As a self-proclaimed Malaysian home cook, it's a shame that it took me so long to prepare nasi lemak, the de facto national dish of
As sambal is of the essence when making nasi lemak, I was extremely zealous when preparing it. I shun away from electrical appliances. Nasi lemak deserves better, it deserves to be prepared the traditional way, that is, with mortar and pestle.
I gathered all the ingredients for my rempah (spice paste), patiently and gracefully pounded away just like any traditional Malaysian home cooks do. This very exercise brought back a flood of memories. As a child, I loved observing my grandmother, my mother, and my aunt when they prepared their rempah with batu giling (a flat surfaced granite grinding stone); I would always volunteer to help them with the chore as it was pure fun playing real life masak-masak. As I reminisced back those childhood days in my family's kitchen, I came to realize that it was probably the beginning of my life-long passion for cooking.
So, here I present you nasi lemak, a truly Rasa
Coconut Milk Steamed Rice
- 2 cups of rice
- 3 screwpine leaves (tie them into a knot as shown above)
- Salt to taste
- 1 small can of coconut milk (5.6 oz size)
- Some water
- 1 cup of water
- Tamarind pulp (size of a small ping pong ball)
Sambal Ikan Bilis (Dried anchovies sambal)
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 cup ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 shallots
- 10 dried chillies
- 1 teaspoon of belacan (prawn paste)
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 hard boiled eggs (cut into half)
- 3 small fish (sardines or smelt fish)
- 1 small cucumber (cut into slices and then quartered)
- Just like making steamed rice, rinse your rice and drain. Add the coconut milk, a pinch of salt, and some water. Add the pandan leaves into the rice and cook your rice.
- Rinse the dried anchovies and drain the water. Fry the anchovies until they turn light brown and put aside.
- Pound the prawn paste together with shallots, garlic, and deseeded dried chilies with a mortar and pestle. You can also grind them with a food processor.
- Slice the red onion into rings.
- Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind constantly to extract the flavor into the water. Drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
- Heat some oil in a pan and fry the spice paste until fragrant.
- Add in the onion rings.
- Add in the ikan bilis and stir well.
- Add tamarind juice, salt, and sugar.
- Simmer on low heat until the gravy thickens. Set aside.
- Clean the small fish, cut them into half and season with salt. Deep fry.
- Cut the cucumber into slices and then quartered into four small pieces.
- Dish up the steamed coconut milk rice and pour some sambal ikan bilis on top of the rice.
- Serve with fried fish, cucumber slices, and hard-boiled eggs.