September 21, 2008

A Dish Worth Its Salt

By Su Aziz

FANCY salt fish curry masak lemak-style? SU AZIZ gives you the recipe.

One of the easiest Malay dishes to cook is the masak lemak. Its creamy, spicy flavours and enticing colours are delightful.

It's a flexible dish that can be cooked with any meat or vegetable, and loved by children and adults alike.

For this recipe, Cinnamon Coffee House of One World Hotel at Bandar Utama in Petaling Jaya couples the turmeric-infused, coconut milk-gravy dish with yam stalk and salted kurau fish.

A virtually idiot-proof dish, it's perfect served with steaming white rice or a bowl of vermicelli.

But if you want to save yourself the bother, sample it in Cinnamon's Ramadan buffet which is offering over 100 dishes.

Masak Lemak Ikan Masin with Yam Stalk

Generally, masak lemak is mild in flavour. You can spice it up with cili padi or other such condiments. This recipe has both cili padi and the strong flavour of salted fish to rev things up. You'll need:

* 500gm of yam stalks or batang keladi

* a handful of shallots, blended or finely chopped

* cili padi and red chillies, blended

* a generous pinch of turmeric powder

* half litre of coconut milk

* 8 pieces of asam keping

* 2 blades of lemongrass

1. Peel and cut the yam stalks into 4-5cm strips. Then boil them for around five minutes in water or until they are soft. Clean your hands with cooking oil to remove the sap from the stalks.

2. In a hot pot, dry-fry the shallots, asam keping and lemongrass.

3. Next, add in the blended chillies and stir until fragrant.

4. Mix in the coconut milk.

5. Just as the coconut milk begins to simmer, sprinkle in the turmeric powder. Go easy with it. Turmeric can be pungent and bitter if it is too much. Two pinches should be sufficient.

6. As the mixture boils, add in the yam stalks and the salted fish. Remember to soak the fish in some water for a few minutes before cooking to dilute its saltiness.

7. There is no need to add in salt but season to suit your taste.

You can replace the salted fish with chicken, beef or any seafood. The yam stalks can be replaced with pucuk ubi, carrots, potatoes and the like.

If you omit the chillies and the turmeric powder, you can use fresh prawns and cabbage instead.

Still, just for colour and a little more flavour, add in a few chunky slices of red chilli after the dish is cooked. Yummy!

(c) 2008 New Straits Times. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.