Asian Dishes, Malay, Salads and Vegetables, Soups

Asam Rebus

It’s fasting month and it’s the school holidays and hence I have no choice but to cook almost daily. 😂 I am sure once the term starts, the cooking will stop, and I’ll be the occasional cook again pottering about in my pink kitchen.

And because I have been so reliant on my Mama who has the Helper to assist her, I am embarrassed to say I can’t even cook a single of Mama’s cooking. So again the Helper had to tell me what to do step by step.

In Indonesia, this dish is called sayur asem and it’s so good with grilled meat and fish. Which is exactly what I intend to cook tonight. My Mama’s version is the Malay kampung style version which means there are no exact recipes, and you’ve got to keep on tasting till you get the right balance of seasoning.

The key ingredient of the dish is assam or tamarind. Asam keping or asam gelugur is the dried form of the tamarind fruit and then there’s the pulp form of the fruit, now easily available deseeded and in a paste. See below for the picture of the dried fruit. One piece can be already sour. But of course add more if the pot is larger or the fruit is smaller.

The dish calls for a lot of vegetables and the boiling method.

Step 1:

Make the rencah, or paste. My Mama’s basic recipe is one red onion, two garlic cloves, three fresh res chillies and a handful of dried ikan bilis (dried anchovies). Blend to a fine paste. According to my Indonesian Helper, the Javanese would use candelnuts in the paste. Maybe one day I’ll try and find a recipe using the Javanese version.

Step 2:

In a pot, add water and the rencah, and let boil. At this early stage, you may add the corn as it takes longer to cook. Add also a bruised lemongrass and two pieces of crushed galangal slices for the aroma.

Step 3:

Continue to let boil while prepping the rest of the vegetables. I have here long beans, baby brinjals, cabbage and a sliced tomato. But do not add cabbage till the last bit or it’ll be very soggy. Also, add the rest of the vegetables only when the rencah has boiled enough (you can smell it), about 15 minutes of rolling boil.

Step 4:

Once the vegetables are in and boiling (except for the cabbage), it is time to season the broth. Add three teaspoons of salt, one teaspoon of sugar and two or three (if small) pieces of asamgelugur. Let boil and taste. Adjust the salt and sugar content if needed. Add one teaspoon of asamjawa, the tamarind paste if it’s not sour enough. Let mixture boil and then finally add the cabbage.

This is the final product in the pot. I’ll probably update this post later after dinner to show how it’s served with the other dishes.

It’s a very healthy vegetable dish. Try it!

Update: Asam Rebus eaten with grilled fish and tempeh manis.

Asian Dishes, Chinese, Poultry, Soups

Herbal Chicken in a Thermo Pot

I used to watch over my pot boiling for hours this chicken soup dish but with the thermo pot it’s so simple!

The family loves Chinese herbal chicken soup and thankfully shops sell plenty of the ready made herbal ingredients.

To make this dish, it is really about buying, and then throwing all in and wait it out. I love it!

The above are some of the root ingredients that come in the packet. With it are also a small packet of goji berries. I added some red dates which I kept in the fridge in the mix too.

My thermal pot is a small one but it’s enough for the four of us and even for leftovers the next day! I only added three large pieces of chicken meat to it.

Boil furiously for ten minutes or more then cover in the thermal pot.

Since it’s fasting month, it was a perfect dish to keep.

The taste is sublime! So chickeny and herbally! I served it with rice, and fried broccoli with beef, omelette and plenty of fresh coriander.

Meat, Middle Eastern/Turkish, Soups

Harira

I wished I had discovered this soup earlier. This is such a tasty, lovely, tomato-ey soup which everyone I served that day slurped it up dry.

On Mothers’ Day, I invited my family over and made harira, moussaka, a salad and tiramisu for lunch.

This harira recipe I got off the internet and they are basically the same ingredients: blended onions, lots of finely chopped fresh coriander and parsley, paprika (I used smoked), black pepper, powdered ginger, black pepper, salt, tomato sauce (a bottle of passata works perfectly), tomato paste/puree, meat cubes (I used brisket), lentils, chickpeas, vermicelli, water,  and a mixture of flour and water paste to thicken.

My version that day was without the chickpeas and I made my soup slightly thicker so that they could dunk it with toasted bread. This is a Moroccan dish, one of their national dishes I think, and I have influenced at least two colleagues to cook this dish, one of whom made it two days consecutively for dinner.

Harira Soup in the tureen
The Mothers’ Day spread. Mommy brought beautifully baked salmon and dill rice. I forgot to place the salad plate for the table but it had beautiful yellow, orange and red baby capsicums.
Asian Dishes, Soups

Toddler Food

I remember someone asking me to post about baby food. Erm, that was a year ago. How time flies. A few days ago, I decided to finally make my 18 month old boy lunch. I seldom make for him food. In fact, for this whole year, like never. Ever since we had a domestic helper, I’ve left practically all the cooking of baby food to her.

My boy has molars. Two of them. What that means is that he has long weaned from eating soft mushy food and I must say with some pride, is a man’s man. Man, can that boy eat. ;p

I made healthy rice in the cooker and then in a saucepan, I fried one garlic clove, added water. Then, I added two teaspoons of ground toasted ikan bilis. And then vegetables – carrots, potatoes, broccoli and finally soft tofu. He didn’t want me to feed him but he ate with relish the entire bowl when The Girl fed him. Sigh. This is what happens when Mommies go out to work.