It's WTSIM time again and this round's host, the inimitable Andrew of SpittoonExtra has set us a tough challenge... Indonesian food. Hang on - am I in the wrong movie or something? I re-read the rules and it states that we could include Malaysia at a pinch... phew!
I have never travelled to the Far East and am not all too familiar with the differences of the various cuisines - to tell you the truth, I have yet to find one that I didn't love. Not that I eat Asian food very often (except for my weekly sushi fix), but whatever I have tried (Korean, Vietnamese, Kantonese, Sichuan, ...) I've always found it difficult to choose just one dish - everything with exotic flavours and a bit of spice sounds appealing to me!
I don't think I have been to an Indonesian restaurant before (there are only three in London), but I have certainly had my fair share of Malaysian food, mostly in pan-Asian restaurants, which are popping up all over the place. Andrew asked for something else than Beef Rendang, so I started turning to the wonderful world that is the internet. Even wikipedia is a sad sight when it comes to the culinary history of Indonesia and the big recipe sites offered little that was inspiring. I knew there was one source that I could trust: Rasa Malaysia. I have been a faithful subscriber for months now and await every new post with eager anticipation. (Check it out. Not on an empty stomach, though! It'll leave you drooling over the keyboard.)
In the end, I settled for a really tempting recipe and I really wish I could remember where I found it. (I jotted down melroseflowers.com but for some reason, I couldn't find the right site again) The original recipe wraps the prawn curry into banana leaves and bakes it in the oven. Since I couldn't find any, I just used a casserole... obviously losing out on a stunning visual effect, but this is the perfect recipe for a quick and comforting Asian week-day dinner that's on the table in under thirty minutes...
I had to amend the recipe quite a bit, as I didn't have the right ingredients at hand. The original called for kemiri nuts and after a bit of googling, I found that macadamia would be a suitable substitute. However, as I prepared this last night, the recipe called for 6 such nuts (for 500 g of prawns!) - now either there was some mistake in the ingredients list or those kemiri nuts must be pretty damn large! More like figs! So I ground what I thought might be the right amount of nuts for a saucy curry and subsequently had to up all the other ingredients as well, plus add lime juice and soy sauce... so this recipe is probably anything but authentically Malaysian, but it tasted so good that I really didn't care - and I promise you, you won't mind, either!
More Asian recipes on thepassionatecook:
Tom Yum style soup with salmon & asparagus (February 2008)
Shrimp & coriander spring rolls (April 2006)
Philadelphia and Ocean Park maki (January 2006)
Crispy chicken balls with home-made sweet & sour sauce (February 2008)
Mini crab cakes with sweet chilli sauce (August 2005)
Spoons of marinated soba noodles with sesame & pickled ginger (December 2005)
"Vietnamese" chicken dumplings with chilli dip (April 2006)
Malaysian prawn & macadamia nut curry
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp red chilli* (finely chopped)
100 g macadamia nuts
2 curry leaves
½ tsp ground coriander
1 heaped tbsp tamarind sauce
¼ tsp shrimp paste
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
4 tbsp soy sauce
40 ml water
juice of ½ a lime
500 g raw tiger prawns (peeled and devained)
Pre-heat oven to 220C.
Peel the garlic and onion and slice roughly. Place in a food processor and add salt, chilli, macadamia nuts and curry leaves and process until the macadamia nuts are finely ground. Add the coriander, tamarind, shrimp paste, sugar, soy sauce, water and lime juice. Process into a smooth paste.
Combine the curry paste with the prawns and place in an oven-proof dish. Cover with alu foil (shiny side up) and place in the oven. After 10 minutes, remove the foil. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes, stirring through a few times so all the prawns cook evenly.
Place under a hot grill for a couple of minutes to brown the top.
Serve with steamed rice and sliced spring onions.
* This will produce a very mildly spicy curry - if you like it hotter, just add to your liking!