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Sambal Telur (Sambal Egg)

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Nasi Lemak or Coconut Milk Rice wrapped in banana leaf is an all time Malaysian favorite dish. The traditional Nasi Lemak basically comes with a handful of fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, cucumbers and Sambal Egg. The dish sounds really simple, but we could just gobble down and be satisfied with a plain Nasi Lemak and lots of Sambal. Yes, the key ingredient to one great Nasi Lemak is of course the Sambal.

Sambal or Grounded Red Chili is one of the important components in traditional Malay cooking. The basic ingredient is just the fresh red chilies, then you start adding a little bit here and there of garlic, shallot, ginger, tamarind or others for a more robust flavored  Sambal. Once you do a couple of try outs in making your own Sambal, you can always prepare a full list of scrumptious Sambal dishes, such as Sambal Okra, Sambal Sotong, Sambal Asparagus with Shrimp, Vegetable Curry and etc.

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Sambal Cuttlefish / Sotong

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We went to the market and wanted to get some fresh fishes, somehow the fresh cuttlefish laying on the seafood ice counter looked so tempting that attracted us so much to get it. I picked up a whole nice and big cuttlefish. So it was for the dinner, Sambal Cuttlefish or so called  Sambal Sotong.

The Sambal Sotong is usually served with Nasi Lemak (Malay Style Coconut fragrant steamed rice) or Nasi Bungkus (Pre-packed Coconut Rice) you can find in any Malay stalls. As previously mentioned, Sambal is a chili based paste used widely in cooking for Malay cuisine. Sambal is prepared from scratch with dried chilies, fresh chilies, garlic, ginger, shallots and other ingredients, grounded into paste. One important cooking tip is to cook the chili paste with oil on low heat until the oil oozes from the paste, or separated from each others.  The chili will turn into deep red in color, add some seasoning to taste.

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Curry Vegetable / Sayur Lodeh (素菜咖哩)

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We always cook Curry Chicken and never really try on Curry Vegetable. I guess it is more troublesome by just to prepare different types of vegetables, rinse, cut and pre-cook in order to make the dish. However I’ve decided to give it a try as a challenge and great to consume more vegetables too.

Below is just a simple guideline on the types of vegetables to be prepared for this dish. You can always opt in or out on the varieties based on your preference. The most important is actually to make the ground spice from scratch and to adjust the right taste during cooking. You need to adjust the seasoning when cooking. This is a Malay style Curry Vegetable or so called Sayur Lodeh, Curry Vegetable Stew.  Since this was my first time of making the Curry Vegetable, I gave it 3.5 out of 5 difficulty level. If you think this is too complicated, you can always use the easy ready made vegetable/ chicken curry paste available in the Asian market. Next time I will try it out for a simpler and quicker version.

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KangKung Belacan (馬來盞炒空心菜/馬來風光)

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I just picked up a bunch of fresh KangKung, which is water spinach or water convolvulus (空心菜) from the Asian market. It’s been some time we didn’t cook this. Bel and I love this vegetable dish especially when it is cooked with Sambal Belacan. Again? Yes! In fact Kangkung Belacan is a signature dish in Malay recipes and yet  it is another must-order-dish when you visit Malaysian restaurant. In Chinese translation, this dish is a representation of Malaysian style cuisine (馬來風光).

Cooking with Sambal Belacan is indeed an unique style of cooking in Malay cuisine.  Some people might not like the fishy smell from the Belacan or shrimp paste, but once you have tried the prepared dish you will love it. The Belacan brings out the fresh and sweetness of the dish and gives a pungent aroma that you can’t resist. There are so many dishes that you can incorporate with these two main ingredients. See Bel’s other related posts such as the Sambal Okra, Sambal Belacan Asparagus, Rojak, Indonesian Fried Rice for more cooking with Sambal Belacan.

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Sambal Belacan Asparagus with Shrimp

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I went to the market to get breakfast and saw the asparagus was on sale, immediately I picked up a bunch home.  On Sunday I was thinking to make the asparagus and shrimp combination with Sambal Belacan. Previously I’ve made the Stir Fry Asparagus with Clam in white sauce. If you want something more exotic, you definitely have to try this. But my roommate had reminded me I cannot eat spicy food because I just had my upper wisdom teeth removed last Friday. No spicy food, no solid food, no drinking from straw, no alcohol …. and so forth of restrictions from my dentist. I guess there is nothing but liquids, porridge and soup for me this week.

Anyway, I still ended up cooking the Malaysian style Sambal Belacan Asparagus with Shrimp as this looks far more tempting, so all of these go to Eric as he loves spicy food. I used a super easy and lazy way of making the Sambal Belacan and it came out just great. I used the pre-made Sambal Oelek bought from the Asian market, it is grounded red chili and garlic, stored in a clear round plastic bottle with a green lid, and a chicken symbol in the front. Don’t confuse with Siriracha which is a chili paste. This Sambal Oelek you can still see the chili seeds, sometimes I use it for dipping sauce too.

To make Sambal from scratch check on the Sambal Okra for the preparation of  it.

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Lama Kitchen is a food and cooking blog fills with savory food with great cooking recipes and ideas for those of you who love food and home cooked meals. Read more