Can you remember the first serious dishes you cooked in your new kitchen? I can... it was some 7-8 years ago when I excitedly cooked my first house warming dishes in my then shiny new kitchen. Among the dishes were 2 Nyonya dishes which I had learnt earlier from Shermay's Nyonya Cooking Class - Tempeh Goreng and Sambal Egg. The Tempeh Goreng, in particular was exotic and had a spritely appetising flavour which never failed to wow and I had repeated that for 3 separate house warming sessions... I didn't repeat this sambal egg dish as often because the vanity in me had felt that it was too easy and was not impressive enough.... Sigh.. I was much younger then and was more full of hot air! As age catches up,the character mellows and starts to appreciate the value of simplicity and functionality.
I have quite a few cookbooks on Nyonya Cuisine but the one that I refer to when I need reliability and authenticity is usually Shermay Lee's double volume 'The New Mrs Lee's Cook Book : Nyonya Cuisine'. I have bookmarked the Traditional Nasi Lemak(Coconut Rice) recipe in the book for quite some time and have finally decided I would try this to go with the Egg Sambal which is also featured in the book.
Forgoing the convenience of the modern rice cooker, the Nasi Lemak is cooked by gently steaming rice in 2 stages.For those who have tasted steamed rice, you will be able to appreciate the soft fluffy texture of the rice grain. The rice grains also tend to stay separated and not stick together in clumps as is sometimes seen in rice cooked in boiling water. Steaming the rice takes a longer time and requires one to 'watch and control the fire' more carefully. In addition, fluffing the rice with a pair of chopsticks also needs to be done to ensure that the rice is cooked evenly.
In Shermay's cookbook, apart from the tedious method, she had also published a simplified method. This calls for cooking the rice briskly in boiling water for 5 minutes before draining it out and steaming it for another 5-10mins.
I truly enjoy the rice with the Sambal Egg - which is a little sweeter and a little more tangy than the versions cooked with sambal belachan chilli paste. Hence for those who are less accustomed to flavours with more heat, this would be a delicious alternative. It has just occurred to me that this could be an interesting recipe for those who are looking to cook something a little more exotic for Easter :)
Recipe : (Adapted from Shermay Lee's 'The New Mrs Lee Cookbook' )
Nasi Lemak (Simplified method)
Pandan Leaf 2 pieces
Water 2.3 liter
Jasimine Rice 600g
Coconut milk 220g
Salt 1 tsp
Quails Eggs 30 (or 10 small hens eggs) (Hardboiled and peeled)
Coconut Milk 80g
Oil 4 tbsp
Tomato Ketchup 5 tbsp
Lime Juice 1 tsp
Sugar to taste
Salt 1 tsp
Rempah for Egg Sambal
Ginger 1 thumb size piece
Shallots 12 bulbs
Garlic 2 cloves
Chilli powder 1 tsp (I added more)
1. Wash rice. Boil water in a heavy saucepan and add washed rice and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Drain the water from the rice and quickly add coconut milk and salt. Stir well to combine. Cover to infuse for 10mins.
3, Transfer rice to a steamer. ( I place the rice on a shallow bowl and place this in a steamer) Add pandan leave and steam for 10mins.
1. Pound / grind the rempah ingredients to form a paste.
2. Heat up a wok until smoking hot. Add oil and (1). Fry for about 1minute. Add tomato ketchup and fry for another 1 minute.
3. Add eggs and fry for 1 minute. Add coconut milk stir well and simmer over medium low heat for a few minutes. Add lime juice and salt & sugar seasoning. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes until gravy turns thicker.