Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

It's Getting Hot in Here

If you guys have noticed, I had slowed down a lot on blogging into only bout once a week. I had just started my new job, and still in process of getting the hang of things and in the midst of training. So do bear with me as I have a lot of wonderful good eats waiting to share here.

Anyway, this time I am here to post for Barbara’s The Spice is Right Event, this time with the theme ‘It’s too darn hot!’ Barbara is so right about the case that we Asian love to eat hot and spicy food even though it is darn hot out there. Why? We are mad people who like to sweat their shirt out in some road-side stall with the heat up to 38 degrees. We also like to burn our tongues when we eat and end up with red puffy lips all day. We also happens to enjoy end up with a burning sensation in our stomach all day long and maybe a big business trip to the toilet. Well, there are many reasons we Asian eats darn hot chillies in the heat, but one holds true for everyone is that it is just plain good eats.

The chili condiment that I am going to feature today is called the Sambal Chilli. It is usually served alongside the famous local dish called nasi lemak, which is the unofficial Malaysia national dish, competing with char kuey teow. Nasi lemak holds much stronger position to me as it is enjoyed by all races, young or old. Somehow I believe that it evolves from a simple Malay dish to various types of serving, somehow adapted by other cultures. There are Indian and Chinese serving nasi lemak here in Malaysia, both with their own distinctiveness, or maybe not, what is real nasi lemak anymore anyway? The basic is the rice that is cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves for fragrance. For now there are two popular types, one which is in small servings wrapped in banana leaves, the usual breakfast fare for our locals here. As for the bigger serving style, of huge amount of lemak (fatty) rice, and lots of sambal to go with it along with some fried ikan bilis (anchovies), groundnuts and cucumbers, sometimes with egg, hardboiled or sunny-side-up and fried chicken. This is the usual mamak style fare that we eat it anytime of the day, which I called it fast food the Malaysian style.

For me, as I grew up in Taiping, with not much of wondering around and not much of mamak stalls available, I have not been really expose to the wonders of nasi lemak. When I then came to KL I started to try it out both the breakfast and the mamak style. To me, the best of the nasi lemak comes not only from the coconut milk rice, but the sambal that goes with it. It must be hot with enough kick, while slightly sweet and tangy. Now I would share with you one fool-proof and darn hot

Sambal Chilli

I got this recipe from KC, and it yields quite a large portion of sambal, thus I had scaled it down by half when I did it. But if you have a large family to feed, I would definitely recommend you to make the whole batch since you are doing the same amount of job and it keeps really well too. According to Gina (founder of KC and the one who shared this recipe) it can last for 1 month in room temperature (away from sunlight), 2 months in the fridge and 6 months or longer in the freezer! How cool is that? As for me, after eating bout half the batch, I took the liberty by adding fried ikan bilis (anchovies) to it for the nasi-lemak-style sambal which I’m not sure would the shelf life be shorten, but I remembered keeping it for quite sometime in the fridge. As the recipe that follows, most of the ingredients are just for guidelines, you can add more or less of whichever fancy you most. I had also reduced the sugar amount as I like my sambal more hot than sweet. Amount of oil is also adjustable, some like their sambal drowning in it, but as for me, I am a little health (or weight ha-ha) conscious, thus I reduced the oil amount quite a bit and it still turn out great.

100g red chilli
2 pcs of assam keluk/gelugor (tamarind slice)
100g sugar
10 shallots
6 cloves of garlic
250ml tamarind pulp juice (or dilute tamarind paste in hot water)
80ml oil
2 lime, juiced

Grind together the chillies, onions and garlic into a smooth paste
Add in sugar, tamarind juice and assam keluk to mix
Heat up the oil in the wok
Add in the chilli paste to cook, turning down to low heat and continue to stir fry the paste
Cook until the paste turns dark and starting to dry out
Turn off the heat and let it cool completely
Stir in the lime juice
Store in tight jars

For sambal ikan bilis:
2-3 handfuls of ikan bilis (anchovies)
Oil for frying

Heat enough oil for frying in the wok
When smoking hot, throw in the ikan bilis and fry until crispy
Take care not to burn it as it can turn from crispy to burn pretty fast
Dish out and let drain
Then stir it into the sambal, mix well
Store in tight jars again

Yields 300g of darn hot sambal

Suggestions:
Serve with nasi lemak
Goes along really well with stir-fry noodles too like my pad thai
Kicks up a notch on any regular or chinese fried rice
Leave out the ikan bilis to go with char kuey teow

4 comments:

gina said...

yoohoo rachel! I thought you shared this sambal chilli already? Just a tip to add to your blog, if you use more oil to fry the paste, just scoop it out and store it in a glass bottle and cover it with a cork. and Voila!, you just did your own home made Sambal Oil. Full of Flavour, no preservatives. You can use this Sambal oil to fry squids, or have a quick fix of Nasi Goreng orMee Goreng. After all, you always need some oil for frying. Haven't u seen you for a while at KC too. Missing your food pics!

rokh said...

hi gina! thanks for dropping by and great tips bout the oil. will do it next time. i will come back to KC more often, as you know been bit busy!

Tummythoz said...

'Alo there. IMO, the better tasting nasi lemak (esp the glorious sambal) are those sold by the makeshift stalls parked at kakilima/roadside in the morning & evening. Somehow those served at big Mamak shops tend to disappoint & expensive.

rokh said...

tummythoz, i do agree that good sambal appears in some good old fashioned stalls, but some mamak shops are not bad too, just need to know where to find as there are an influx of them.

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