Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nyonya Fish Sambal/Sauce

Nyonya dishes are an amalgamation of spices and Asian herbs for capturing the true essence of the spicy-aromatic flavours and tastes. While it is difficult to characterise Nyonya cooking for it is at once like Malay, Chinese and retaining some Indian elements, true enough almost all Southeast Asian cooking is as subtly perfumed and spicy. More to that, for me, of course it is the Asian herbs for Nyonya dishes. However, not all the herbs are easily available when you want to buy. That's why I try to grow them in my little garden. Whichever is nicely growing is then used for the dishes I make. Better still, I create my own version(s).

This fish sambal I would say is a basic type. Fried fish in a lemongrass-chilli sambal and perfumed with kaffir lime leaves

4 pieces of Indian mackerel (gut, clean and cut into two; mix with 1 tsp turmeric powder and salt)
1 tbsp dried chilli paste
1 tbsp shallot paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 big onion ( sliced into thick rings)
(Note: you can also blend dried chillies, shallots, ginger and garlic for the sambal paste)
1 lemongrass/serai (chopped)
4-5 kaffir lime leaves (tear into pieces)
1tbsp tamarind/assam juice
1 tsp shrimp/belacan powder
1 tsp brown sugar
Oil as needed
Salt for taste

Deep fry fish, remove and keep aside.
Leave about 3 tbsp of oil in the same wok. 
Fry ginger paste, garlic shallot paste, shrimp powder, lemongrass and chilli paste till aromatic and oil splits. 
Pour tamarind juice, season with salt and sugar.
(for more gravy, add water)
Stir and add fried fish, onion rings and lime leaves. 
Stir again to coat fish in the sambal.
Dish out.  
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