Nasi Lemak, or coconut rice, is a staple favourite for most Singaporeans.
There’s a lot to like for this dish – it’s fragrant, aromatic, it’s got wonderful yummy carbo (the coconut rice), it’s always filled with dishes which are spicy( because of its Malay origins) but yet you could whip up some non spicy dishes to cater for the milder folk.
It almost always involves deep fried stuff so everyone gets fat and increase one’s carcinogenic hellishness together.
As a lowly home cook, I like cooking this dish because it allows me to experiment with new dishes or put a twist to existing ones.
Some peeps of mine have been waiting patiently for a dinner invite so I suggested taking a day off to cook this dish for them (yes this dish is quite involved in its cooking so a day of cooking or half a day is required).
“Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread “.
My peeps don’t know they are experimental rats as I am trying out dishes I either haven’t cooked before or seldom do.
So here goes;
This is a standard side dish to go with Nasi Lemak.
I always fry the anchovies over high heat in a good amount of oil until it’s nice and crispy and beginning to brown.
Then I strain all the oil away, and dry fry it for a few minutes more to up the crispy factor.
The piece de resistance ? 3 spoons of sugar and a dash of black sauce.
You are left with a decadent,sticky, crispy, aromatic and salty side dish.
Off to a good start.
The Ultimate Sambal Chilli
Stalls selling Nasi Lemak are judged by their patrons for its sambal chilli. If you produce a to die for sambal, your Nasi lemak is halfway to success.
I start off by using pork lard oil.
I fry minced shallots and minced ginger to start. Then I add a little minced belachan (fermented prawn paste) that has been lightly dry fried or toasted).
In goes blended chilli and mix of a blend of turmeric, galangal and lemongrass.
This is stir fried for 5-10 minutes before adding in 3-5 spoons of sugar.
Finally, I add half a bowl of tamarind water to give it a bit of a sourish kick. Water is then added to dilute the chilli to whatever consistency you like the chilli to be.
Ok this is the sick part.
I add into my chilli deep fried crispy silver fish and crispy pork lard. This thickens up the chilli and involves layers of taste you won’t believe.
Yes ventricular shock city here I come.
But trust me- it’s a crowd killer.
Green chilli beef curry
So the twist here is I use blended green chillies as a base. This just gives the curry a little bit of a different taste from the usual standard beef curry.
I seasoned the beef with turmeric powder and a generous dose of curry powder.
The curry is cooked over medium heat for about 2 hours in diluted coconut water from fresh coconuts. This is to render the beef to be fall off the bone tender.
In the last 30 minutes, I added potatoes and right at the end, thick coconut cream to give it a rich flavour.
“Dirty chilli”- Fried Indian green chilli with lime, mint , Chinchalok and sugar
This is something I thought sounded good in my head so I gave it a try.
I chanced upon these plump green chillies at Tekka market when I went to shop for cockles. The Indian stall owner told me they were from India and were very spicy.
A friend of mine once taught me this chilli dish using “dirty oil” to fry the chilli. The reference to “dirty oil” was that you had to use oil which you have used to fry eg fish and the oil was then dark and pungent but savoury. This flavour somehow infuses the chilli with an incredible flavour.
So I used the oil I had used to fry the anchovies. I fried the plump green chillies in this oil over extremely high heat and added salt. Once cooled, I mixed this chilli oil mixture with mint leaves, lard pieces, sugar and the juice of 8 limes.
Chinchalok is small fermented preserved mini prawns you can get from some dry goods stores in Singapore and Malaysia. I thought it would contrast nicely in a funky way with the spice, mint and lime mix going on so I added 3 spoons of this magic.
I’m still waiting for my peeps to either declare me a domestic goddess or run away screaming when they try this dish.
Clams and cockles lemongrass sambal
Clams and cockles are thoroughly cleaned and soaked in salt water to remove impurities.
It was then blanched in hot water.
I then had the flesh removed and stir fried it with lemon grass and chilli and added a little tamarind water.
Assam squid, quail egg and fishball
I will usually have a dish that is sweet and sour with predominantly tamarind flavours.
This time round I fried turmeric and galangal chilli blends with squid, onions, shallots and lemongrass.
A generous dose of tamarind liquid was then added to slow stew the squid before adding peeled quail eggs and fishballs at the end.
Steamed otah with shallots lime and chilli padi topping
Otah is a barbecued spiced fish paste which is commonly eaten with nasi lemak.
I bought these frozen ready made ones from the market and steamed them for 20 minutes and they’re good to go.
But for a twist, I mixed finely sliced shallots with chilli padi (fiery bird’s eye chilli ) sugar and lime juice. This concoction was then spooned over the otah before serving.
Sambal Sting Ray
Ok this is not usual for nasi lemak. It’s more like a nasi padang kind of dish.
But I met mr sting ray in the market and it was just staring at me.
Ladies fingers with turmeric prawns and sambal
Not usual for nasi lemak. But goes well.
Some people need fibre.
Bitter Gourd with Tempeh and dried flatfish
Second vegetable because one of my peeps love this dish.
I parboiled the bitter gourd so that it’s already half cooked and just needed a good stir fry.
Tempeh is soya bean to add some protein and the deep fried Dover sole flat fish provided the savouriness.