Black Pepper Crab

Sunday, 17 April 2011



Rule number one of crab handling: Make sure it's dead before cutting the string! Ask the crab politely, whilst tapping its legs with a knife or chopstick, 'Hello? Hello? Are you dead?' If it nods its head or says, "Yes, I'm dead," beware of the crafty crab! If there's no response and the legs aren't moving, then and only then should the string be cut. I never forget the rule so no, I wasn't bitten. I was just kidding!

Sambal Stingray (I)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

I love banana leaves. Rice and curry taste so much better when it's on a banana leaf.

Banana leaves are fun, and I feel good using something that's disposable yet traditional and natural.

Who says only modern people are lazy?

Whoever first thought of using banana leaves as plates must have hated washing up, just like me!

The banana leaf in sambal stingray is the unsung hero. The sambal takes all the glory but even a good one would be even better with the banana leaf's subtle smokiness. Isn't the nicely charred leaf a perfect frame for the gleaming, red sambal? Sambal stingray without banana leaf just wouldn't be the same (though it's still better than no sambal stingray at all).

17 September 2012 Update

Here's my video guide for making sambal stingray:



SAMBAL STINGRAY
(Recipe for 3-4 persons)
Sambal (makes about 1 cup)
150 g shallots
75 g garlic
15 g ginger
40 g lemongrass, tender, non-bitter part only
50 g red chillies
15 g dried chillies
trim stems, cut 2 cm long, soak in warm water till soft, about 30 minutes; squeeze dry and discard water

15 g belacan (fermented shrimp paste)
roast at 150°C or dry-fry over medium-low heat till dry and crumbly
20 g tamarind paste
mash with 2 tbsp hot water, drain and discard seeds and pulp

½ cup vegetable oil
30 g palm sugar, roughly chopped
¼ tsp salt

1 piece stingray wing, 400-500 g
rinse and drain; cut a 2-3 slits in thicker end along the grain
1/3 tsp salt
1 piece frozen banana leaf
thaw and rinse; trim to fit baking tray
Garnish
calamansi limes, halved
red onion, thinly sliced
tomato or pineapple wedges
cucumber slices

Wash, trim, peel and roughly chop shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and red chillies as appropriate. Grind or pound with dried chillies and belachan till smooth.

Stir-fry sambal paste with vegetable oil over medium heat till fragrant and colour darkens, about 15 minutes. Add palm sugar. Stir-fry till dissolved. Add tamarind water and salt. Stir-fry till oil separates. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat. Leave till cool.

You should have about 1 cup. Use about 1/2 cup for 400-500 g stingray. Remaining 1/2 cup may be stored for a few weeks refrigerated.

Preheat grill to 230°C (450°F). Line baking tray with aluminium foil. Lightly brush with vegetable oil.

Place stingray on baking tray, white side up. Season lightly with salt, including slits. Grill till 70-80% cooked, about 5 minutes depending on thickness of fish. Spread with sambal, thinly. Grill till top of stingray feels firm when pressed chopsticks, about 5 minutes.

Lift stingray from baking tray with a spatula. Place banana leaf in tray. Flip stingray onto banana leaf. Season lightly with salt. Grill till 70-80% cooked, about 7 minutes depending on thickness. Spread with sambal, thickly. Grill till fully cooked and sambal is sizzling and slightly charred, 5 minutes or so.

Slide foil, leaf and fish onto serving plate. Pull foil from underneath banana leaf and discard.

Garnish and serve immediately.

Herbal Mutton Soup

Thursday, 7 April 2011

My mother cooked just about everyday, and not once did she cook mutton, lamb or goat anything – not once. Hence, my knowledge of cooking anything that goes 'Meh-eh-heh!' or 'Baa-aaa!' is pretty paltry. I learn on the job which is, if you ask me, a fun way of learning.