Friday, July 27, 2012

Simple Sambal Belacan Paste

Sambal, as we call it in Malaysia and Indonesia.  It is a must for some authentic Malay and Indonesian cooking.  There are many varieties of sambal in Indonesia and the one that is most popular in Malaysia, I would have to say is sambal belacan.  Belacan is a shrimp paste, made of dried shrimps, anchovies and salt.  Something that is definitely pungent for some people.  But with belacan, the result of one dish would both taste and smell heavenly!

This sambal belacan paste can be a base for many dishes.  Stir fry sambal belacan asparagus/kangkong/eggplant, sambal belacan prawns, sambal belacan grill fish(serve with lime, yumyum), oven baked sambal belacan chicken and more!  With some lime, it is also a wonderful condiment, for noodles, rice, etc...

Please have your door open, windows open while making this sambal belacan paste as the smell can fill the whole house.  I'm wondering if our 3 neighbours on the same floor in this apartment moved away has to do with this belacan!!! 

120g red chili, cut, seeds removed (I prefer smooth paste)
100g belacan
20 bird's eye chili/Thai chili
4 cloves garlic
120g red onions, cut
juice from half a lemon
3 tbsp cooking oil
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
makes about 2 cups of sambal belacan paste

1.  Traditionally this should be made using a stone mortar.  But I'm saving my time and energy and just blend them.  So chili, bird's eye chili, onions, garlic, belacan, lemon juice all dump into the blender and blend until smooth.

2.  In a small stainless pot, heat cooking oil over medium heat.  Pour the blended paste into the pot and cook for 15 minutes or so or when the colour turn dark red and oil started to float.  Add sugar and salt, give it a quick stir and turn off the heat.

Sambal belacan kangkong

                                                                                    oven baked sambal belacan chicken


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Potato and Broccoli Soup

This potato and broccoli soup recipe was given by a dear friend I met in Bucharest, Romania.  This is a hearty soup with potatoes, broccoli, onion and garlic.  I like to add some ginger in this soup during the winter.  The ginger would help keep one warm.

200g potatoes, sliced
100g broccoli, chopped
1 medium brown onion, sliced
400ml vegetables stock or water
2 gloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
some cream
some chives
Serves 2

1.  In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Stir fry the onion, potatoes, garlic and broccoli together for 2 - 3 minutes until soft.

2.  Add in the vegetables stock/water and bring it to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 - 12 minutes with the lid cover.

3.  Remove from heat and blend with a hand held blender or a food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Bring it back to the pot(if you are using a food processor) and season with salt and pepper to taste.  The soup is done when heat through.  (You can add some water if the soup is too thick)

4.  Scoop the soup into two serving bowls.  Add some cream and sprinkle some chives on top.  Serve hot with some crispy baguettes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Chips

Hmmm.... Cinnamon rolls, who doesn't like them?

These soft bun/rolls with the sweetness from brown sugar and with rich ground cinnamon flavour smell and taste just as good!

I made these rolls two years ago and thought that it took too much time and too much work.  But I like soft buns, my kids like soft buns, and where we came from, most of us eats soft buns.  My kids and I don't really fancy the German's Brötchen - small buns that are soft inside but hard and crispy outside.  So I had decided to give this recipe another go.  Thinking that if this went well, I will make more bread and bun in the future.

Surprisingly, it was not too much work at all.  The original recipe call for keeping the dough in the fridge for 4 hours but instead I just leave it in room temperature to rise for 1 1/2 hours.  And I only kneaded it once.  I've made a little twist by adding some chocolate chips too, so let's start making some!

160g all purpose flour
30g cold butter
15g butter, melted
60ml milk, room temperature
1 tbsp warm water (40 degree C)
1 tbsp + 2 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Some chocolate chips (optional)

1.  In a little bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, cover and set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt.  Using finger tips rub the cold butter with flour mixture until crumbly.  Add in milk, yeast mixture, egg yolk and stir well.  On a lightly floured surface, knead for about 1 minute.   Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, keep in a warm place to let it rise for at least 1 1/2 hours.  Then gently punch the dough once to release the air.

3.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into 25 x 15cm rectangle.  Brush the edges with butter (to seal the edges).
Mix the 2 tablespoons white sugar, dark brown sugar and ground cinnamon together and sprinkle over dough.  Top with chocolate chips.

4.  Roll up the dough like a Swiss roll cake.  Cut into eight pieces.  Place them in a greased 19cm square baking dish(a round dish also works fine).  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

5.  Bake at 180 degree C for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Note:  My kids and I enjoy eating them without any glaze.  Also I find it healthier without it.  :-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Vegetarian Curry Puff with Puff Pastry

I'm sure anyone who had been living in Malaysia or Singapore for a while knows this popular snack!  This is probably the fastest and easiest way to make curry puff.  Instead of making the pastry from scratch, just use ready made puff pastry.  Simple and easy with curry potatoes fillings.

I would normally make two dozens of them, put six of them in a plastic bag, and freeze them.  Whenever I feel like having some, I just pop them in the oven, and I have hot yummy home-made curry puff in just 10 or 15 minutes.

350g potatoes, peeled, cut into 1cm cube 
1 small onion, finely chopped
100ml water
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt\
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp cooking oil
275g ready made puff pastry, thawed (25 x 42cm)

1.  Preheat the oven to 200 degree C.  Line a baking tray with grease paper.

2.  In a pan over medium heat, add in 1 tablespoon of oil.  Stir fry the onion for about 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add in the potatoes and stir fry for about 1 minute.

3.  Mix the curry powder, chili powder, sugar, salt with water.  Add the mixture in the pan and cook the potatoes in low heat for another 10 or 15 minutes.  It's done when the potatoes are cooked through.

4.  Set the potatoes aside to cool.  Meanwhile cut the puff pastry to 12 rectangles.  Put 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon of potatoes in the centre of the rectangle.  Fold the pastry into half.  Press the sides of the pastry with a fork (as seen on the photo below). 

4.  Bake the curry puff for 10 - 15 minutes.  You can egg wash the top of the pastry with half of an egg mix with 2 tablespoons of milk.