Thursday, October 1, 2009
What is the cornerstone of Nonya and Malay cooking?
This uniquely hot belachan sambal (chilli and dried shrimp paste) is the base ingredient and seasoning found in most Singaporean Nonya and Malay cooking. Most people conveniently buy a bottle of sambal belachan from the Asian kit ai tiam (stores) these days, but the classic home made recipe is here for those seeking to create an authentic Nonya or Malay dishes. It has a robust and feisty flavour, thanks to the happy marriage of tastes between the fresh chilli and the dried shrimp paste. The riotously pungent sambal comes from dried shrimp paste which emits a powerful smell when toasted, a smell most foul especially to the uninitiated. But to most Singaporeans, this fiery hot and addictive fix has whelped the appetite of many of us since our childhood.
Just as a dish is never complete without shoyu (Soy sauce) to the Chinese,Japanese and other Asians, the Peranakan flavours most of their dishes with sambal belachan. It is used most often as a dressing for most Nonya salads (kerabu) but it also goes well with vegetables and seafood such as prawn and sotong (squids).
150g Fresh red chillies
50g toasted belachan
5 limau kasturi aka sng kam (calamansi lime)
In a mortar, add the fresh chillies and pound well with a pestle to the desired consistency. Add the toasted belachan and mesh into the chilli paste. Squeezed the lime juice into the pounded sambal belachan just before serving.