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*May 2009* COTM Cradle of Flavor: Fish and Shellfish

foxy fairy May 1, 2009 06:02 PM

**May 2009 Cookbook of the Month is Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland.

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes here for fish and shellfish dishes from Chapter 10, page 232 - 265. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

  1. LulusMom May 2, 2009 08:42 AM

    Fragrant Fish Stew with Lime and Lemon Basil (p. 240).

    No red chiles (used serranos instead), no lemon or thai basil (used italian - he says this is ok), and no daun pandan leaves, and used tilapia fillets instead of whole fish (again, he says this is ok). You make a flavoring paste (shallots, garlic, chiles, ginger, galangal, tumeric) and saute in hot oil. Meanwhile fish is marinating in lime juice. Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and water and then the fish. Cook until finished and then add the basil. I served it over jasmin rice (just used my usual way of cooking the rice) as he recommends. We liked this very much, and my husband said the leftovers he had for lunch were even better. Doesn't look especially pretty, but was tasty. I do very much wish i could get my hands on the Holland peppers. I don't really know how the serranos compare to what level of heat he wants, and for me it could have been somewhat hotter, but still very good.

     
    9 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom
      oakjoan May 2, 2009 04:40 PM

      Wow, LLMom, don't they have red bell peppers at your supermarket(s)? Maybe it's just a California thing since they probably grow them in the state. I have even recently gotten a big bag of red and yellow bells at COSTCO....of course some will probably rot before I use them. Will that stop me from buying these big bags of stuff again? Of course not! D'uh!

      1. re: oakjoan
        LulusMom May 2, 2009 04:46 PM

        I'm talking about the red Holland peppers (and he insists that other red peppers can be subbed, but not green), not regular red peppers. And it is driving me nuts that I cannot get them. Even Whole Foods, even the local co-op, even the farmers' market ... no red hot peppers.

        That said, I'm jealous of your plethora of red and yellow peppers ...

      2. re: LulusMom
        The Dairy Queen May 2, 2009 06:00 PM

        Oh dear, I haven't begun my hunt for ingredients. I hope the Holland peppers aren't going to be that challenging to find... but, it sounds like you did just fine with the serranos!

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen
          oakjoan May 3, 2009 01:46 PM

          LLM: Did you mean to say that he says other red peppers CANNOT be subbed? I have some red peppers that were called "Holland" in my fridge now and they're not hot at all and are so similar to regular bell peppers that I couldn't tell the diff -- except they're a bit prettier.

          From some website I got when Googling:

          Description/Taste

          "Truly irresistible and bright glossy red, Holland bell peppers are most often served as a vegetable rather than a spice. Offering a delicious vegetable flavor, raw red bell peppers deliver a delightful crunchy texture and a pleasant mildly sweet tang. Holland bell peppers are prized for their nearly perfect uniform shape, thick walls and succulent sweetness."

          Maybe he's talking about another kind of red Holland peppers?

          1. re: oakjoan
            yamalam May 3, 2009 02:24 PM

            Yeah, very different from Holland Bells- here's his expanded description:
            "Holland chiles (also called Dutch or finger chiles) are the primary hot pepper used in Indonesian cooking. They are ruby red in color and glossy skinned, with narrow, fingerlike bodies that end in sharp points. They're about four inches long (sometimes longer, but rarely shorter) and a half inch in diameter at their thickest point. They have juicy, sweet-tasting flesh and tight, waxy skin that keeps them from spoiling quickly. Holland chiles vary from mildly hot to scorching, but they lose much of their pungency when cooked. They're available year-round in North America, generally imported from the Netherlands. If you can't find them, you may substitute any fresh red chiles such as Fresno, cherry bells, cayennes, Anaheims, huachinangos, jalapeños, or serranos"

            1. re: yamalam
              pitu May 4, 2009 08:02 PM

              oooo, thx for posting that
              I have a bag of hot red cherry bells in my freezer that I had forgotten about until I read that. I know they want fresh but . . . what do you folks think?

              1. re: yamalam
                jen kalb May 8, 2009 07:38 AM

                I found some smooth red chiles about 4-6 in long in my chinese supermarket yesterday - not sure how pungent they are, probably more than the curly kind - we will see how these go now that I have run out of red peppers to use. The Holland Chiles I bought before at Costco (they do not have them here now) were quite mild, as chiles go.

              2. re: oakjoan
                Rubee May 3, 2009 03:52 PM

                Here's a pic of the Holland red chiles (there's also a picture in the book on p 64):

                http://indotastekitchen.com/?p=54

                I'm heading out to a local Asian market - Lee Lee's - this afternoon. Hoping I can find these or cayenne, along with all the other ingredients I need.

                1. re: Rubee
                  greedygirl May 5, 2009 12:39 AM

                  They look exactly like the "standard" chillies you find everywhere in the UK. I had assumed they were cayennes, but maybe they're the Holland chillies. I know that a UK poster who's from Singapore told me that the chillies he finds here are the same ones as at home. He said they're much harder to find in the US though.

          2. s
            smtucker May 4, 2009 05:41 PM

            Spice-Braised Tuna
            page 242-244

            Dinner tonight was the Spice-Braised Tuna, steamed rice and Stir-Fry Greens with Sweet-Sour Cucumber and Carrot Pickle with Turmeric.

            I purchased my tuna at the local Korean/Japanese market and it was beautifully formed into a perfect rectangle. It was a sashimi grade piece of tuna, and for a few moments, I considered changing the menu to seared tuna. But, then I remembered the entire box of ingredients I have purchased and put those foolish thoughts aside.

            You start by preparing the tamarind. I am not not sure I did this correctly. At the very least, I need to practice getting all the bits out and still having some tamarind left. I supplemented the meagre amount with a bit of concentrate I had in the pantry.

            The flavoring paste again asked for the "creamy mashed potato" consistency, but with no indication that you could add water to get there. Are my shallots just much drier? I needed to add 3 tablespoons of water to get creamy. I used 1 1/2 Red Holland chiles, the last of my stash.

            For the final ingredients, I broke my two cinamon sticks in half. I crushed the nutmeg a little too much, but used them anyway. The tuna was cut into 2 inch chunks, which was very easy given the shape of the whole piece. Finally, there were no ripe Romas so I substituted grape tomatos split lengthwise.

            Followed the recipe as directed. Cook the paste, add the spices cook for 2 minutes, add the tuna and brown a bit. Add the tamarind, soy sauce and water and simmer for 4 minutes. At this point I added the tomatoes, but they didn't soften quickly enough, so I removed the tuna to prevent overcooking, while I let the tomatoes soften. I didn't need any extra salt.

            While the dish rested, I finished the stir fry greens and fluffed the rice.

            Okay, this dish is amazing. I can't even begin to describe the flavors that jumped around my mouth. Definately serve with simple rice. You need the neutral flavor to offset the richness and complexity of this dish. The sauce would be good on almost any protein I think. Certainly you could substitute a swordfish, and perhaps chicken thighs. I can't wait for tomorrow's lunch when I get to eat the leftovers.

            Pictures include the mise en place, and a dark shot of the final dish.

             
             
            10 Replies
            1. re: smtucker
              Rubee May 4, 2009 09:03 PM

              That looks so delicious! I was going to make it tonight, but when I was at the Asian store yesterday, they had just cut and packaged the King mackerel so I went with that. Can't wait to try the Spice-Braised Tuna - you've made it sound so good.

              1. re: smtucker
                s
                smtucker May 5, 2009 04:00 PM

                small update: This dish warms up extremely well. I first pulled out the tomatoes and tuna, and then strained the sauce to remove the spices. I poured the sauce poured over some leftover rice and zapped for one minute. Then I added the tuna [3 chunks] and the tomatoes and zapped for another 30 seconds. 45 seconds might have been better. Ah the flavor. This recipe goes into the "forever" file.

                1. re: smtucker
                  e
                  Eddie H. May 6, 2009 04:20 AM

                  I guess I'll have to give this recipe another try, as it sounds like you had much better luck than I. I found it to be overly sweet, but sounds like maybe I did something wrong. Did you find it to be on the sweet-side? Or were there other flavors to help balance out the sweetness?

                  http://culinarystudio.blogspot.com

                  1. re: Eddie H.
                    s
                    smtucker May 6, 2009 06:24 AM

                    There was a sweet component, but I didn't find it to the foremost component. The spices and peppers [I was very generous with peppers] were more present in my version. The only sweet ingredient was the Indonesian Soy Sauce. Which brand did you use? I have the Bango brand as a point of comparison. If this was too sweet for you, it would make sense to reduce the amount of the soy sauce to your taste.

                    1. re: smtucker
                      e
                      Eddie H. May 7, 2009 04:11 AM

                      I used ABC brand. I found the tamarind flavor to be fairly cloying (and I love tamarind), but it sounds like I may have made a mistake when making it. I'll have to try the recipe again, because it does sound great on paper.

                      http://culinarystudio.blogspot.com

                  2. re: smtucker
                    LulusMom May 6, 2009 12:16 PM

                    Quick question smtucker- Just how cooked does the tuna get? I'm reading that you're cooking it for 6 minutes total, seems like a long time for tuna? I am assuming it isnt' at all rare at this point, correct? Thinking about making this one, but that point might be a sticker.

                    1. re: LulusMom
                      s
                      smtucker May 6, 2009 02:09 PM

                      The tuna was not rare, but surprisingly, not overcooked either. It was rather like the texture/color of oil-poached tuna, if that makes sense. As you see, I pulled the tuna early because I really didn't want the tuna to overcook. I am trying to imagine my usual seared tuna with this dish, and somehow, can't really imagine it. With a knife and fork, I could pull the tuna apart on the grain. though there was some resistance. Hope this is helpful, at least a little.

                      1. re: smtucker
                        LulusMom May 6, 2009 05:14 PM

                        It is both helpful and mystyfing, and I mean that in the best possible way. It sounds so good, and yet I'm still confused about the texture. You've got me really interested in a recipe that I had previously ignored, so take this all as a compliment!

                    2. re: smtucker
                      JoanN May 10, 2009 05:24 PM

                      The fishmonger at my local farmers market had some sushi-grade tuna. After that glowing review, how could I not try the Spice-Braised Tuna? I managed to find some Fresno chiles and when I tasted a bit of one it seemed to have no heat at all. So I used five of them and added two Thai chiles. It was pretty spicy. Not too much for me, but I’d probably add only one Thai chile, or even leave it out entirely, if I were making this for company. And I found Roma tomatoes, too.

                      Even after reading your report, smtucker, I ended up smashing the nutmeg almost to smithereens, so I had bits of nutmeg in addition to the whole cloves to deal with while I was eating it. But I didn’t care. Man, was this good! Perfect description of all the different flavors jumping around in your mouth. Although the dish definitely has a sweetness factor, I thought it marvelously balanced with the spices and heat. Great dish. I’d make it again in a heartbeat. Can’t wait for the leftovers tomorrow. (And thanks for the reheating tips, too.)

                       
                      1. re: smtucker
                        jen kalb May 18, 2009 01:48 PM

                        cooked this dish last night as written and IMO it was a total, delicious success served with jasmine rice and a green salad.. Used 4 of the long red chiles of the recommended 2-5 from the chinese supermarket which gave excellent color and heat. Tuna was the big thick pieces that Costco sells, 1.3 lbs rather than 1 worked fine. and we will get a third meal out of it.

                        This recipe definitely goes into the permanent category

                         
                      2. Rubee May 5, 2009 01:34 AM

                        Pan-Seared Mackerel with Chiles and Garlic (chuan-chuan - Malaysia), p.252

                        I picked up some fresh bone-in king mackerel/kingfish steaks and they were perfect for this recipe. I read that some posters thought some recipes were a bit too subtle without the sambal or pickles, so had planned on making a couple condiments to have for the week. However, I ran out of time, so I used red Thai chiles instead of the Red Holland chiles to add plenty of spice.

                        This was a nice choice for a weekday dinner. The fish is browned in a pan for about 10 minutes and removed to saute the vegetables. I used thinly sliced yellow onion instead of red, sliced garlic, ginger, and chiles. A mixture of water, soy sauce, double-black soy, sugar, and ground pepper is added, and then finally a little rice vinegar. Simply spoon over the fish and serve.

                        The fish was moist and perfectly cooked, and I especially liked the flavor from the slivers of fresh ginger and the bit of heat from the chiles. I served with jasmine rice steamed with pandan leaves, and stir-fried Chinese leeks and bean sprouts.

                         
                         
                         
                         
                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Rubee
                          s
                          smtucker May 5, 2009 07:47 AM

                          Lovely pictures. I agree that you have to buy what looks fresh that day, and that mackerel looks wonderful. I have tried to memorize all the recipes I have marked so I can switch on the fly, but my brain may not be big enough to keep track of all my post-it notes.

                          1. re: Rubee
                            Gio May 7, 2009 06:04 AM

                            We made the Pan-Seared Mackerel last night but it was an after thought since I had planned to make the Eggplant Curry for dinner. While at the market we saw some beautiful whole common mackerel and couldn't resist so bought 2 small-ish ones. Lovely mix of flavors from all the different ingredients, especially from the ginger slivers as Rubee mentioned. I find it fascinating how all the components are balanced to produce a wonderful tasting dish.

                            We liked this recipe very much and I'm sure we'll be making it again. I did make the curry too and plain steamed jasmine rice. It all went together nicely.

                            1. re: Rubee
                              LulusMom May 7, 2009 09:40 AM

                              For those of you who have made the mackerel with chiles and garlic - can you recommend a fish that I might sub? I have never seen mackerel in the grocery store here, or even the local Whole Foods, but would love to make this. He says something about how well the sauce goes with the oiliness of the fish, so I'm not sure just any fish would do. Thanks in advance.

                              1. re: LulusMom
                                Gio May 7, 2009 11:59 AM

                                LLM: Right off the top I'd say that I'd sub trout for the mackerel if I had to. But here's a site with a list of oily fish:
                                :http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchi...
                                But..... I'd check the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch site for my area before I went to the market. There are types of fish on that list that we should not be buying much less eating. IM not so humble O.

                              2. re: Rubee
                                k
                                Karen_Schaffer May 20, 2009 10:20 PM

                                My turn to make the Pan-Seared Mackerel with Chiles and Garlic, and we loved it too. I served it with plain brown rice and amaranth stir-fried with garlic, and they also benefited from the yummy sauce. I did use a red onion, but given the color of the end sauce, I can't imagine it would make a difference. I couldn't find fresh red chiles either, so I bought some jalapeno-shaped yellow/orange ones (labeled serrano, but I don't think so). Just one added sufficient heat for our tastes.

                                I'm frankly not convinced that the double black soy makes that much of a difference. My standard soy is Pearl River Mushroom, which is pretty intense and complex on its own. But what the heck, it wasn't expensive to buy a bottle.

                                My fish was a little over 1 lb, and I made the whole amount of sauce. I can't imagine this recipe serving 4 people even with a slightly larger fish, unless it was just one dish in a larger meal.

                                I disliked the mess of pan-frying, though. I'd be tempted to broil the fish next time while making the pan sauce.

                                And then there's that bone thing, sigh. But I love mackerel, so I persevere. It's those little bitty bones where the fins attach that are the real annoyance.

                                Tomorrow we're having the Javanese Grilled Chicken. I simmered it tonight while making dinner and am letting it marinate overnight. Oh my, does it ever smell good! And the broth leftover from simmering the chicken -- yum!

                                1. re: Rubee
                                  LulusMom May 29, 2009 12:11 PM

                                  My turn on the Pan Seared Mackerel (except it was Mahi Mahi) with chiles and garlic.

                                  Loved this sauce. Loved it. I could have eaten it raw as a salad, it smelled so good. So, as usual, no mackeral at the store so I asked at the fish counter which fish they would sub, and got a very definite answer of mahi-mahi. Normally I've never been a big fan of this fish, but I'd never cooked it myself, so this was a revelation. Turns out I love mahi-mahi, as long as it isn't overcooked. Mine was so tender and juicy and flavorful. Really easy (although I did feel like I was chopping the chiles, garlic,ginger and onion forever), lots of flavor. I subbed two jalapenos for the hollands, but for me that was good - nice and spicy, something I've missed a bit with other recipes in this book. I served it with snap peas and crusty bread (he recommends the latter, and I can really see why). My only small issue with this (and it sounds like the mackeral would be just as bad as the mahi mahi if not worse) was that the sauce covers the fish, making it hard to see where the bone line is. But not a big deal. Like Karen Schaffer I think you need all the sauce for just two (and a half) pieces of fish.

                                   
                                2. greedygirl May 5, 2009 12:10 PM

                                  Padang Fish Curry (p 244)

                                  Mr GG cannot stand fish with bones, but as he is not here I grasped the bull by the horns, or the fish by the gills, or whatever, and used a whole tilapia, head and all, as suggested. I got it from the Chinese fishmonger, who seemed to know exactly what to do and chopped it up for me across the bone.

                                  You make a flavouring paste with shallots, garlic, fresh turmeric, ginger and candlenuts and fry it gently in oil with lime leaves, lemongrass and daun salam. I think I'm getting the hang of this now. Then add coconut milk, water, sugar and salt. Simmer until the flavours have melded, about ten minutes. Then add the fish and 5-15 green Thai chillies, stemmed. I used about a dozen. Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes until the fish is opaque. Allow the curry to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving - this last step I found very important as the flavours needed to develop.

                                  This is a delicious but somewhat mild and creamy dish. The cucumber and carrot pickle I served it with added some spice but next time I would probably split the green chillies to get a bit more heat out of them into the sauce. (I did eat them though.) I would also use fillets if serving to Mr GG as I don't think he would take kindly to the bones, never mind the fish head!

                                  21 Replies
                                  1. re: greedygirl
                                    NYchowcook May 8, 2009 05:37 AM

                                    Padang fish curry – Gulai Ikan Masin (p. 244)

                                    I made this with swordfish and added a couple red Holland chiles and green Thai chiles ‘cause I wanted heat. The red chiles are in the flavoring paste of the preceding recipe, so I figured: why not? and also I wanted to use those Holland peppers I managed to score!

                                    You cook the flavoring paste until the shallots and garlic do not smell raw and aroma of lemongrass and lime leaves takes over. Or in my case, until the paste starts to stick and you get worried and decide yes, in fact that’s enough. Add coconut milk, water, regular sugar and salt, and simmer for 10-15 minutes to get all the flavors to combine. You stir often, which was a great pleasure – I kept sticking my nose over the pan to inhale the wonderful aroma of lemongrass and kaffir lime.

                                    Then add fish and green Thai chiles, and cook until opaque. I spooned some of the sauce over the fish as it simmered.

                                    I found the swordfish to be a good choice: it didn’t fall apart when I turned it over, and it made what can sometimes be a dry piece of fish very moist – and flavorful!

                                    This was perfection! Unlike GG, mine was spicy hot -- which I love -- and the flavors were robust, well-balanced and heavenly aromatic. I wonder GG-- did you add the Thai peppers? Or perhaps it was the peppers I put into the flavoring paste that gave it the punch.

                                    The photo shows my lack of discipline as I picked at the fish while it rested (!).
                                    Served with brown Thai jasmine rice, and simply boiled green beans, which went well – think vegetables in a Thai curry.
                                    I will make this again and again for any white fish. The timing is also convenient because you can boil green beans or perhaps saute some water spinach while fish is resting.

                                    1. re: NYchowcook
                                      NYchowcook May 8, 2009 05:58 AM

                                      I tried compressing the photo to get it unde 2.05 mgb

                                      1. re: NYchowcook
                                        greedygirl May 8, 2009 08:03 AM

                                        I did add the peppers at the end as directed. I suspect it was the peppers you put in the flavouring paste that made it hot!

                                        1. re: NYchowcook
                                          Gio May 28, 2009 05:33 AM

                                          Padang Fish Curry, (Gulai Ikan Masin), Pg. 244

                                          My turn....Made this last night and I have to say it finished somewhere between GG's and NYchowcook's experiences. It was really easy to put together and the prodedure is becoming second nature. I used Tilapia fillets and wish I had thought to use chiles in the paste but only used the green Thai chiles for the sauce. I felt the fish got lost in the sauce. The sauce while tasty, though, didn't have a huge punch. We liked it well enough and it's possible I'll make it again when the spirit moves or when I find a whole fish.

                                          While the curry rested I dry-fried, in a little peanut oil, eggplant sliced in 2" chunks after tossing in a combination of ground cumin, coriander, cayenne, tumeric and S & P. Steamed Jasmine rice completed the meal.

                                          1. re: Gio
                                            greedygirl May 28, 2009 04:33 PM

                                            As a comparison, I made a fish curry from the Indonesian section of Charmaine Solomon's Asian book the other week, and liked it much better than the Oseland one, to be honest. It was the fish in spiced coconut milk, iirc. Very different technique, too, and easier.

                                            1. re: greedygirl
                                              Gio May 28, 2009 05:37 PM

                                              I'm so glad to read that GG.... curiously I read the Indonesian/Malaysian/Singapore chapters of Solomon's book this afternoon and marked quite a few recipes for potential try-outs. Her recipes do seem simpler but have a few ingredients not mentioned in Oseland's. What is Laos powder, for instance? I also note that she has some substitutes which make such sense. And, don't forget she was born in Singapore and still lives and writes in that part of the world. I haven't had time to list and search but I do know that I'm not done with this part of the world yet.

                                              1. re: Gio
                                                jen kalb May 28, 2009 06:55 PM

                                                Laos powder is powdered galangal. We are lucky we can get the fresh/frozen stuff now - for a long time bottle of powdered spices and herbs were the only way we could cook this cuisine.

                                                there are many regions, ethnic communities and of course individual cooks in indonesia and the malay peninsula - Oseland's book is just a single man's collection so you are right in thinking that this book is just a start. Sri Owen, Carol Selvah Rajah and Terry Tan are three other authors who write authoritatively on this area - and there are others.

                                                1. re: jen kalb
                                                  Gio May 29, 2009 05:43 AM

                                                  Many thanks for your informatino, Jen!

                                              2. re: greedygirl
                                                LulusMom May 29, 2009 04:00 AM

                                                Thanks for the heads up greedygirl. I'm going to look into this book. Have you cooked other stuff from it? Been successful? Anyone else?

                                                And which particular book of hers is it? I just looked on amazon and there seem to be quite a few asian cookbooks by her. Thanks again.

                                                1. re: LulusMom
                                                  Gio May 29, 2009 05:39 AM

                                                  LLM - I've had The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon for more than a year. It was a gift from a dear friend and I have loved it. It's divided into 15 chapters each with historical, pantry, equipment and technique information for the 15 countries included in the book.

                                                  I augmented the dishes I cooked during the China and Vietnam COTMs
                                                  and am doing the same with the Indonesian dishes with recipes from this book and loved everything. . Her recipes are straight forward and easy to follow, She was born in Singapore and now lives in Austrailia. As one critic has said, "She knows what she's talking about."

                                                  http://www.charmainesolomon.com/index...

                                                  1. re: Gio
                                                    LulusMom May 29, 2009 09:10 AM

                                                    I'm intrigued (putting it lightly ... I already want to put her in my wish list on ecookbooks!). I loved both Dunlop and Pham, and still use them all the time. Would you put this book in their league?

                                                    1. re: LulusMom
                                                      Gio May 29, 2009 10:53 AM

                                                      LL - I absolutely would put her in the same league! Her writing is precise and fluid. The recipe directions are very easy and the finish dish is exactly the way she describes. As far as ingredients - a little search will quickly bring up the English words. I find myself going back to this book to corroborate or confirm certain procedures, etc. the other authors have written. It's That good.

                                                      Be advised it's an over sized book but very easy to use. I'm not sure the hard cover is still available. My friend bought my hard copy at a yard sale during the time we were cooking from Dunlop. She had no idea what a find she had... it's a first edition!

                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                        LulusMom May 29, 2009 12:02 PM

                                                        SOLD! It's now on my jessica's biscuit's wish list, and it just requires me holding back from buying it immediately. I need another cookbook like a hole in the head, but ...
                                                        Thanks for the help ladies.

                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                          greedygirl May 30, 2009 08:49 AM

                                                          I found mine in a second hand bookshop as well, so definitely worth keeping an eye out.

                                                          1. re: LulusMom
                                                            greedygirl Jun 3, 2009 06:48 AM

                                                            I thought of you yesterday when I spotted a copy in a second hand bookshop for a mere £4. In a fancy area of London too. If you're coming to London in the next few months I'll buy if for you!

                                                            1. re: greedygirl
                                                              LulusMom Jun 3, 2009 09:23 AM

                                                              greedygirl, you belie your name - you are MORE than generous! Thank you so much for thinking of me. Unfortunately I'm not on my way to London, although I'm pushing for an autumn trip. I do have this book in my ecookbooks wish list, thanks to you.

                                                              1. re: LulusMom
                                                                MMRuth Jun 3, 2009 09:24 AM

                                                                Check your email.

                                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                                  greedygirl Jun 3, 2009 09:41 AM

                                                                  I'm going to the shop either tomorrow or Friday. Would be more than happy to pick it up for you. Let me know once you've checked your emails.

                                                                  1. re: greedygirl
                                                                    LulusMom Jun 3, 2009 09:43 AM

                                                                    Yes please! And thank you so very very much. I owe you one ... (along with a few drinks).

                                                      2. re: Gio
                                                        greedygirl May 29, 2009 10:08 AM

                                                        She also has Sri Lankan and Burmese heritage, I think. I'm looking forward to trying more of her recipes now.

                                              3. re: greedygirl
                                                NYchowcook May 8, 2009 05:39 AM

                                                I'll try again to post the photo

                                              4. NYchowcook May 11, 2009 04:00 PM

                                                Black pepper crab – Ketam Lada Hitam (Singapore) – p. 264

                                                Oh. My. God. If you like crab and spicy, make this right away! Yum!

                                                I grew up eating Chesapeake Bay crabs boiled in bay seasoning. This is leagues above! Black pepper predominates in paste that includes garlic and ginger.

                                                Saute paste, then add water and crab – I used king crab legs, which I tore up into quarters and cracked, to let the flavoring paste get in there.
                                                I’m not sure where the salt comes in, but I put in when crab was in the pan. Water gets used up quickly, so I added more. I had never had the desire to cook king crab legs, but I’m a convert and will probably be jonesing for this dish whenever I see them in the fish case.

                                                It’s messy, eat with your hands and change the tablecloth afterwards. It’s worth it!

                                                Served w/ Red Stripe (Jamaican) beer. Hey, they know spicy! (And no Tiger beer at hand)

                                                 
                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: NYchowcook
                                                  Gio Jun 1, 2009 10:25 AM

                                                  Black Pepper Crab (Ketam Lada Hitam, Singapore), Pg. 264

                                                  According to one web dictionary the word 'aberration' means:
                                                  1.) a state or condition markedly different from the norm
                                                  2.) a disorder in one's mental state

                                                  So here I come with my abberation of the Black Pepper Crab recipe. At the market on Sunday the only crabs available were Dungeness crabs at 12.99/lb. Lobsters were 4.99/lb. Three pounds of crab were needed for the recipe. It took DH exactly 1/2 second to decide to get 3 large lobsters steamed.

                                                  I separated the bodies and claws from the tails and separated the knuckles from the claws. The bodies were frozen for 3 meals later in the month. (Think Lobster Fra Diavolo tomato sauce) I cracked the huge claws, sliced the tails into 3 sections each, leaving the tail fins on, and cracked the knuckles. The paste was then made as NYC described above and the recipe was followed as written.

                                                  Although I didn't swoon as NYC appears to have done, I will say the result from this blatant cultural abberation was indeed pretty good. DH, on the other hand, was still talking about it this morning. He loved it. I thought there would be more spicy sauce left in the pot to mop up but there was just enough to coat and season the lobster meat. We did not make any side dishes, as those babies were quite large... more then 2 1/2 lbs. each! Couldn't find the Red Stripe beer NYC mentioned so we finished off the Singh.

                                                  I'm actually thinking of making this again with lobsters, including chopped cilantro, sesame oil, hot chiles, less ginger. I dunno... We'll see. I'm still thinking about it.....

                                                2. Rubee May 18, 2009 01:14 PM

                                                  Stir-Fried Shrimp Sambal (Malaysia - sambal udang), p. 262

                                                  I had planned on making one of the fried chicken dishes last night, but I went to the Korean Market (Asiana in Glendale) to look for Holland chiles, and they had beautiful head-on fresh shrimp on sale for $3.99 lb.

                                                  This was so good - my first time cooking with these shrimp, and we both loved the flavor and texture (though messy as E prefers his peeled). I made the sambal earlier in the day. The Korean market only had red jalapenos, so I pureed a quarter red bell with four jalapenos, toasted shrimp paste, shallots, garlic, candlenuts, palm sugar and salt in a regular-sized food processor. The rest of dinner took only a few minutes. Fry the paste in oil in a wok for a few minutes until the paste darkens a bit, and the moisture evaporates and the paste separates from the oil. Then turn up the heat and and stir-fry the shrimp, coating with the paste. I served it with fried rice (jasmine rice with Javanese Sambal, kecap manis, fish sauce, and scallions) and leftover Asiah's Eggplant Curry.

                                                  One of my favorites from the book, and will definitely make again. E wants me to try it with shelled shrimp, so it will be interesting to compare the flavor.

                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Rubee
                                                    jen kalb May 18, 2009 01:21 PM

                                                    I made this dish a couple of weeks ago - It was fairly uncomplicated and quick as these recipes go and we thought it was good not great. - made with the remains of a cpl of bags of shrimp, shelled and unshelled in our freezer. I think everything is going to depend on the quality and juiciness of the shrimp.

                                                  2. JoanN May 21, 2009 04:44 PM

                                                    Grilled Whole Fish with Lemon Basil and Chiles (page256)

                                                    This may be the best dish I will never make again.

                                                    You take a whole fish, cut slits in the side, and marinate it in lime juice and salt while you prepare the flavoring paste. The paste consists of tamarind pulp,. lemongrass, shallots, garlic, 6 to 10 Holland chiles (I used 10), turmeric, ginger, candlenuts, tomato, palm sugar, and salt stirred into a cup of basil leaves (I used Italian because I too lazy to go to Chinatown for either lemon basil or Thai basil). You smear the fish with the paste, wrap it in banana leaves, and steam, grill, or broil it. I was going to steam it, but didn’t have a vessel large enough. Grilling wasn’t an option, so I broiled it.

                                                    It tasted great. It was spicy and flavorful and I liked it very much. But. First, I had to clear off my entire chopping block table just to have the room to spread out the banana leaves. Then my banana leaves kept tearing. I’ve never wrapped anything in banana leaves before. Maybe I just need to perfect my technique. Maybe my banana leaves had been hanging around too long, although they’d only been in my freezer about a month and he says they should keep a year. Oseland says to broil the packet until it begins to develop brown patches, about 4 to 7 minutes per side, and that a few black spots are okay. Mine turned totally dark brown after 6 minutes, with more than just a few black patches. When I went to turn the packet, a lot of the juices sloshed out so I clearly didn’t do an adequate wrapping job. I cooked it 6 minutes on the other side. It was a real mess trying to get the whole thing onto a serving platter with bits of burned banana leaf flying all over the place. You open the packet and let the fish rest for 15 minutes to let the flavors meld. I did. Last problem: The fish was only cooked on one side; the other was still mostly raw. I took all the raw and undercooked fish, put it in a dish with the leftover rice and cooked flavoring paste, and will hope that it all cooks up in the microwave tomorrow. The cleanup was a pain, too. With pieces of brittle, burned banana leaf sticking to the counter, the floor, and me.

                                                    Loved the taste, hated the process. At least I was trying this only for myself and not for company. I wonder what would happen if I just baked it in a pan covered with foil?

                                                     
                                                     
                                                     
                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: JoanN
                                                      s
                                                      smtucker May 21, 2009 06:11 PM

                                                      This is on my list of items to try. Looking at your pictures, I wonder if wrapping the fish in parchment paper might be as effective as banana leaves. Are the banana leaves moist? or are they fairly dry?

                                                      1. re: JoanN
                                                        k
                                                        Karen_Schaffer May 21, 2009 06:42 PM

                                                        Sounds delicious and frustrating! Maybe foil or parchment packets instead? I wonder if one could get the extra flavor that the banana leaves are supposed to contribute by laying them on top (or under) the fish while using foil or parchment for the real wrapper.

                                                        I often wonder if a casserole or pan with a tight-fitting lid would work for these wrapper dishes. Maybe foil would still be needed since the covers never seal as tightly.

                                                        1. re: Karen_Schaffer
                                                          JoanN May 22, 2009 03:57 AM

                                                          Excellent idea to just layer the fish between the banana leaves and use something else for wrapping. Oseland recommends foil, but I can't see why parchment wouldn't work--at least for steaming if not for broiling or grilling. (I tried, once, wrapping a fish in foil instead of banana leaves and the foil stuck to the fish skin; didn't affect the flavor, but made for a very unattractive presentation.) It's hard to know what the leaves imparted without a side-by-side taste test, something I'm not likely to do. The paste was sufficiently spicy to have probably overwhelmed any subtle flavorings anyway.

                                                          Looking at my photo again, smtucker, I see that the leaves look more dried out than they were. In actuality, the leaves were quite moist and supple in the middle, just dried and brittle on the edges. Oseland does warn you that they tear easily, It may just be the nature of the beast.

                                                          I have some leaves leftover so I'll probably give the technique one more shot with either this or some other recipe. Next time I'll try to make sure I'm using a fish sufficiently small so that once wrapped it will fit in my wok to be steamed.

                                                        2. re: JoanN
                                                          LulusMom May 22, 2009 04:01 AM

                                                          Looks and sounds delicious. I'm guessing you'll find out a lot when you heat up the leftovers, but I also think that just baking it int he pan covered with foil would be the way to go next time should you want to brave it.

                                                          1. re: JoanN
                                                            NYchowcook May 22, 2009 06:52 AM

                                                            Too funny! For this reader anyway, probably totally frustrating and annoying for the cook. I've been there the Very Last Time I made spanikopita with pieces of phyllo on the table, floor counter, and me. It was good, but totally not worth the effort!

                                                            Thanks for being such an intrepid COTM'er braving the banana leaves technique!

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