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Many food guides for tourists mention nasi lemak, as it is one of the representative dishes for Singaporean cuisine. Some may mention mee siam and mee soto as breakfast favourites. But locals know there’s nothing quite like a plate of nasi padang, where the intense flavours are.
However, eating nasi padang outside is sometimes really expensive; you often need to give a red $10 note for each person’s share. Multiply that by 10 times for a family gathering, and you’ll want to consider making your own Malay food at home instead.
A good Malay food spread looks a lot like a nasi padang stall, with many dishes to be shared filling a large table. While it’s normal to see upwards of 20 dishes at a nasi padang stall, you may want to scale down for smaller private gatherings.
Here are 6 common Malay food recipes to get started with. To help all the cheapos out there stretch every cent, the recipes chosen use every spice listed at least twice!
Option A: Ingredients for Sambal Goreng
Option B: Ingredients for Sambal Sotong
Step 1: Make the rempah. Using a blender (or a pestle and mortar), blend all the rempah ingredients into a smooth paste. Heat some oil in pan, then fry the paste until fragrant, and the oil separates. This should take about 5 minutes.
Step 2: Make the tamarind juice. Mix tamarind paste and water together in a bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes, then strain and discard the seeds.
Option A) Sambal Goreng
Option B) Sambal Squid
Step 1: Blend the spice paste with a blender.
Step 2: Marinate the fish. Clean the fish and pat dry. Coat the fish with the spice paste and wrap it with banana leaves or baking sheets. Use toothpicks to tightly package the fish. Store in fridge overnight.
Step 3: Make the tamarind juice. Mix tamarind paste and water together in a bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes, then strain and discard the seeds.
Step 4: Make sambal belacan. Pound or blend the chilies and belacan into a paste. Add tamarind juice and sliced shallots to the sambal, then stir well.
Step 5: Cook the fish. Grill the fish parcel for 5 minutes on each side until the banana leaves are burnt, or the paper browns.
Step 6: Serve hot with sambal belacan.
Pound or blend red chilies into a paste. Heat the wok and stir-fry the garlic in oil. Add the blended chili paste, toasted belacan, and salt. Add the okra, stir-fry a few turns, then add in the shrimp. Continue stir-frying, till the shrimp is cooked, and the okra becomes sticky and cooked. Toss in the chili slices and serve hot.
Step 1: Using a blender, blend the garlic, ginger, onion, and turmeric powder.
Step 2: In a non-stick pan, heat the sunflower oil on medium. Fry cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and cardamoms for 3 minutes on medium heat.
Step 3: Reduce heat to low and add the blended paste from step 1. Add galangal and lemongrass. Stir-fry for 10 minutes on medium. Add more oil as needed and ensure the ingredients don’t burn.
Step 4: Add chicken to the pot. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
Step 5: Add 1 L of water. Stir well, add salt and white pepper to taste, and cover the lid. Let simmer for 40 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally.
Step 6: Shred the chicken meat when cooked. Return the chicken and the bones into the pot.
Step 7: To serve, blanch the bean sprouts in a separate pot for 30 seconds or less. Place in bowls and ladle the chicken soto soup into the bowls. Top with the shredded chicken and half a boiled egg, then garnish with spring onions and fried shallots. Eat with rice or lontong, or blanch some fresh yellow noodles to make mee soto!
Step 1: Blend or pound the spice paste ingredients into a fine and even paste.
Step 2: Heat the oil in a stew pot, then stir-fry the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom, until aromatic.
Step 3: Add the beef and the pounded lemongrass. Stir for a minute, then add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water. Simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked.
Step 4: Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted coconut), sugar or palm sugar, stirring till well-blended.
Step 5: Reduce heat to low, cover the lid, and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, until the meat is tender and the gravy has dried up. Add salt and sugar to taste. Serve with steamed rice, or store in the fridge overnight for stronger flavours.
Note: If kerisik is not readily available, just add grated coconut to a dry wok and stir continuously until they turn golden brown.
All that is left is to cook a pot of rice and invite your family and friends! For more malay food recipes, visit the tips section of our website.
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