Am not a huge fan of sweet stuff for brekkie. The Nyonya in me loves Nasik Lemak, Laksa, Roti Canai and stuff like that for brekkie. But but but….I know…..those are not very healthy stuff to be eaten every day. So… in an effort to eat healthier stuff, I made this scrambled tofu for brekkie today, inspired by this link my sister sent me the other day. Easy peasy and pretty nice way to start the day with something mildly spicy and flavourful.
2 pieces firm tofu
1/4 yellow onion
2 pips garlic
1/2 red chilli (or more if you like it spicier)
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
5 cherry tomatoes (quartered)
Salt and pepper to taste
Squish the tofu into a mush i.e. break the tofu into tiny bits.
Heat up oil and saute chopped up garlic, onions and chilli.
Once fragrant, add in tumeric powder.
Add tofu and cherry tomatoes. Stir fry till tomatoes are soft.
Yummy enough for an encore. Would taste yummy with rice or bread or Puri. I recommend a side salad, as well as the fresh greens, will complement the savoury tofu nicely.
Being the true Melaka Nyonya, our Nasi Lemak would not be complete without “kangkung” (water convolvulus). Thankfully, my IT dude friend and his missus managed to hunt down some. Made 2 different sambals to accommodate the non-petai eating diners. Decided to make a milder, sweeter Sambal Nenas for my non-petai eating friends and also for the friend whose sambal tolerance level is at the primary school.
Decided to make “Kerabu Kacang Botol” as well. Erm…. More like an experiment. Thankfully, my lab rats reviewed and the experiment was considered a success.
For a Nasi Lemak, the sambal can make or break it. Besides the fragrant coconut rice, the sambal is the highlight for most people, me included. One of my friends posted about my Sambal Petai and Nasi Lemak on her Facebook and I have had requests for my recipe. As a true blue Nyonya who cooks using the “agak-agak method”, I was like “Yikes! I really dunno how many grams of this or that.” So, I went off to the nearest supermart and got MORE petai and spent an afternoon “quantifying” my Sambal Petai.
So…. here’s my recipe.
11 fresh red chillies
35 shallots (“Bawang Merah”)
20 candlenuts (“Buah Keras”)
3 cups petai
2 large yellow onions
400 ml tamarind juice (“Assam Jawa”)*
1 ½ tbsp salt
6 tbsp sugar
*made from 3 tbsp tamarind paste + 400ml water
Blend ingredients A into a paste.
Half and slice yellow onions into strips.
Heat up oil and once the oil is hot, sauté the blended paste. Keep stirring consistently to avoid burning the paste.
Once paste turns a darker red, add in petai and onions.
Add the tamarind juice.
Add salt and sugar to taste.
Use the food processor with a chopper function.
Soak the candlenuts to soften them before blending them.
If the paste looks watery, drain the excess water with a sieve.
Use more oil when cooking the paste. Spoon out excess oil once the sambal is ready by allowing it to sit for about 10 – 15 minutes.
Add birds eye chillies (“cili padi”) if prefer a spicier version.
For those who know me well enough, you will probably know by now that I love all things spicy and count Indian food as one of my favs. There is nothing I like better than a lovely vegetarian “thali”. Best enjoyed with all five of my digits, washed down with a nice frothy Teh Tarik Susu Lembu.
For those who are not in the know, the word “thali” actually means plate. (Hindi/Nepali: थाली, Tamil: தட்டு) It is essentially a round platter that is filled with several smaller little bowls (called “katori”) with food that is salty, sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. These little bowls are usually arranged around the bigger platter with some rice or chapati in the middle. Whether rice or chapati or even “puri” is served would depend on the region or restaurant that is serving the “thali”. Some restaurants I discovered would serve their “thali” on a banana leaf. Totally love “thali” on banana leaf as the aroma of the banana leaf enhances the whole thali experience.
Typical dishes of a thali are rice, roti, curries, vegetables, yoghurt (“tairu”), pappadums, pickles, “rasam” (Indian soup) and some places also serve salty fried chillies. (My fav!)
Recently, out of the blue, Son No. 2 decided that he wanted a thali. This was quite an unusual request as he is very loyal to his Roti Telur (Flatbread with egg). His “thali’ came with curried long beans, stir fried beansprouts, Sambal Taufu, Dhal curry (“sambar”), cucumber “salad”, fried bitter gourd and rasam. Oh yes, pappadums too.
Am usually not a fan of bitter gourd but the crunchy fried bitter gourd at Kari Kepala Ikan Raub* in Bentong, Pahang is probably one of the best I have tasted. I am a huge fan of their Sambal Taufu as it has just the right amount of onions and chillies. Actually, most of the dishes I have tried at this place is seriously yums.
So, why to I love “thali”?
Is it the Dhal curry that I instinctively drown my rice with?
Or is it because of the cucumber and onion raita that is the perfect match for firey sambal?
Or is it because of that mushy spinach that I love with a maddening passion?
Or the salty fried chillies that are so addictive?
The answer is “All of the above”. It is the various elements that make the “thali” oh-so-delish. All the different tastes, textures and flavours.
And one of the best part about “thali” is the huge portion that we just have to share it with our dining companions. And to share a good “thali” with great company is totally priceless!
I was an on and off vegetarian for some years before I decided to become a full-time vegetarian. My journey as a vegetarian has been a rather easy transition with so many delish eats available at all hours of the day in Malaysia.
As a vegetarian, I get many amusing and sometimes rather annoying remarks thrown my way. One of the remarks is that am not a full-time or “real” vegetarian since I eat garlic and onions. I once got kinda miffed at someone (a HUGE meat eater, no less!) who told me that am not a REAL vegetarian as I was happily chomping on garlic and onions. I tried to tell this person that I have not touched meat for some number of years but this person still insisted that am not a true vegetarian. You see, in Malaysia, Chinese who are vegetarians are mostly Mahayana Buddhists and they do not consume garlic and onions. Due to this, it is a common perception that all Chinese who are vegetarians cannot eat garlic and onions or to qualify as a vegetarian, one must refrain from consuming garlic and onions.
Hence, why I am inspired write this post to shed some light on the different types of vegetarianism. Basically, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat. Meat covers the usual beef, chicken, pork, lamb, seafood or anything with a life that moves, eats or makes noises. However, there are different classifications due to the different food combinations that the individual decides to consume. So, here are the different types of vegetarianism.
So, which vegetarian are you? Not that it really matters as at the end of the day, what matters more is that you made a conscious choice of a non-harming lifestyle. Whether you are a REAL vegetarian or not, at least you know that you are not harming any living creature to feed your gastronomic need.
So, what’s a Sambal Queen blog without a post on sambal, right? Here’s my “Sambal Belacan for Dummies”.
What is Sambal Belacan?
Besides being my fav thing that I cannot live without, it is essentially a chilli paste made from fresh red chillies and roasted shrimp paste. There are several different versions of this all-time favourite. Cooking, like art, is pretty much subjective and largely depends on the cook’s interpretation of the dish.
The Sambal Belacan I learnt is a family recipe I learnt from the best Sambal Belacan maker in the whole wide world. (Ok, am allowed to be biased a bit, no?) This is my late grandmother’s recipe that has never failed me. It has just 3 ingredients – Fresh red chilies, roasted belacan (shrimp paste) and freshly squeezed lime juice. Oh yes, my grandma’s recipe also has a heart full of love.
When I became a vegetarian, one of the things I missed is good ol’ fashioned Sambal Belacan. After much experimentation with several vegetarian belacan powders, I finally found a real decent one that my mother-in-law found in Ipoh.
How to make Sambal Belacan?
If you ask any Nyonya for their recipes, they will tell you that they agak–agak. This means that you will probably NOT get anywhere with Metric System in a Nyonya’s kitchen. This agak–agak method of cooking comes from many years in the kitchen watching the veteran cooks at work and experimenting in our own kitchens. I am blessed to have been able to watch 3 great cooks at work – my late grandmother, my mum and my mother-in-law.
So, here’s my Sambal Belacan recipe.
Fresh red chilies
Vegetarian belacan powder
Fresh lime juice
Salt to taste (Optional)
Wash the chillies clean and dry them.
Fry the belacan powder over VERY low fire until fragrant. (Enjoy the lovely smells! :D) MUST keep stirring. Whatever you do, do not leave this unattended.
Allow the fried belacan to cool.
Put all the red chillies and belacan powder into a chopper/food processor or you can do the good ol’ fashioned way with a “lesung” (pestle and mortar).
Pound until fine.
Squeeze some lime juice over the sambal paste before serving.
Best lime to use is “limau nipis”(Calamansi) or “limau kasturi” (lime). In a pinch, lemon works as well.
If it is too spicy, try adding a pinch of sugar to douse the heat a little. BUT if you are really a kindergarten chilli eater, best to remove the seeds before making your sambals.
When pounding the chillies using the “lesung”, the trick is to put one chilli at a time and some belacan to prevent the chilli from splattering on you. If the paste gets a little watery, add more belacan. Keep adding chillies and belacan alternatingly.
If you must use a food processor, please do not use those blenders that need water to be added to work. This is not recommended as you don’t want a runny sambal belacan.
I get asked a lot about what I eat. Many cannot imagine life without meat or at least, seafood. Many think that vegetarians eat only salad. Sorry to break it to you guys… we eat more than rabbit food. There is life beyond carrot sticks and celery.
So, am gonna share a fav that is easy and delish. It’s so simple that even my kids can make this themselves. I give you my version of Loaded Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
How to make it?
Chuck some sliced tomatoes and onions on your bread and then heap on tonnes of cheese. Pop it into the oven and enjoy the aroma.
Sprinkle some chilli flakes before serving.
Easy peasy. Selamat menjamu selera!
P/S: You can omit the chilli flakes and use black pepper if you are not big on spiciness.