After my chat with Alvin Quah I was hell bent on making a traditional Nyonya curry for you today. Alas, I still need to get my hands on some Pandan leaf and few other goodies in order to make my curry of choice. If anyone knows where I can lay my hands on some fresh turmeric – pray tell!! I am ready to offer up a kidney or perhaps, my last born child Max – he is very handy in the kitchen as a food taster, pot stirrer and he takes out the rubbish like a pro!
The sound and flavours of Nyonyan cuisine really appeals to me. Thanks to the Emperor of China way back in the Ming dynasty for sending off his daughter Princess Hang Li Po to be trothed to a the Sultan of Malacca. Although, this must have been enormously hectic for the young lass and her 500 strong entourage (how bad could that have been?), the union gave birth to the Peranakan culture and a wonderful fusion of and a Chinese/ Malaysian cuisine know known as Nyonyan cuisine.
As you a reading a food blog it stands to reason that you love cooking and like me, probably squirrel away loads of exotic foods in both your freezer and larder, also like me! So every so often I try as hard as possible to make use of said ingredients and place a moratorium on shopping. I make a point of using up as much as possible whilst only shopping for such daily bits as bread, milk and veggies.
My fridge lands up looking like the place that all old jars go to die – Jarvana. Curry pastes, pickled walnuts, olives of every persuasion, pickles of every persuasion and and and … take up two whole shelves in my fridge. So enough is enough for this bit of fluff and I am emptying both the fridge and freezer so don’t be surprised if some unusual combinations appear on my dinner table for a few weeks. I quite enjoy doing this – it’s an Invention Test most evenings, only my lot won’t eliminate me!
To this end, I dug around and found some bottled Kaffir Lime leaves, domes of palm sugar etc. and was seriously thinking of a pilgrimage to my Chinese deli in Durban North to try and source the rest of the needful to make a Nyonyan curry …. But, good sense took hold and I decided to remain steadfast to my larder/freezer emptying mission.
T& C’S I will admit though, that I am going on a recce this Saturday morning to investigate a new Chinese Market
that has opened in Springfield Park ….. I shall report back!
Panang Fish & Prawn Curry
A quick and easy mid-week meal.
500g Firm white fish such as Kingklip or Hake – cut into bite sized chunks –
I used some Hake and some Kingklip – as I had a little of each in my freezer.
You could make this from just fish or just prawns too.
6 – 8 prawns washed, and deveined (I prefer to leave the shell on)
300g Broccoli – washed and cut into florets
300g Rosa or cherry tomatoes cut in half
6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 large chillies finely chopped –
1 small knob of ginger cut into batons optional – I just love ginger!
6 kaffir lime leaves – my lemongrass plant is Kaput and I
had no car yesterday either so I had to substitute
1 400ml can of Coconut Milk & 1 can of water
Fish Sauce – approx 3Tbs – but you must always add fish sauce by taste –
as each bottle differs in saltiness. Add 1Tbs, stir then taste then add some more.
If you don’t like fish sauce – use salt instead.
1/2 a round of palm sugar or 2Tbs of brown sugar
2 limes each cut into 8
1/2cup Fresh basil
1 sachet of Panang curry paste – or 3Tbs of either Thai red or green curry paste.
4 cups of cooked basmati rice.
This is another of those dishes that’s best cooked at a very high temperature in your wok
so it’s best prepare all of the ingredients in advance as you are going to have to work fast.
Heat your wok to smoking point and add enough oil, either sunflower or peanut oil to cover the base of the wok.
Add the chopped garlic, chillies and ginger and fry for 30 seconds
Add the onion and fry until they have softened and are starting to caramelise
Add one sachet or 2 – 3Tbs of Panang curry paste to the centre of the wok and fry
for 2 minutes with the onions
Add the broccoli and fry for 4 minutes
Add the can of coconut milk and one can of water
Add the ripped basil leaves, palm sugar/ brown sugar and fish sauce
and bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes.
Taste the liquid and adjust the seasoning .
This is the palm sugar – which is sold in rounds.
Add the tomatoes.
Add the basil leaves – which you just rip up – don’t cut them with a knife or they
Add your fish, stir it through and reduce the heat to a medium simmer for 5 minutes.
Fish is delicate flesh – so don’t overcook it.
Add the prawns on the top – don’t stir vigorously or they will break up.
If you don’t like prawns in the shell – then remove them but don’t overcook them
or they will get as tough as little bullets
Taste – and adjust your seasoning. Add more fish sauce if needed.
Switch the heat off – but leave the wok on the plate and cover.
This will ensure that all of your seafood is tender.
Thai curries are quite soupy in consistency and are eaten with a spoon out of a bowl.
Serve with basmati rice, fresh basil leaves and slices of lime.
The lime is squeezed over the curry just before you eat it.
Poor Claire got her knickers into a monumental knot last night on Masterchef didn’t she!