Asian Dishes, Malay, Seafood

Sotong Masak Hitam (Squid in Black 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, Malay, Seafood, Singapore

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!

Asian Dishes, Malay, Poultry

Lemak Ayam Chilli Padi (Chicken in Bird’s Eye Chilli Coconut Broth)

Chicken in Spicy Coconut Cream

I posted this many many years ago as one of the first few posts. This is Malay comfort food cooking because it has all the elements that we love – spicy, tangy and creamy.

I made this again recently because I had just bought these small bird’s eyes chillies that are actually quite hard to find here. These smaller versions are found easily in Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia, but the only kinds of bird’s eye chillies that we can find in supermarkets are the longish Thai ones.

These small ones pack a punch but the best part is you can eat them whole without realising as you put a spoonful of rice, chicken and gravy. 😅

Start by blending an onion, three cloves of garlic, a handful of bird’s eyes chilli and fresh turmeric till fine or semi-fine. For last night’s version, I chose Super fine.
Fry in oil till fragrant. Throw in two smashed lemongrass. Add water, and chicken pieces. Let it simmer till chicken is cooked.
Once chicken is cooked add a packet of coconut cream (200g) and aromatic leaves like kaffir lime leaves and turmeric leaves. Add assam pieces (tamarind fruit). Season with salt. And that is it.

The flavour is super hot, tangy (from the tamarind) and creamy (from the coconut). Eat with hot rice and a side of stir fried greens and you’re set to go. 😃

Asian Dishes, Malay, Poultry

Ayam Bul-Bul (Fried Chicken in Spicy Oil)

I posted this about ten years ago but without accompanying steps. This is my childhood favourite! And I’m going to make this the kids’ favourite too. It’s a dry chicken dish which is oh so fragrant! The only problem is I think my family is the only one who cooks this – as in my extended family. I scoured the net and save for one person who has the same name dish, it wasn’t exactly the same. So here goes!

Step 1: Deep fry wings that have been marinated in turmeric and salt. And yes, we love the wingtip here in Asia. I can never understand when overseas food programmes remove the tip. That’s like the best part! Crunchy!
Step 2: In a wok, gently fry finely diced onions, curry leaves and about two heaped teaspoons of fennel. If you have cumin seeds do half and half but I ran out of cumin seeds. Fry till onions are translucent and the whole oil mixture smells fragrant.
Step 3: Add cut dried chillies based on preference.
Step 4: Add the fried wings. Sprinkle some powdered chilli. I used smoked paprika here. Add a tablespoon or two (depends on how much wings you have in there) of brown sugar. Mix well.
Make sure to stir very well so that all the oily spice mixture is coated to the wings. Best eaten fresh and hot with rice or just on its own. We love to this so much, we always make a big batch so we could have it over and over throughout the day as a snack!
Ayam Bul-Bul
Asian Dishes, Malay, Rice

Bubur Lambok (Savoury Rice Porridge)

I don’t know the origins of this dish but once I came across an article that states this dish has been around for 200 years because apparently they found a recipe for it that dates that long ago.

Bubur lambok is a dish often served in Singapore and Malaysia, especially during the fasting month. I guess it’s the same concept as what the Pakistanis have – haleem, and well, other regions have their own porridge variants.

Since all mosques are closed here during our ‘lockdown’ (yes, it’s called a Circuit Breaker here because it’s not a complete shut down of the economy … I think. Whatever.) and we can’t visit people, even our family members who are not living in the same household, there’s no way to get my hands on this savoury porridge.

So, I have to learn how to make it myself. 😌

And I must say, the result was fantastic! Thanks to my trusty Philips pressure cooker, the porridge turned out beautiful!

Prep all the ingredients you need on the counter.
Sautéing then onions, garlic and ginger pasted with lemon grass. Later, frying all the spices till fragrant. I’ll list down the steps below.
Instead of carrots or corn, I added a cup of dhal.
After that The Boy ran away with my phone so I had no more pictures till the final outcome.
The bubur lambok in a serving platter.

Having a bowl of delicious warm bubur (porridge) as an appetiser before I attacked that plate of chicken wings there!

Ingredients

1. 2 large onions, 4 garlic cloves, 2 cm ginger blended till fine.

2. 1 cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 5 cardamoms, 2 star anise

3. 300g of minced beef

4. 1/2 cup dhal

5. 2 cups rice (here, I used 1 cup Japanese white rice and 1 cup brown Thai rice. But any short to medium grain rice will do. DO NOT use long grain basmati like rice. It won’t work to make porridge)

6. 1/2 tbsp meat curry powder, 2 teaspoons cumin powder, 1 tbsp coriander powder, white and black ground pepper

7. Finely chopped cilantro and Chinese parsley (about one cup). 1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised.

8. 1/2 cup fried shallots (bawang goreng). I get the ready made ones that are easily available here.

9. Ghee or olive oil (I used ghee today) and water plus salt to taste

10. One packet of coconut cream (200g)

Pressure Cooker Method

1. Turn on the sauté Low function. When the pot is hot, add about two tablespoons of ghee.

2. Fry the blended onion, garlic, ginger paste still it’s nicely done (when you see it sort of separates itself and there’s oil) together with the bruised lemongrass, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick and star anise.

3. Add the dry spices: meat curry powder, cumin and coriander powder. Black pepper.

4. Add the minced beef and fry everything till it’s all nicely cooked, with the oil separating from the whole dish.

5. Add now the raw rice and dhal.

6. Add water till near the top of the pot. Stir. Add salt.

7. I covered the lid at this stage and let the whole thing cook on slow with high heat for 2 hours. When I opened the lid to check and stir, the rice has nicely plumped up but it’s still not porridge consistency yet.

8. Add one packet of coconut cream, stir well.

9. Add the fried shallots, stir well.

10. Add a bit more salt and then cover the lid and pressure cook under the ‘risotto’ setting for 14 min

11. When I opened the lid, and I stirred and stirred the mixture, it was a beautiful porridge consistency. Add now the chopped parsley and coriander and stir.