Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I can't say if marriage is what I expected it to be. I think for both of us, it took time getting used to living with someone. I'm sure part of it was because we got married at an older age - we were pretty much set in our ways by then. One minute I am this independent woman running my own business. The next minute I am sitting cross-legged in his living room in another continent, wondering where I can fit all my books. We have had plenty of adjustments to make along the way.
One of the things that fall on both ends of the get-along-meter is food. It is something that unites us and at the same time, causes some arguments. We grew up eating Malay food, so we love the savory taste of Malay rempah (spices) that flavors our food. We enjoy spending time in the kitchen trying to recreate the smell and taste that peppered our childhood and arguing whose mum made a better ____ (any Malay food). But he is also a red meat lover. Those last three words should be capitalized just to emphasis how much he loves red meat, but I am too polite to be shouting over the web. I really have no objection to my husband eating red meat but for health reasons I would like him to eat less of it. We "discuss" this a lot.
So I look for meat-less recipes which I think will satisfy his tastebuds. My mum's sambal goreng sayur recipe is one such recipe. The rough translation for the dish is "fried chili vegetables". She usually makes it with beef but I decided to make it with prawns. I was glad to hear that he liked it just as much. This recipe is a typical of Malay food. Onion, garlic, belacan, lemongrass, galangal and chilli blended into a spice paste and then fried until fragrant. My mum suggested one cup of dried chilli but it was too much heat, so I reduced it to half a cup.
Sambal Goreng Sayur
½ cup dried chili, de-seeded and blended into paste
1 onion, medium sized
5 garlic cloves
3 lemon grass stalks
1-inch square belacan (shrimp paste)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste to produce ½ cup of tamarind juice
2 tablespoons sugar
15 long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces at an angle
1 8-oz tempe
1 8-oz baked or fried tofu
(tofu & tempe cut into 1 by 2-inch blocks & lightly fried separately)
1 lb prawns, shelled and de-veined, lightly fried
oil for frying
Rempah (spice paste) - Peel and chop galangal, lemongrass, onion and garlic into 1-inch pieces. You don't have to exact because all will be blended. Use only the white and light green part of the lemongrass. Put the chilli paste, lemongrass, onion, garlic, belacan and galangal into a blender or food processor - grind until mixture becomes paste. Heat 1 table spoon of oil in a wok. Put in the rempah, sugar and tamarind juice - be careful of oil splatter - and fry until fragrant. Stir often so that the rempah doesn't burn. This may take 15-20 minutes.
Remove the rempah and clean the wok. Heat about 2 tablespoon of oil (medium heat). Fry the long beans for about 2 minutes. Then put in the tofu, tempe and prawns. Stir-fry for one minute. Add the rempah and mix well. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with rice.