Thursday, April 20, 2017

Malaysian Sambal Dried Shrimp and Yard Long Beans

     Spicy Healthy Malaysian Food!
     Modern Malaysian cuisine has an interesting mixture of culinary influences from many foreign cultures that is infused with the traditional local cuisine.  Just like in Singapore, Malaysia and many Southeast Asian nations have adapted cultural fusion cuisine styles in modern times.  The traditional local cuisine may not be in the limelight at trendy restaurants, but good old fashioned traditional Malaysian food can still be found at local restaurants and in the home kitchen. 
     Traditional Malaysian food is quite tropical.  Fruits grow year round and seafood is plentiful.  Tropical pacific root vegetables, native exotic vegetables and herbs are all part of traditional Malaysian cuisine.   Rice has always been a main staple in Malaysia and it accompanies most traditional dishes.  Tropical banana leaf style cooking and serving food on banana leaves are signatures of old Malaysian cuisine.
     Ever since the Columbian Exchange took place, chile peppers have entered the tropical cuisine of every region in the sun belt.  There are over 100 varieties of Sambal (chile paste) in the Southeast Asia region.  Sambal is an important part of Malaysian cuisine.  There are specific names for each Malaysian Sambal style.  Some are made with kaffir lime, dried shrimp and other local flavors.  There are also specific names for raw or cooked Sambal.  
     Belacan can refer to Shrimp Paste or Dried Shrimp in Malaysia.  I chose to use tiny Dried Shrimp for today's Malaysian Yard Long Bean recipe, because I had them on hand.  The dried shrimp combine with a Mild Sambal to create a very nice flavor that goes well with Yard Long Beans.  
     Yard Long Beans are popular in tropical Asia and India.  Yard Long Beans are in the Cowpea family and they grow from climbing vines that are similar to air-plants.  Yard Long Beans are great for food shortages, because they grow very quickly and they are loaded with nutrients.  

     Malaysian Sambal Dried Shrimp and Yard Long Beans:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Dried Shrimp are available in a variety of sizes.  For this recipe, try to select tiny dried shrimp that are about as big as a fingernail.  These shrimp are so small that the the shells are edible and they do not have to be peeled.
     Be careful not to choose a Sambal that is salty.  Some Sambal brands more salt than others!  Korean style Coarse Ground Red Serrano Chile Pepper (Sambal) is mildly spicy and it usually is not salty.  
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of Sticky Rice or Long Grain White Rice till it is tender.  (About 1/3 cup of dried rice.)
     Keep the rice warm till later in the recipe.        
     Step 2:  Place 2 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of tiny dried shrimp.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground galangal (Thai Blue Ginger).
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper. 
     Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.  
     Simmer the dried shrimp till they are tender and the broth reduces to about 2 cups.  (About 10 minutes.)
     *Check the amount of broth in the pot.  About 2 cups of broth will be needed for the next step.  If necessary, add water if the amount of broth is too low. 
     Step 3:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Add 2 cups of Yard Long Beans that are cut into 2" to 3" long pieces.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Boil till the long beans start to become tender.  (About 3 to 4  minutes.)  
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Remove the lid.
     Set the pot dried shrimp and long beans aside.  
     *Check the amount of broth in the pot.  About 1 1/2 cups of broth will be needed for the next step.  If necessary, add water if the amount of broth is too low.
     Step 5:  Heat a wide sauté pan (or mini wok) over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped garlic.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 of a small red Thai Chile Pepper that is thin sliced.  (Optional for extra spicy heat level!)
     Sauté till the onions start to become tender.
     Step 6:  Add the reserved long beans, dried shrimp and 1 1/2 cups of the broth from the other pot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Coarse Ground Red Serrano Chile Pepper Paste (or Malaysian Mild Sambal).   
     Add 1 tablespoon of Sriracha Sauce.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.  (crushed dried red chile caribe)
     Add 2 teaspoons of thin soy sauce.
     Toss the ingredients together
     Rapidly simmer and reduce till only about 3/4 cup of the spicy thin broth sauce remains.
     Step 7: Remove the pan from the heat.
     Use a custard cup mold to place 1 portion of rice on the back half of a shallow plate.
     Place the Malaysian Sambal Dried Shrimp and Yard Long Beans around the rice on the front half of the plate.
     Pour any remaining sauce over the Yard Long Beans.
     Garnish the plate with lime slices and a cilantro sprig. 

     Sometimes a great flavor combination comes from only a few choice ingredients and such is the case with Malaysian Sambal Dried Shrimp and Yard Long Beans!  

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