Asian Dishes, Seafood

Sotong Masak Hitam (Squid in Blank Ink Sauce)

So I finally learned how to make this popular Malay dish. It’s a family favourite dish in most households and I always wondered why, growing up as a child, my non-Malay friends would ask about the black colour of the dish when they see it sold at Malay stalls. Fast forward to a young adult me, I kept quiet when so many of these hipster kids laud approval at the Italian squid ink pasta. Same same, no? 😏

I realise also that besides this being so simple to make (well, once you get all the spice mix blended), that squid in my market is so expensive! Good thing squid is high in cholesterol so I won’t be buying this often!

As with a lot of Malay cooking, the first step is the spice mix or blended ingredients. Here, I have my blended dried chillies, blended onions, blended garlic, blended ginger and I used turmeric powder because I was too impatient to make the entire thing from scratch. Fry the blended paste in oil with two bruised lemongrass till the oil rises. Slow and steady cooking – don’t burn the mixture!
These are the ink sacs from the squid. As you’re cleaning the squid, carefully remove the ink sacs and set aside
Once the chilli and friends mixture has fully cooked, add the squid rings and cover. The squid will release a lot of moisture which will form your gravy later.
When the squid is cooked and very tender, add the ink sacs. Immediately, you’ll see the dish turning black. I added a kaffir lime leaf earlier too. Also, add about half a tablespoon of tamarind paste, and then salt to season.
Lastly, add tomato wedges and slit whole green chillies for some colour contrast. It’s very delicious eaten with jasmine white rice. Try this dish if you’re feeling adventurous!

Recipe

Blended Ingredients:

1. 10-15 dried chillies, soaked

2. 2 Bombay onions

3. An inch of ginger

4. 3 cloves garlic

5. An inch of turmeric (use powder if fresh is not available)

Others:

6. 2 lemongrass, bruised

7. Kaffir lime leaves

8. Tamarind paste

9. Salt to taste

10. Green chillies and tomatoes for garnish

Main star:

11. Fresh squid, cut into rings

Method:

1. Add sufficient oil in a pot and throw in the lemongrass

2. Add in the blended paste and fry till the oil surfaces (mixture must be cooked. Smell to ensure no raw smell of the chillies)

3. Add squid rings. Add kaffir lime leaves. Cover and cook squid.

4. Add squid ink sacs

5. Add tamarind paste, season with salt to taste

6. Add the green chillies and tomato wedges

Asian Dishes, Meat

Rawon

So I finally made Rawon myself! I had to go to the wet market to get my buah keluak. Remember that poisonous Indonesian nut that if not properly processed is deadly? Well, the east way out for me is to get from the stall owner ready processed ones! 🙂

These are the nuts (in the plastic bags hanging). The black stuff which is like gold to the Malays or Peranakans are inside. I’m not sure if the ones sold in markets in this form are ready to use.
These are the black nuts. I bought from the stall owner for only two dollars (SGD) and it was enough for one pot. It’s definitely an acquired taste but the Malays/Javanese blend this fine to make the Rawon dish.
So the base is this dish is blended onions, dried chillies, garlic, ginger, coriander powder, fennel powder, cumin powder and the black nuts. Blend till very fine. In a pot or in my case, a pressure cooker, cook the blended paste till the oil rises. The smell coming out from this paste is amazing! It’s the black buah keluak nuts! Add lemon grass and a couple of kaffir lime leaves while cooking this paste. Slow and steady cooking first.
Beef cubes and beef trimmings. I used 500g of beef cubes and about 200 g or less of beef trimmings.
Coat and fry for a few minutes.
Add water and pressure cook for about 30min till meat is tender.
When the meat is tender, add about 2tbsp of tamarind pulp, and salt to taste. Add long beans.
And it’s ready to be served! The accompaniments are paru or fried marinated beef lungs, and bergedil, potato patties. Of course, sambal belacan! A piquant sambal made with fresh ready chillies and fermented shrimp paste.

A traditional Javanese dish! Yummy!

Seafood

Spiced Sting Ray

We love sting Ray (skate wings) here. Usually, the preferred way of eating in our hawker centers will be grilled on a banana leaf and then topped with a piquant sambal sauce. I’ve made one before and shared it here.

But last Saturday, I made this dish so that it could be mixed together with my other seafood dishes in a shellout day meal (Header Picture).

It’s a sambal dish but I added garam masala and plenty of black pepper. Fry till quite dry and caramelised but make sure not to overcook the fish or it’ll be dry.

This is the type of dried chillies that we use in a lot of Malay and SEAsian cooking. Rehydrate and then blend
These are the Bombay onions, garlic and ginger which I blended separately from the chillies
Mix the blended raw ingredients together
And this is the base for a lot of Malay dishes. Can be stored in the freezer for months.

The next few steps are video recordings of me frying the paste and then adding in the aromatic leaves i.e. curry leaves and lime leaves. And then the stingray pieces, and finally lots of black pepper and of course salt to taste. Fry till fish is cooked and the skins slightly caramelised.

The important part is to make sure the chillies are cooked through, or what we call in Malay ‘pecah minyak’. Basically, the oils from the chillies have surfaced. This ensures that the chillies are not raw. This dish is delicious eaten with hot rice or just on its own.

You can squeeze calamansi lime over before eating for a more uplifting experience!

Seafood

Prawns in Aromatic Spicy Soy Sauce

This is one of the easiest and my go to recipe whenever I see large prawns. And last Saturday when I went to the market, boy, were there some super HUGE prawns at the regular seafood market stall!

Even though it cost $24 a kilo, I bought it because it looked sooooo tempting! Look how huge these prawns are!

After cleaning the innards and cutting off half of it’s head, I marinated them in white pepper and deep fried all of them till fully cooked.

After frying the prawns, remove them, then discard the oil and replace the wok with fresh cooking oil. Add chopped garlic, three sprigs of curry leaves (from my potted plant 🙂 ) and slices of red bird’s eye chillies.

Once these aromatics are fried fragrant, add the prawns back to the wok and add about 3 tablespoons of Indonesian kecap manis and a squeeze of lime juice from half a lime. Season with a bit of salt and that’s it! I love love love this simple dish of spicy fragrant soy based sauce. Sprinkle with a smattering of coriander leaves (cilantro) and mint (both I got from my potted plants.) 🙂

Poultry

French-inspired Roast Chicken

Today’s meal is so simple but soooooo flavourful. Maybe I can call it chicken provencale but I don’t want to offend any food purists out there. But all I know it’s definitely delish! Served with my garlic and rosemary focaccia (well, the Italians had to make a presence here because currently it’s the easiest bread I know how to bake!). The family totally loved this dish!

Coat seasoned chicken pieces (yes, you have to salt the chicken too) in seasoned flour (salt and black pepper), then when one side is browned, turn over, add fresh rosemary, plenty of garlic pieces and a sprinkling of herbs de Provence (I just used the bottled herbs).
Turn over again after the other side is browned and now add two tomatoes, wedged. I added about 1/2 cup of boxed chicken stock and then transferred the entire thing to the oven.
Slightly charred because I used the roasting setting (I have impatient kids forever asking for food!) but the flavour from all this is sublime!
And now I’m worried there isn’t enough chicken! Looks like I will have to cook something else soon for later in the day!