CRADLE OF FLAVOR

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I borrowed the ‘cradle of flavor’ by James Oseland a few weeks ago from the library, immediately after reading the first few pages I knew I had to have it as a reference.  It’s a 350 page encyclopedia of spice island home cooking and I want to cook everything in it. Today was condiment day, Javanese and Nyonya Sambal on the tasting plate.  The room smelt terribly of blachan when frying off but the salty paste makes a huge difference to the spicy mixture.

Sambal Ulek

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the 1 teaspoon of dried shrimp paste till it goes brown and it crumbles and set aside till cool.  Blend or pound the shrimp paste, 5 shallots, 3 cloves of garlic, 6 chillies, 1 teaspoon palm sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt till chunky/smooth.  Fry over a medium/low heat in a tablespoon of oil and stir for around 10 minutes.  Transfer sambal to small bowl and cool before eating.  Serve with Asian greens, chicken curry, or my favourite breakfast of simply boiled rice and a fried egg.

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For the Sambal Belacan variation, you need to toast 2 1/4 teaspoons of belacan first in some foil over a flame add the sugar/chillies/garlic/shallots paste mix, fry and then before serving add a squeeze of lime.

Make sure you serve both at room temperature.

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