Friday, 22 June 2012

Arre, "SAMBAL" Ke!! ;-)

If Malaysia was anything in a word, it has to be a SAMBAL. It’s a sambal of cultures, and its food is testament to that. Every Malay dish I tasted had a strong influence of the developed food cultures of Asia. 

Be it the Chinese noodles with the spicy Indian type curry that you dip these noodles in, a few crispy fried nuts and a dark prawn sauce on the side, Viola! You got the famous Malay Laksa!!

Or a crispy fruit salad dipped in a dark brown caramel and topped with toasted peanut praline, called Rojak. 

But one thing I found unique and at the same time, most common is, sambal sauce. I couldn’t help but notice the many versions I got to taste of this simple sauce. Every restaurant, every household has a different take on it, and the flavours change according to tastes and preferences!! This is the version I picked up at the Rebakh Island, Langkawi.

And this is how it goes:

100 gms Dried red chillies
100 gms Fresh red chillies
100 gms shallots/onion
50 gms garlic
2 tbsp Tamarind juice
2 tbsp Lemon grass
4 tbsp veg Oil
Salt and pepper
Sugar to tast

50 gms dry prawns and/or anchovy paste (optional)

Soak the dry chillies in the water for around 6 hours, till its soft. Drain and make a paste of it.

Cut all fresh ingredients and make a separate paste with it. Make sure to have all these ingredients into a nice smooth paste with no visible chunks of onion or garlic left. Whisk in the tamarind juice to this and keep it aside

On medium heat, heat up the oil in a pan and pour in the fresh paste. Cook for a few minutes, till the aroma of the ingredients wafts up from the pan.

Now add in the dry red chilli paste and cook till oil separates out of the mix.

(P.S. if you intend to make a non-veg version of this dish, add the optional prawn paste or anchovies with the dry red chilli paste.)

Once the oil separates, season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

This sauce is a great alternative to the horrible vinegary chilly sauce we get in the market. You can store it up in an air tight container for 2 days in room temperature or refrigerate it for a fortnight.


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