Where is my cake? I Can’t See!–Famous Sarawak Midnight Cake (Cake Seri kaya Sarawak, Kek Belachan, Kek Hati Parit) revisited.. (砂朥越深夜蛋糕)

 

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UPDATED POST ON 8-9-2014

I have decided to prepare this cake this afternoon as I craved for this cake… I don’t usually prepare this cake because it is addictive, rather costly and time consuming. Even in Sarawak, this cake was only available during festivals such as Hari Raya Aidilfiltri..

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When I posted in the Facebook, most members of Facebook Group who have tasted the cake said that it is nice, rich and dense. For those that they purchased, it is also very expensive due to the cost of ingredients. Further discussion also revealed that this cake is also called Kek Hati Parit and Kek Belachan because its darkness resemble the shrimp paste.

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INTRODUCTION

Sarawak  is one of the states in Malaysia located in the island of Borneo. It has many unique cuisines and one of the rather unique pastries is the Sarawak Midnight Cake as mentioned in this post and another one more famous cake is the Sarawak layered cake or Kek Lapis Sarawak that looks below.

  Sarawak Layered cake: pic courtesy of http://senai.olx.com.my/

This post is concerned about Sarawak Midnight Cake or more well known locally as Seri kaya Sarawak Cake (hereinafter referred to as “Seri kaya Sarawak). Note that kaya is also known as coconut jam made using coconut milk, eggs and sugars.

Seri kaya Sarawak has lots of names. It is synonymous with “Black Cake” (Kek hitam), “Sarawak Black Forest Cake”, “Belachan Cake” ( a type of shrimp paste) or the more Americanized name of “Sarawak Midnight Cake!” 

So from the name Seri kaya, Midnight Cake, Belachan Cake what can we say about the cake? As can be inferred from its names, the cake has Kaya (coconut egg jam) with a belachan shape (and color) and it’s DARK in color. Recipes are calling to use various coloring agents to darken the cake be it artificial coloring, chocolate molasses, Sarawak black palm sugars, chocolate paste and even unconventional dark soya sauce. 

The uniqueness of this cake is that it is a moist, rich and dense steamed cake. 

 


WHY THIS CAKE

While I was writing some thing about Sarawak Cuisines in the Authentic Sarawak Food and History Page, Seri kaya Sarawak is one of the cakes that I have mentioned. After writing the post, I really felt the urge to make the cake since I have not tasted this cake for more than 15 years at least. 

When I was in Kuching,Sarawak, during Chinese New Year, one relative used to give us this cake and during Hari Raya time (a Muslim festival whereby we do house visit), whenever I visited my Malay friends, I will always look out for this cake. I usually can’t stop eating the cake because it is just so yummy.. Looking at the picture of the cakes made me drooling and therefore I have decided to bake my own cake.

Food bloggers some time called this cake “secretive cake” and most of them do not willing to provide a recipe to the cake, They just bake the cake and show to the readers. Even if you can get hold of some recipes, the recipes that you  have collected can be very different for each recipe. Be it the ratio, types of ingredients used, preparation method, everyone will claimed theirs  were the best.

For me, too many recipes is equivalent to no recipe. I have decided to create my own cake based on my memoirs on the texture of the cake and aroma of the cake. I have analyzed various recipes and come out with this recipe that I want to share with readers today.

This is a rather simple recipe by passing a number of traditional methods of baking and skipped some unimportant ingredients usually used by other recipes. The output is at least 90%-95% similar to the cakes that I have tasted many years ago. (Note: this cake has a very distinct taste and it should be a moist, dense cake with fragrance of Horlicks (chocolate malt) and Milo).


WHAT YOU NEED

Most of the ingredients that was used are the breakfast beverages items.

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  • 125 g of Milo
  • 125 g of Ovaltine Malt Drinks – Most recipe called for Horlicks but I have substituted this with Ovaltine Malt drinks as the price is at least 50% cheaper but the taste is quite indifferent;
  • 125g of  condensed milk or sweetened creamer
  • 250g of Kaya (coconut egg jam)

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  • 125 gram of brown sugar
  • 250 gram of eggs (about 4-5)
  • 250 gram of unsalted butter – melted
  • 2.5 table spoons of chocolate emulco
  • 250 gram of plain flour (not in the picture above)

 

Do you see any trend in the measurements of the above recipe? The recipe can be summarized again in the following ratio.

Brown sugar+Condensed milk : Milo + Ovaltine :Plain Flour : Coconut Jam = 250g : 250g : 250g : 250g = 1  :   1   :  1  :   1

The picture below summary all the ingredients

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

These steps of preparation are rather unconventional. Conventional method will advise the use of creaming method (meaning beating of sugar and butter). The creaming step is mainly used if you want a fluffier and lighter cake.

However, as this cake is supposed to be moist and DENSE, therefore, I do not use the creaming method. I have used the mixer purely for mixing purposes. In all the steps, just ensure that the mixer is at low speed and as long as the ingredients are well mixed, just put another ingredient in. Well mixed basically means that the color are consistent. This mixing method will saves you a lot of time as compared to the creaming method.

If you do not have a mixer, you can mix it manually and it shouldn’t be very difficult as most ingredients are liquid and has lot of moisture content.

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  • In a mixing bowl, put the brown sugar, condensed milk and melted butter together. Beat at low to medium speed;  It will take the most 1-2 minutes and look like the batter in pic 3.
  • Add in the cracked eggs and continue beating at the same speed until well mixed.

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  • Add in the coconut jam (kaya) and continue to beat at same speed for 1 minutes.
  • Note that I have used the Nonya Kaya which is greenish in color. However, you can also use other types of kaya such as gula melaka kaya (dark brownish) or Hainanese kaya (orange to light brownish).
  • Add in the Milo and Ovaltine (chocolate malt and can use Horlicks as well) and continue to beat for another 1 minutes or until color consistency is reached.

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  • After adding Ovaltine and Milo, you will note that the color start to turn brownish. As Ovaltine and Milo will coagulate and takes a while to dissolve, you just have to ensure that there are no more lumps in the mixture.
  • Sieve the plain flour into the mixture and continue to mix until color consistency is reached.
  • Plain flour shall be used and not the cake flour or self raising flour and no baking powder or baking soda is needed. THIS IS A DENSE CAKE and therefore, you do not want your cakes to be too fluffy.

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  • After it is ready, add in 2 table spoons of chocolate emulco (alternative chocolate paste, black palm sugar, brown color agent) and beat until the there is no more lumps and color is consistent. It takes another 1-2 minutes.
  • If you use black palm sugar, there is no need to use brown sugar. Volume will be 150g black palm sugar.

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  • Get ready a 6 inch square tin, grease the sides and bottom, dust with wheat flour.
  • Greasing can be done with any fats such as cooking oil etc. I have used the wrapper for the butter to grease the sides. Alternatively, you can just use the left over melted butter in your bowl to grease the side. This is something not usually presented in the recipe books but I have purposely put it here to share with readers since it is a good practice to “conserve” world resources, joking.

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  • Get ready a steamer and bring the water to boil. As this cake is very dense, therefore, it need a few hours of steaming. That steaming process can be rather long reaching 2-3 hours and if it an 8 inch tin, may need 4-5 hours.
  • Pour your batter into the baking tin and cover with aluminum foil. This is to avoid the condensation of water vapors dripping into the cake batter making it hard to get cooked.
  • When the water boiled, put in the cake tin and steaming over medium to high heat for 3-4 hours.
  • Note that how long it takes to cook will depend on lots of factors including the size of baking tins you used (a big baking tin with a shallower batter will be faster to get cooked than a smaller tin), the environment (in an enclosed environment it will be easier to get cooked than in a well ventilated area).
  • As a guideline, after 2 hours of steaming, you can slightly lift up the aluminum foil and see if the batter was set. Set means when you push, the batter wouldn’t move. Usually, the middle part is the part that takes longer to cook.
  • Whatever you do for this process, you have to be careful to minimize the heat loss, otherwise it will take time to get enough heat for the cake to rise again and some may not be able to rise as the cake structure had been destroyed.
  • If there is not enough water, just boil some hot water and pour inside the steamer carefully. You may need to replenish the water 2-3 times.

 

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  • The cake is cooked when it looks like the first picture. To counter ensure that it is cooked, use some stick to pierce down the batter and see if anything sticky in your stick. If none, the cake is ready.
  • Let it rest for say 30 minutes and transfer to your cake rake if you want. Note that when it is hot, the cake structure can be very fragile, cooling will gel backed the structure . So, any handling have to be done gently.
  • The 1st picture showed the cake just come out from the steamer. After about 1.5 hour of resting, I dusted with some Ovaltine and Milo (optional) powder. You can see from the cross section of the cake that it is very moist and dense.
  • Cutting the cakes into the desired size, serve with or without sauce.


Serving Suggestions

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  • Picture one is serving without any sauce.
  • Picture two to four is serving with evaporated milk and some dusted with Ovaltine and Milo powder. Fresh milk can also be used.
  • In picture four, I have decided to turn it into some form of wet dessert soaking in milk. As the texture is very soft, you can actually turn it into any shape with it. Trust me, it wouldn’t compromise the original taste. The original taste is very strong and this will smoothen out the strong cocoa and chocolate malt flavor.

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CONCLUSION

  • This is a super rich and dense cake. You can treat it as another form of chocolate mud cake or American midnight fudge cake. Taking a bite is resembling like having a scope of butter, coconut jam, chocolate malt, condense milk all at once which is extremely smooth and with the nice aromatic smell of breakfast beverages.
  • The origin of this cake is still unknown but it is unique that all the main ingredients are related to the breakfast items such as Milo, Horlicks, condensed milks and coconut jams used for toast. Could this be influenced by the British during the British colonization of Sarawak before 1945’s? Only coconut jam and black palm sugar is quite local and all other ingredients are most imported or originated from European countries. 

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  • The Western version of fudge cake or midnight cake requires chocolates, using the creaming method and utilizing the oven for baking. As oven is a luxury in traditional Sarawak, steaming method was used instead. Imported chocolate will cost a bomb and therefore these were substituted by breakfast beverages. Does it sound logical? Otherwise, how can an isolated island with so much diverse culture can come out with such a rich and nice cake like the desserts in Western countries? Let me know your opinion.
  • Like Sarawak Laksa paste, too secretive a recipe and too many versions of a recipe will equivalent to no recipe. I have simplified the ratio and the preparation method with no compromise in the texture and taste of my cakes.

I hoped for those who never try this cake before, please try to make one and you will never regret it. Hope that you enjoy the  post and happy reading. Cheers

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 28 July 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  


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FOOD PREPARATION SERIES INDEX

 
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The following are temporary indices for all recipes issued by Guaishushu in both https://kwgls.wordpress.com and Guaishushu’s Facebook Page. The index shall be for temporary references only.

 

 

Desserts:

 

Aloe Vera

Some Aloe Vera Sweet Fruit Dessert Just Specially For You, Dear!

Barley Peanut Soup

Easy Peasy Barley Bean Curd Sheets Sweet Soup (腐竹薏米甜汤)

Black Glutinous Rice

What? Having Rice as A Dessert- The Nutritious Black Glutinous Rice Porridge

Sweet Potato Soup

Malaysian Singaporean Chinese Food–Sweet Potato Soup Dessert

Barley/Black Glutinous Rice

X4 – Black Glutinous Rice and Barley Sweet Porridge (血糯薏米甜粥)

Honey Dew Granita

C1 Honey Dew and Cantaloupe Granita  哈密瓜奇异果挫冰

Poached Bosc Pears & Dragon Fruits

X3-Chinese Style Poached Pear and Dragon Fruits Desserts (博斯克梨龙珠果炖冰糖)

Bubur Cha Cha

X5 – Bubur Cha Cha (摩摩喳喳)

 

 

Drinks:

 

Chrysanthemum Tea

Come and have a cup of Chrysanthemum Tea (菊花茶)

Hawthorn Ume Tea

Need A Drink To Repair Your Vocal Cord? Hawthorn Ume Is The Tea For You!

Roselle Tea

 Game To Try Some “Wild Hibiscus” Tea………….?(洛神花茶)

Rhoeo Tricolor Tea

Purple is mysterious, purple is nobly and a purple drink is definitely lovely! – Rhoeo Tricolor Tea (如意兰茶,蚌兰花茶,红竹叶茶)

Hedyotis Diffusa

 Snake Tongue Tea? Gosh.. I Am Going Away……白花蛇舌草罗汉果茶

   

Breads

 

Sarawak Style Butter Buns

Homesick Buns? Yes, I am homesick of Sarawak Style Butter Buns..

Roast Meat Buns

P1 – Roast Meat Bun (烧肉包)

 

 

Cakes/Muffins/Scones

 

Banana Cake

P2 – Banana Cake (香蕉蛋糕)

Butter Cake/Pound Cake

1 Butter + 1 Sugar + 1Egg + 1 Flour + 1 Milk = Mrs. NgSK’s Butter Cake-Guaishushu’s Version

Butter Cake/Pound Cake Hey, My Chick Want To Eat My Zebra Pound Cake !

Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake

The Plights of Kuey Neng Ko…The Traditional Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake…

Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake My Steamed Sponge Cake (Kuey Neng Ko) Is Full Of Gas。。。。 (汽水鸡蛋糕) 

Steamed Sugar Cake

P3-Steamed Sugar Cake (白糖糕)

Microwave Mug Cake

Microwaved Mug Cakes, Another Quick Alternative to Baked and Steamed Cakes…

Sarawak Midnight Cake

Where is my cake? I Can’t See!–Famous Sarawak Midnight Cake (Cake Seri kaya Sarawak) revisited..

Grapefruit Chiffon Cake

Grapefruit Chiffon with Grapefruit Citrus Glaze,… Ever Try This?

Carrot Muffins

Simple Carrot Muffins for Your Love Ones…

Scones

Basic But Presentable, Basic But Irresistible…Basic Raisin Scones Shared…

Tapioca Cake

CCC – Cheesy Cassava Cake–A Modified Version of The Traditional Nonya Kuih Bengka Ubi

Cake Decoration Ideas

From Plain to Eye Catching…From Muffins to Elegant Celebration Cakes

 

 

Cheese Cakes

 

Ferraro Rocher Ice Cream

Simple, Tasty, Elegant …Chilled Ferrero Rocher Oreo Ice Cream Cheese Cake

Durian Cheese Cake

King of Fruits + Cream Cheese = Durian Cheesecakes, Game to Try?

 

 

Cookies

 

Pineapple Tarts

What A Golf Ball Have To Do With A Pineapple? Well, It Is The Famous South East Asian Pineapple Tarts

 

 

Puddings

 

Bread Puddings

Who Said Bread Puddings Must Be Prepared As Such…..Bread Puddings “Reinvented”

Cake Puddings P4 – Cake Puddings (蛋糕布丁)

Cookie Puddings

Creative Food Series – Cookie Puddings 1

Cookie Puddings

Cookie Puddings – 2

 

 

Snacks

 

Nonya Chang 

Is there any relationship between Dragon in a boat and a Peranakan Women?….The process of making Nonya Chang revisited…(Part I)

Nonya Chang 

Is there any relationship between Dragon in a boat and a Peranakan Women?….The process of making Nonya Chang revisited…(Part II)

Popiah

Malaysian Singaporean Chinese Food–Popiah Sarawak Style

Kueh Pie Tee

Malaysian Singaporean Chinese Food -Kueh Pie Tee

Roasted Peanuts

C2 – Spiced Roasted Peanut (香脆花生)

 

 

Rice and Porridges

 

Chicken Rice

Why Not Cook Your Mother A Meal Of Chicken Rice This Coming Mother’s Day?

Nasi Goreng Aruk

 Are you kidding? You don’t need oil to fry rice?– The authentic Sarawak Cuisine–Aruk Fried Rice

Fried Rice

N1 – Nameless Fried Rice (无名炒饭)

White Gourd Braised Rice

N2 – White Gourd Braised Rice (白莆焖饭)

Pork Porridge

N3- Pork Porridge (肉粥

 

 

Noodles and Pasta Dishes

 

Kolo Beehoon

Food Preparation Series–Kolo Beehoon

Sarawak Laksa

Hey, My Laksa Secret Recipe Was Stolen!!!……… An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (PART I)

Sarawak Laksa

Hey, I have invented my own Sarawak Laksa Paste Recipe !!!……… An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (PART II)

Sarawak Laksa

Hi, Let Start Cooking the Laksa …. An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (Part III)

Singapore Prawn Noodles

Prawn noodles? Hokkien noodles?… No, it is Singapore Hokkien Fried Prawn Noodles (新加玻福建炒虾面)

Tom Yam Noodles

Bachelor’s Tomyam Noodles–Quick And Nice…

Tomato Yimin Noodles

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)– 13-7-2013–Tomato Yimin Noodles (茄汁伊面)

Pasta Sauce

Let’s See How An Asian Make The Tomato Pasta Sauce From Scratch and How He Baked His Pasta….

 

 

Meat and Savoury Dishes

 

Korma Chicken

Special – What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)– 22-7-2013–Korma Chicken (科尔马鸡肉)

Grilled Chicken

M1- Chinese Style Grilled Chicken (中式烤鸡)

Ginger Chicken

M2 – Ginger Chicken (姜丝鸡)

Soya Sauce Chicken

M4- Braised Chicken with Soya Sauce (酱油鸡)

Minced Pork with Taukwa

Creative Food Series–Minced Pork Belly with Taukwa

Miso Pork Belly

M3 – Miso Pork Belly (味增五花)

Meat Rolls

Hey, This is not Italian Meat Rolls, It Is Chinese Meat Rolls Called Ngoh Hiang

 

 

Vegetarian Dishes

 

Tempeh

Tempeh Revisited – Sweet And Spicy Tempeh And Oven Baked Honey Tempeh

Vegetable fritters

Vege Vege Vegetable Fritters–Indonesian’s Bakwan Sayuran

Vegetables

Blanching Vegetables in Chinese Cooking – 利用汆烫准备可口的中式的菜”肴

Chinese Lettuce

V2 – Blanched Chinese Lettuce With Fermented Bean Curd Sauce (白腐乳生菜胆)- Vegetarian

Bitter Gourd & Chinese Mustard

V3- Braised Bitter Gourd With Chinese Mustard (苦瓜焖芥菜)

Shark Fin Melon Soup

S6 – Vegetarian Shark Fin Melon Soup (素鱼翅瓜羹)

 

 

Vegetable Dishes

 

Luffa

D1-Braised luffa/tower gourd with egg* 蛋汁炆丝瓜

Preserved Mustard

D4 – Foochow Preserved Mustard Fried With Minced Meat (福州糟菜炒肉碎)

Winged Beans

D7 – Fried Winged Beans With Minced Meat (肉碎四棱豆)

Kailan with Prawns

V1 – Blanched Kailan With Prawn (芥兰虾球)

Romaine Lettuce Miso

V4 – Blanch Romaine lettuce with miso sauce (味真酱罗明旦)

 

 

Tofu and Egg Dishes

 

Minced Taukwa Omelete

D2 – Minced Taukwa Omelete (豆干蛋饼)

Braised Egg & Tofu

D3 – Braised Eggs and Bean Curd (豆干卤蛋)

Bean Curd Omelete

D5-Beancurd Omelet (豆干蛋饼

Celery Omelete

D6- Celery Omelete (西芹蛋饼)

Steamed Tofu

D8-Steamed Tofu With Eggs (豆腐蒸蛋)

Salted Turnip Omelete

D9 – Salted Turnip Omelete (菜脯蛋饼)素

Devilled Eggs

 Devilled Egg- Simplicity Rules…

   

Soup Dishes

 

Sweet Corn Soup

S1 – Sweet Corn Pork Rib Soup 玉米排骨汤)

Carrot Soup

S2 – White Carrot Pork Rib Soup (白萝卜排骨汤

Double Mushroom Soup

S3 – Double Mushroom Chicken Soup (双菇鸡汤)

Bitter Gourd Pineapple Soup

S4-Bitter Gourd Pineapple Pork Rib Soup (苦瓜黄梨排骨汤)

Chinese Napa Soup

S5 – Chinese Cabbage (Napa) Soup ( 大白菜汤)

Salted Vegetable Duck Soup

Salted Vegetable Duck Soup (咸菜鸭)– A Quick and Easy Way to Prepare This Traditional Soup Dish

 

 

Interesting Cooking Ingredients

 

Chilli

Burnt, Hot, Spicy– I am running away!!!– Understanding Chilli Pepper and Making Of Chilli Sauce

Belachan

Can You Stand The Smell of Belachan (Shrimp Paste)?

Belachan

Z1 – Belachan (Shrimp Paste) – Roasting Belachan

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What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 5-8-2013

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1 Shrimp paste chicken 虾酱鸡
2 Lotus root pork rib soup 莲藕排骨汤
3 Blanched kailan with pork slices 芥兰猪柳
4 Fresh Coriander Fried with Fish Cake and Bean Curd 鱼饼豆腐炒芫茜
5 Spicy Seaweed Stripes 香辣海带丝

Fresh Coriander Fried with Fish Cake and Bean Curd (鱼饼豆腐炒芫茜)

This is a small household dish that you can hardly find in restaurants or even recipe books. Generally, Fish cakes and Taukwa (beancurd of a lesser moisture content) were cut into small pieces. Have some oil in your wok, stir fried some chopped garlic or/and shallots until golden brown or until the aroma starts to emit. Add the cut taukwa or fish cakes and fried until well mixed. Since both taukwa and fish cakes are cooked, there is no need to stir fried very long. The objectives of stir frying is just to let the taste blends. Add in fresh coriander leaves (alternative: Chinese celery 芹菜), add seasonings of your choice and scoop out to serve. Seasoning I have chosen this time is sugar, salt and dark soya sauce. Because there are fish cakes and I hate the fishy smell, I have added some white pepper. This is a dish that should be well liked by both children and adults and I usually cooked this to go with porridges or white rice.

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Shrimp paste chicken (虾酱鸡)

This is an extremely popular Chinese dish in Singapore.  In any stall located in the coffee stops that sells dishes to order (煮炒),you will bound to find this dish in the menu. Most families include mine will order this dish when we eat out!  The recipe of this dish is adapted from  http://www.noobcook.com/prawn-paste-chicken. It is rather unusual to have a Chinese dish that were made with Belachan or shrimp paste and become so popular. So far, I have never taste such dish before even in Malaysia.

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Spicy Seaweed (香辣海带丝)

This is a dish that were my relatives brought from Kuching Sarawak. I have ever explicitly said that I do  not like seaweed dishes and I can’t stand the  smell. My relatives who come here and visit me here brought some vegetarian spicy seaweed and what surprises me is that there  were no such “funny sea smell” which I can hardly described. This is the first time I have a seaweed dishes that do not have such strange smell and I finished half of the plate. My relatives claimed that this is another species of seaweed and do not have such smell and I am in doubt whether or not this is true…

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Blanched Kailan With Pork Slices (芥兰猪柳)

A simple dish just blanced the Kailan, add seasonings and set aside. Prior to this, pork slices were marinated with light soya sauce, sesame oil, pepper and some corn flour. Blanched the pork slices and placed it on top of the vegetable, sprinkled with sesame seed. I have mentioned that I am trying to blanch my vegetable dish instead of stir fried the vegetables. So far, I have blanched most types of vegetables and apparently no complaints from the family members.

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Hope you have a nice day and cheers.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 3-7-2013

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I thought I might change my format a bit with regard to this series. I am still trying to brush up my food porn skills!

On 3 July 2013, white rice served with:

1 Braised Chicken with Soya Sauce 酱油鸡
2 Blanched Ladies finger with Sambal Belachan 虾酱羊角豆
3 Steamed baby white promfret with Chinese Fermented Black Beans 小白鲳鱼蒸甜豆豉
4 Tomato Egg Soup 番茄蛋汤

One of my readers is asking me about my braised chicken wing on 30-6-2013, and  I promised her that I will demonstrate to her and I will publish in my this blog’s Facebook Page ‘Guaishushu Page”. This dish is relatively easy and I have used one chicken instead of chicken wings. Of course, we can’t finish the whole chicken, so expect that I will “recycle” this leftover food tomorrow.

As for the blanched ladies finger with sambal belachan (a type of shrimp paste sauce) and mayonnaise sauce, you can read my rationale of my dish here.

Today’s soup is a type of quick soup, meaning, soup that I cook 10-20 minutes before the meals as opposed to soups that I have boiled for an hour. It is a very simple soup using tomato and eggs and common in People’s Repubic of China of household cooking. However, I seldom cook it unless when I run of time. You can add tofu or glass noodles to boost the soup volume if you want to.

Happy reading and cheers. I am tired and exhausted!  haha

 

 

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Where is my cake? I Can’t See!–Famous Sarawak Midnight Cake (Cake Seri kaya Sarawak) revisited..

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INTRODUCTION

Sarawak  is one of the states in Malaysia located in the island of Borneo. It has many unique cuisines and one of the rather unique pastries is the Sarawak Midnight Cake as mentioned in this post and another one more famous cake is the Sarawak layered cake or Kek Lapis Sarawak that looks below.

  Sarawak Layered cake: pic courtesy of http://senai.olx.com.my/

This post is concerned about Sarawak Midnight Cake or more well known locally as Seri kaya Sarawak Cake (hereinafter referred to as “Seri kaya Sarawak). Note that kaya is also known as coconut jam made using coconut milk, eggs and sugars.

Seri kaya Sarawak has lots of names. It is synonymous with “Black Cake” (Kek hitam), “Sarawak Black Forest Cake”, “Belachan Cake” ( a type of shrimp paste) or the more Americanized name of “Sarawak Midnight Cake!” 

So from the name Seri kaya, Midnight Cake, Belachan Cake what can we say about the cake? As can be inferred from its names, the cake has Kaya (coconut egg jam) with a belachan shape (and color) and it’s DARK in color. Recipes are calling to use various coloring agents to darken the cake be it artificial coloring, chocolate molasses, Sarawak black palm sugars, chocolate paste and even unconventional dark soya sauce. 

The uniqueness of this cake is that it is a moist, rich and dense steamed cake. 

 


WHY THIS CAKE

While I was writing some thing about Sarawak Cuisines in the Authentic Sarawak Food and History Page, Seri kaya Sarawak is one of the cakes that I have mentioned. After writing the post, I really felt the urge to make the cake since I have not tasted this cake for more than 15 years at least. 

When I was in Kuching,Sarawak, during Chinese New Year, one relative used to give us this cake and during Hari Raya time (a Muslim festival whereby we do house visit), whenever I visited my Malay friends, I will always look out for this cake. I usually can’t stop eating the cake because it is just so yummy.. Looking at the picture of the cakes made me drooling and therefore I have decided to bake my own cake.

Food bloggers some time called this cake “secretive cake” and most of them do not willing to provide a recipe to the cake, They just bake the cake and show to the readers. Even if you can get hold of some recipes, the recipes that you  have collected can be very different for each recipe. Be it the ratio, types of ingredients used, preparation method, everyone will claimed theirs  were the best.

For me, too many recipes is equivalent to no recipe. I have decided to create my own cake based on my memoirs on the texture of the cake and aroma of the cake. I have analyzed various recipes and come out with this recipe that I want to share with readers today.

This is a rather simple recipe by passing a number of traditional methods of baking and skipped some unimportant ingredients usually used by other recipes. The output is at least 90%-95% similar to the cakes that I have tasted many years ago. (Note: this cake has a very distinct taste and it should be a moist, dense cake with fragrance of Horlicks (chocolate malt) and Milo).


WHAT YOU NEED

Most of the ingredients that was used are the breakfast beverages items.

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  • 125 g of Milo
  • 125 g of Ovaltine Malt Drinks – Most recipe called for Horlicks but I have substituted this with Ovaltine Malt drinks as the price is at least 50% cheaper but the taste is quite indifferent;
  • 125g of  condensed milk or sweetened creamer
  • 250g of Kaya (coconut egg jam)

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  • 125 gram of brown sugar
  • 250 gram of eggs (about 4-5)
  • 250 gram of unsalted butter – melted
  • 2.5 table spoons of chocolate emulco
  • 250 gram of plain flour (not in the picture above)

 

Do you see any trend in the measurements of the above recipe? The recipe can be summarized again in the following ratio.

Brown sugar+Condensed milk : Milo + Ovaltine :Plain Flour : Coconut Jam = 250g : 250g : 250g : 250g = 1  :   1   :  1  :   1

The picture below summary all the ingredients

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

These steps of preparation are rather unconventional. Conventional method will advise the use of creaming method (meaning beating of sugar and butter). The creaming step is mainly used if you want a fluffier and lighter cake.

However, as this cake is supposed to be moist and DENSE, therefore, I do not use the creaming method. I have used the mixer purely for mixing purposes. In all the steps, just ensure that the mixer is at low speed and as long as the ingredients are well mixed, just put another ingredient in. Well mixed basically means that the color are consistent. This mixing method will saves you a lot of time as compared to the creaming method.

If you do not have a mixer, you can mix it manually and it shouldn’t be very difficult as most ingredients are liquid and has lot of moisture content.

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  • In a mixing bowl, put the brown sugar, condensed milk and melted butter together. Beat at low to medium speed;  It will take the most 1-2 minutes and look like the batter in pic 3.
  • Add in the cracked eggs and continue beating at the same speed until well mixed.

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  • Add in the coconut jam (kaya) and continue to beat at same speed for 1 minutes.
  • Note that I have used the Nonya Kaya which is greenish in color. However, you can also use other types of kaya such as gula melaka kaya (dark brownish) or Hainanese kaya (orange to light brownish).
  • Add in the Milo and Ovaltine (chocolate malt and can use Horlicks as well) and continue to beat for another 1 minutes or until color consistency is reached.

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  • After adding Ovaltine and Milo, you will note that the color start to turn brownish. As Ovaltine and Milo will coagulate and takes a while to dissolve, you just have to ensure that there are no more lumps in the mixture.
  • Sieve the plain flour into the mixture and continue to mix until color consistency is reached.
  • Plain flour shall be used and not the cake flour or self raising flour and no baking powder or baking soda is needed. THIS IS A DENSE CAKE and therefore, you do not want your cakes to be too fluffy.

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  • After it is ready, add in 2 table spoons of chocolate emulco (alternative chocolate paste, black palm sugar, brown color agent) and beat until the there is no more lumps and color is consistent. It takes another 1-2 minutes.
  • If you use black palm sugar, there is no need to use brown sugar. Volume will be 150g black palm sugar.

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  • Get ready a 6 inch square tin, grease the sides and bottom, dust with wheat flour.
  • Greasing can be done with any fats such as cooking oil etc. I have used the wrapper for the butter to grease the sides. Alternatively, you can just use the left over melted butter in your bowl to grease the side. This is something not usually presented in the recipe books but I have purposely put it here to share with readers since it is a good practice to “conserve” world resources, joking.

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  • Get ready a steamer and bring the water to boil. As this cake is very dense, therefore, it need a few hours of steaming. That steaming process can be rather long reaching 2-3 hours and if it an 8 inch tin, may need 4-5 hours.
  • Pour your batter into the baking tin and cover with aluminum foil. This is to avoid the condensation of water vapors dripping into the cake batter making it hard to get cooked.
  • When the water boiled, put in the cake tin and steaming over medium to high heat for 3-4 hours.
  • Note that how long it takes to cook will depend on lots of factors including the size of baking tins you used (a big baking tin with a shallower batter will be faster to get cooked than a smaller tin), the environment (in an enclosed environment it will be easier to get cooked than in a well ventilated area).
  • As a guideline, after 2 hours of steaming, you can slightly lift up the aluminum foil and see if the batter was set. Set means when you push, the batter wouldn’t move. Usually, the middle part is the part that takes longer to cook.
  • Whatever you do for this process, you have to be careful to minimize the heat loss, otherwise it will take time to get enough heat for the cake to rise again and some may not be able to rise as the cake structure had been destroyed.
  • If there is not enough water, just boil some hot water and pour inside the steamer carefully. You may need to replenish the water 2-3 times.

 

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  • The cake is cooked when it looks like the first picture. To counter ensure that it is cooked, use some stick to pierce down the batter and see if anything sticky in your stick. If none, the cake is ready.
  • Let it rest for say 30 minutes and transfer to your cake rake if you want. Note that when it is hot, the cake structure can be very fragile, cooling will gel backed the structure . So, any handling have to be done gently.
  • The 1st picture showed the cake just come out from the steamer. After about 1.5 hour of resting, I dusted with some Ovaltine and Milo (optional) powder. You can see from the cross section of the cake that it is very moist and dense.
  • Cutting the cakes into the desired size, serve with or without sauce.

Serving Suggestions

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  • Picture one is serving without any sauce.
  • Picture two to four is serving with evaporated milk and some dusted with Ovaltine and Milo powder. Fresh milk can also be used.
  • In picture four, I have decided to turn it into some form of wet dessert soaking in milk. As the texture is very soft, you can actually turn it into any shape with it. Trust me, it wouldn’t compromise the original taste. The original taste is very strong and this will smoothen out the strong cocoa and chocolate malt flavor.

CONCLUSION

  • This is a super rich and dense cake. You can treat it as another form of chocolate mud cake or American midnight fudge cake. Taking a bite is resembling like having a scope of butter, coconut jam, chocolate malt, condense milk all at once which is extremely smooth and with the nice aromatic smell of breakfast beverages.
  • The origin of this cake is still unknown but it is unique that all the main ingredients are related to the breakfast items such as Milo, Horlicks, condensed milks and coconut jams used for toast. Could this be influenced by the British during the British colonization of Sarawak before 1945’s? Only coconut jam and black palm sugar is quite local and all other ingredients are most imported or originated from European countries. 
  • The Western version of fudge cake or midnight cake requires chocolates, using the creaming method and utilizing the oven for baking. As oven is a luxury in traditional Sarawak, steaming method was used instead. Imported chocolate will cost a bomb and therefore these were substituted by breakfast beverages. Does it sound logical? Otherwise, how can an isolated island with so much diverse culture can come out with such a rich and nice cake like the desserts in Western countries? Let me know your opinion.
  • Like Sarawak Laksa paste, too secretive a recipe and too many versions of a recipe will equivalent to no recipe. I have simplified the ratio and the preparation method with no compromise in the texture and taste of my cakes.

I hoped for those who never try this cake before, please try to make one and you will never regret it. Hope that you enjoy the  post and happy reading. Cheers


Blanching Vegetables in Chinese Cooking – 利用汆烫准备可口的中式的”菜”肴

 

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INTRODUCTION

Traditional Chinese cooking don’t usually use the blanching method for cooking its vegetables. Usually, they stir fried with oil in a hot wok or frying pan. 

My mum will usually take out a frying pan, put in some oil, stir fry the garlic or shallots until golden brown, throw in the vegetables, add seasonings, stir fried for another 1-2 minutes and scope in the plate for serving. That is rather traditional and applicable to almost all types of vegetables. The disadvantages of using oil for stir flying vegetables are that the vegetable’s will lose its color and some vitamins will lose in this process.

In most restaurants, realizing that the color of the vegetables will turn less appealing and that the texture will be compromised, the chef will usually blanched the vegetable before stir frying the vegetables. This will  cut short the stir frying time so as to preserve its greenish appearance and some of the vitamins.

In this post, I will share with you the various combinations that you can prepare your vegetable dish using the water blanching method without stir frying but the dishes are equally tasty. 


WHY THIS POST

My son, aged 7 have a slightly high body mass index and was requested by the school authority to participate in the weight reduction program. Knowing that the school is concerning about his weight issue, I have decided to alter my methods of cooking and one of which is by blanching the vegetables instead of stir frying the vegetables. The first meal (blanched kailan with oyster sauce)  was well received by my family members and the whole plate of vegetables were being snatched by my son, daughter and wife within 5 minutes of putting in the table. Seeing such a good response from the family members, I have decided to explore more vegetables and with as many types of dressing as possible..In the next 9 meals that I prepared, I have created different dressings with different vegetables and to my delight, they don’t really notice the difference and my son have requested for more vegetables..


 

BLANCHING METHOD DEFINED..

According to http://chinesefood.about.com,

“Blanching is a process whereby the food is briefly plunged in boiling water for a moment. Sometimes it is then immediately transferred to ice water to stop the cooking process. This technique is commonly used with Chinese vegetables prior to stir-frying. The goal is to bring out the color and flavor of the vegetable without overcooking.source: (http://chinesefood.about.com/od/glossary/g/blanch.htm)”


BLANCHING OF CHRYSANTHEMUM GREEN ILLUSTRATED

In this post, I will share with readers one vegetable dish that I have prepared for my dinner today – Chrysanthemum green with Chinese black vinegar dressing (春菊拌浙醋)。Measurements were intentionally omitted as it is just vegetables plus seasonings all of which can be adjusted to individual tastes.

Chrysanthemum green is a type of vegetables that are quite common in Korean, Japanese , Taiwanese and Cantonese Cuisines. It can be eaten raw but the stems can be slightly tough. It can be stir fried, blanched or cooked in soup or appeared as a garnish in some Chinese dishes like Taiwanese oyster pancake.

 

WHAT YOU NEED

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  • Some chrysanthemum greens (you can chopped the stems into smaller pieces)
  • Some cherry tomatoes
  • Some sesame seeds, fried onion for garnishing
  • Some light soya sauce, black vinegar or lime juice, sesame oils (onion oil), salt, sugar

 

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the vegetables and set aside. As this preparation only deal with blanching, you may wish to soak the vegetables in the water for a longer while to clear all unseen particles and chemicals..
  • Take out a container or salad bowl and put in your condiments. In the above picture, I have included some shredded chili, fried onions, Chinese black vinegar, salt, pepper and sesame oil.
  • In a frying pan, put in some water. Add in pinches of salt (as you can see the white patch next to the red color patch) and a few drops of onion oil (cooking oil also can be used). This feel drop of oils are very important to preserve the color of your blanched vegetables and to keep the juices in the vegetables.
  • When the water is boiling, throw in the chrysanthemum green and let it boiled for about 3 minutes.


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  • Add in the cherry tomatoes and blanched for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Sieve the blanched vegetables and transfer to the salad bowl or the mixing container. Note that I have by passed the step of blanching the vegetable in some ice water as the dish will be served immediately after it is prepared. However, if you prefer, you can dip the blanched vegetable in ice water of about 1 minutes to preserve its crunchiness (not necessary depending on type of vegetables) and color.
  • Stir until well mix and transfer to another plate. Sprinkle with sesame seed and best served hot with rice.

The dish is simple and as chrysanthemum greens are a bit tough, you can blanch it longer and cut into smaller pieces. This dish is full of vitamins and the Chinese black vinegar dressing is just like the French dressing in French cuisines. Of course there are oriental elements such as sesame oil and black vinegar that make it taste like Chinese cuisines. Should I have lime (kalamansi with me), I will use it instead of black vinegar. It is fully flexible be it type of dressings, toppings and vegetables.


VARIATIONS

For the sake of oil less cooking, there are many Chinese vegetable dishes which can use the blanching method instead of traditional stir frying method.

Blanching method of Chinese vegetable dishes like the Western cuisine’s salad preparation is a matter of finding the right combination of vegetables and dressings. Chinese are less prone to eating the vegetables freshly picked (raw), therefore in order to promote healthier eating habitat with minimal amount of fats possible, an intermediary step is to blanch the vegetables .

The following table shows different types of Chinese vegetables that I have ever cooked using the blanching method and different dressings used. Both the list of vegetables and dressings are endless and are open to all types of combinations depending on the chef’s creativities.

Vegetables Meat  (protein)
Kailan
Minced pork
Pak Choy Meat slices/strips
Choy Sim Chicken breast
Broccoli Prawns
White Stem Pak Choy Shredded chickens
Chrysanthemum Greens Pork /chicken floss
Capsicum Baby Shrimps
Celery

Anchovies
Tomatoes Egg omelet strips
etc., etc., etc.  (endless) etc., etc., etc.  (endless)
   
Something to bite Seasonings
Sesame seeds Black Vinegar
crunched nuts Lime/kalamansi juice
Japanese rice seasoning sprinkle Mayonnaise+Tomato sauce (‘000 island)
Macadamia Salt
Chopped chili Sugar
Chopped fresh garlic MSG (if you preferred)
Fried garlics or shallots Onion Oil
Pine seeds Pepper
Dry mushrooms stripes Belachan (shrimp paste)
Shredded century eggs Oyster sauce
etc., etc., etc.  (endless) etc., etc., etc.  (endless)

SAMPLE DISHES

The pictures below are some of the dishes that I have prepared for my family as detailed in “what I have cooked today series”. The preparation are basically the same, blanching and mixed. You can also see more in the linked – PINTEREST BOARD-VEGETABLE DISHES HERE

Blanched mix vegetables with prawns (杂菜虾球)

 

Blanched Baby Kailan with Oyster Sauce (

耗油小芥兰)

Blanched White Stem Pak Choy with anchovies (

小银鱼白菜)

Blanched Broccoli with Minced Pork (

肉碎西兰花)

 

 

 

 

 

Blanch Tri-color Capsicum with Chicken Breast (

三色柿子椒拌鸡柳)

Blanched baby Pak Choy with minced pork (

肉碎拌小奶白)

Pak Choi with Oyster Sauce (

耗油上海青)

Blanched Chye Sim with meat floss (菜心拌肉松)


CONCLUSIONS

In traditional Chinese cooking, blanching of vegetables is generally not common. The exposure of Western Cuisines have made me come out with this fusion which I believed will be acceptable by both Asians and non-Asians. Without stir frying, the vegetables can be equally tasty.

While this resembles salad in western cuisines’ term but it have elements of oriental cooking due to the type of condiments used. It will definitely healthier because fats intake will be limited and more vitamins will be retain in the vegetable resulting from shorter cooking time. It will also eliminate the fear of eating raw vegetables which is supposed to be even more nutritious.

My favorite dressing is a type of dip for my fried fish (light soya sauce + chili + lime juice + shredded garlics + bit of sugar). For me , it blends equally well when I used it for my blanched vegetables. I like to prepare this if I want to lose weight and of course this is an acquired taste. You can invent your own dressing and you will be surprised that how well received blanched vegetables are if the dressings are right!

Why don’t you try my favorite dressing and let me know what you think?

Can You Stand The Smell of Belachan (Shrimp Paste)?

 Re-blog from : asean2015 in Tumblr.com

 

ASEAN Community – Shrimp Paste

Shrimp paste or shrimp sauce, is a common ingredient used in ASEAN cuisine. It is known as terasi (also spelled trassi, terasie) in Indonesian, ngapi (ငါးပိ) in Burmese,kapi (กะปิ) in Thai, Khmer (កាពិ) and Lao language (ນໍາກຸ້ງ), belacan (also spelled belachan,blachang) in Malay, mắm ruốc, mắm tép and mắm tôm in Vietnamese (the name depends on the shrimp used), and bagoong or alamang in Filipino.

It is made from fermented ground shrimp mixed with salt. Some versions are in its wet form such as those in Vietnam and other versions are sun dried and either cut into fist-sized rectangular blocks or sold in bulk. It is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Shrimp paste can be found in most meals in Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Viet Nam and the Philippines. It is often an ingredient in dip for fish or vegetables.

Shrimp pastes vary in appearance from pale liquid sauces to solid chocolate-colored blocks. Shrimp paste produced in Viet Nam is typically a light pinkish gray while the type used for Burmese, Lao, Cambodian and Thai cooking is darker brown. While all shrimp paste has a pungent aroma, that of higher grades is generally milder. Markets near villages producing shrimp paste are the best places to obtain the highest quality product. Shrimp paste varies between different Asian cultures and can vary in smell, texture and saltiness.

Belacan, Malaysia

Belacan, a Malay variety of shrimp paste, is prepared from krill, also known as geragau in Kristang (Portuguese creole spoken in Malaysia) or rebon in Sundanese and Javanese. In Malaysia, normally the krill would be steamed first and after that are mashed into a paste and stored for several months. The fermented shrimp are then prepared, fried and hard-pressed into cakes. William Marsden, an English writer included the word in his “A Dictionary of the Malayan Language” published in 1812.

Belacan is used as an ingredient in many dishes. A common preparation is sambal belacan, made by mixing toasted belacan with chilli peppers, minced garlic, shallot paste and sugar and then fried. Sometime it is toasted to bring out the flavour, but that creates a strong odor.

Terasi, Indonesia

Terasi (trassi in Dutch), an Indonesian variant of dried shrimp paste, is usually purchased in dark blocks, but is also sometimes sold ground. The color and aroma of terasi varies depending on which village produced it. The color ranges from soft purple-reddish hue to darkish brown. In Cirebon, a coastal city in West Java, terasi is made from tiny shrimp (krill) called “rebon”, the very origin of the city’s name. In Sidoarjo, East Java, terasi is made from the mixture of ingredients such as fish, small shrimp (udang), and vegetables. Terasi is an important ingredient in Sambal Terasi, also many other Indonesian cuisine, such as sayur asam (fresh sour vegetable soup), lotek (also called gado-gado, Indonesian style salad in peanut sauce), karedok (similar to lotek, but the vegetables are served raw), and rujak(Indonesian style hot and spicy fruit salad).

On the island of Lombok, Indonesia, a more savory and sweet shrimp paste called lengkareis made.

Bagoong, Philippines

Bagoong, or alamang, or “Ginamos” (in Western Visayas) is Filipino for shrimp paste, made from minute shrimp or krill (alamang) and is commonly eaten as a topping on green mangoes or used as a major cooking ingredient. Bagoong paste varies in appearance, flavor, and spiciness depending on the type. Pink and salty bagoong alamang is marketed as “fresh”, and is essentially the shrimp-salt mixture left to marinate for a few days. This bagoong is rarely used in this form, save as a topping for unripe mangoes. The paste is customarily sauteed with various condiments, and its flavour can range from salty to spicy-sweet. The colour of the sauce will also vary with the cooking time and the ingredients used in the sauteeing. Cincalok is the Malaysian version of ‘fresh’ bagoong alamang.

Unlike in other parts of ASEAN Region and in Western Visayas, where the shrimp isfermented beyond recognition or ground to a smooth consistency, the shrimp in bagoong alamang (in many parts of the Philippines) is readily identifiable, and the sauce itself has a chunky consistency. A small amount of cooked or sauteed bagoong is served on the side of a popular dish called “kare-kare”, an oxtail stew made with peanuts. It is also used as the key flavouring ingredient of a sauteed pork dish, known as binagoongan (lit. “that to which bagoong is applied”). The word bagoong, however, is also connoted with the bonnet mouth and anchovy fish version, bagoong terong.

Ngapi yay, Myanmar

A watery dip or condiment that is very popular in Myanmar, especially the Burmese and Karen ethnic groups. The ngapi (either fish or shrimp, but mostly whole fish ngapi is used) is boiled with onions, tomato, garlic, pepper and other spices. The result is a greenish-grey broth-like sauce, which makes its way to every Burmese dining table. Fresh, raw or blanched vegetables and fruits (such as mint, cabbage, tomatoes, green mangoes, green apples, olives, chilli, onions and garlic) are dipped into the ngapi yay and eaten. Sometimes, in less affluent families, ngapi yay forms the main dish, and also the main source of protein.

Kapi, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand

In Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, shrimp paste (kapi) is an essential ingredient in many types of nam phrik, spicy dips or sauces, and in all Thai curry pastes, such as the paste used inkaeng som. Very popular in Thailand is nam phrik kapi, a spicy condiment made with fresh shrimp paste and most often eaten together with fried pla thu (Short mackerel) and fried, steamed or raw vegetables. In Southern Thailand there are three types of shrimp paste: one made only from shrimp, one containing a mixture of shrimp and fish ingredients, and another paste that is sweet.

Mam ruoc, Viet Nam

Mắm ruốc is a sauce made ​​from shrimp paste form (a small species of shrimp belonging to the genus Acetes Sergestidae, the Decapoda). However, the color and the taste is not the same with shrimp sauce. No fishy shrimp sauce with shrimp paste, add water as possible for sauce and can be used as spices in cooking vegetable in ASEAN Region.

MY THOUGHTS

Belachan or balachan is nothing new to me but for my two kids aged 7 and 9, it is really something that they hates if it uncooked!! Even my mother-in-law refused to cook dishes uses belachan as she complained it is very smelly. In fact, it is if uncooked! But once it is cooked (after frying in oil), I will say it emits a nice aroma that make a lot of people likes it including me.

A lot of people likes the sambal balachan when they frequent Malay food stores that is made from shrimp paste plus chilli plus lime. My mother used to prepare this and we even just dip raw cucumber with this simple sambal belachan sauce.

I tend to believe what make a good sambal balachan and a smelly one is a critical process ofensuring that the balachan is cooked before you add to your chilii. Last time, we used to put it over small fire (under charcoal) until the fragrants comes out (like barbeque of chicken wings), only then we mixed it with chilli, pound it and add some sugar and lime before we serve it as a source. I really missed this. If you don’t cooked it, it will be very smelly!!

As most families in Singapore and Malaysia do not have charcoal stove, one way you can use is to pan fry Belachan over the gas stove over very very small fire until the fragrants comes out.

Belachan though is considered as a Malay cooking ingredient, however, it had been well accepted by the Chinese communities in Singapore and Malaysia. Common belachan dishes in Malaysia and Singapore Chinese community are kangkong or water spinach (甕菜) fried with balachan and belachan chicken (虾酱鸡). Besides kangkong, we fried with lady fingers, long beans, paku or midin, durian flowers, etc etc etc… If you like more creamy, you can add coconut milk (or lemak as in Malay).

Ya, a friend of mine remind me of a specialty in my home town, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. The Chinese hawkers in Kuching do/used to sell something called balachan beehoon. It is actually quite smelly but if you get used to it, you will like it. It is just balachan (without frying), meshed it, mixed with pounded shallots and cooked in a pot of water. Shall i call it “Belachan Soup”? LOL. It was served with rice noodles, sliced cucumber, eggs and “preserved” squid (don’t know how to call it).. Just like durian, it is an acquired taste, either you like or dislike it. I used the terms “used to sell” is because nowadays, it does not appear to be a popular roadside hawker stall item. I wonder if I could still find it when I am back to Kuching.

Lastly, on one trip to Hong Kong, i was surprised to find it in the Lantau Island (if I am not wrong). Cheers to balachan for the role of “uniting” the Asean nations.