out to the garden and just sticked them into a potted moist dirt. The next week, Pai told me that we have flourishing lemon basil plants!
Lemon basil is used a lot in Indonesian cooking. I will feature more of these dishes later. Definitely. I am too excited about this. I have mint, parsley and coriander on the way. Let’s see whether they survive.
We live in the tropics, where people hardly ever heard of Thanksgiving. I thought it would be great to have a nice dinner party introducing the concept of Thanksgiving to our family and close friends. There are a lot to be thankful for all year round of 2008, and what would be best to sum it up with a nice dinner in the garden?
I could not be happier when my proposal for November 24 meals, 24 hours, 24 blogs was selected by FoodBuzz. That is a great opportunity that I had never thought would be possible.
The preparation started two weeks ago with party theme, choice of menu, guest list, cutleries and dinnerware, music list and basic party needs such as tables, chairs, light fixtures. Then I moved on to the shopping, cooking schedule and deadline, decoration. Read on to see how it all went.