My aunt used to make me jars and jars of sambal belacan to bring back to North America with me every time I go home to Malaysia for holiday. I had decided that I should learn to make it myself and luckily with the advent of the Internet, I found many sambal recipes posted online by fellow Malaysians locally and abroad (like me). I had previously posted a version of nasi lemak last year, served with sambal telur instead.
I am posting an adapted version of sambal ikan bilis from Rasa Malaysia, only because I do not use ikan bilis (anchovies) in mine (it’s vegetarian) and I used jarred chopped chillies instead – see picture above (mainly because I was not able to find long thin dried chillies here). I made this version of sambal for a potluck in December and it was a huge hit. I really do think that the secret ingredient to my sambal are tamarind (assam jawa) juice, brown or palm sugar (gula melaka) and sea salt (as opposed to iodised salt) .Also, I do not own a mortar and pestle, I would love to because food does taste different compared to those made with the food processor, but I don’t think my neighbours below me would appreaciate it 😛
- 1 cup of water
- 1.5″ to 2″ ball of tamarind pulp (size of a small ping pong ball)
- 1/2 red onion
- 4 shallots
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 stalk lemongrass thinly sliced (use only the bottom 3 inches of the stalk)
- 10 dried chillies or 1 cup jarred chopped chillies
- 1 teaspoon of vegetarian belacan (prawn paste) powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon of brown/palm sugar (gula melaka), or to taste
- Soak the tamarind pulp in warm water for 15 minutes or more. Squeeze the tamarind constantly to extract the flavor into the water. Remove seeds, drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
- Slice onions into rings or half rings.
- Pound or grind the prawn paste together with lemon grass, shallots, garlic, and chillies. We will call this the spice paste.
- Heat 1/2 cup of cooking oil in a hot wok. Do not skim on the amount of oil when it come to making sambal or curries. Good curries and sambal has a layer of spiced oil on top of them when they are done. The fat is necessary to bring out the taste of spices.
- Fry the spice paste until fragrant.
- Add tamarind juice, sugar and salt. Some people like their sambal sweet. Use as much sugar as needed.
- Let the paste cook while stirring occasionally. It is ready when oil from the paste floats to the top. This is called ‘pecah minyak’ in Malay. You can choose to ladle off the layer of oil before serving, or if you are keeping them for future use in a jar, keep the layer of oil to preserve the flavour. Like all curries or anything spice based, they get better the day after or even longer, if stored properly.
I have every intention to make some vegetarian assam laksa one of these days, but I realized that I had forgotten to buy some vegetarian hae koh (shrimp paste) when I went home to Malaysia for Chinese New Year not too long ago. I was ecstatic to find the recipe for homemade vegetarian shrimp paste on the Internet tonight, and the goal of making assam laksa is can almost be materialized. I just have to find assam keping around here or in Toronto. Below is the recipe from Amy Beh of Kuali.com.
- 1 tbsp Marmite vegetarian yeast extract
- 1 1/2 castor sugar
- 4 tbsp maltose (mak nga tong) – found this is Vietnamese store
- 1 tbsp thick soy sauce — I brought some from home since I cannot find thick soy sauce here that are not Indonesian
- 2 tsp vegetarian belacan powder
- 120ml water
- Thickening: Combine 1 tbsp corn flour + 2 tbsp water
Combine all ingredients in a non-stick saucepan and cook over low heat until it comes to a simmering boil for 1-2 minutes. Stir in thickening to mix.
Yeap, you heard it right! And if you bake, you’ll know that I’m the luckiest person on Earth to have my hands on this baby for nothing at all. Many thanks to my co-worker Steph who dug this out of her garage in the middle of the winter just for me. Apparently her father-in-law had acquired the mixer at a estate sale for only $3!! This piece of machine is at least a few hundred bucks and built like a tank! And it came with the wire whisk, dough hook and beaters, all in perfect condition.
I was told that not only that this is a nicely made solid piece of machinery that is probably a few decades old, but this specific model is one of the higher end ones in the market for household use. This is a bowl-lift model, versus the tilt-head model. It was a little dusty, but nothing a little elbow grease and baking soda couldn’t handle and VOILA! It’s shining like new again.
One more thing that I love about this mixer is that you can tell that it’s retro, and that’s so cool! One tell-tale sign is the “Hobart” logo on the side, and the types of screws used (I was told). Hobart no longer makes this mixer for Kitchenaid today. A research online about Hobart Kitchenaid vintage mixers derived this information:
“The Hobart is designed for use in restaurant and other commercial kitchen heavy duty applications. It is also frequently used in laboratories to mix things such as cement samples and other tough mixing jobs. Such a mixer in a household setting should last several generations of use. It will not stall or stop on heavy bread or pizza doughs…The vintage Hobart Kitchenaid home mixers were engineered and produced to similiar standards as their Commercial line of mixers. That is why they are so sought after and praised on the internet. “
Source: http://www.recipezaar.com/bb/viewtopic.zsp?t=239696 (post by Hobartgirl)
I’ve already used this baby to whip up my first batch of Royal Icing for my Wilton Cake Deco Class Course 2, and it was such a relieve that I didn’t have to use my hand mixer for that job. Royal icing is a lot stiffer and takes about 7-10 minutes to make. I can’t wait to make many more things in the kitchen. Also, all the modern attachements for the mixer will still fit on this retro piece of machinery, e.g. pasta maker, meat grinder, etc. I think my kitchen is pretty equipped now, with the 12-cup Kitchenaid food processor and this stand mixer, I’m set for life (I hope!)