The other day my friend’s comment caused an overdrive in my crazy craving – this time for the very simple dish of blanched okra with sambal hae bi. Oof..! My mind couldn’t think or concentrate on anything else except that. Everything else tasted bland and uninteresting. It was a torture..
I had to drive to 3 supermarkets in order to complete my ingredient search – yes, our normal ingredients such as shallots and red chilies are considered ‘exotic’ here and are seasonal! I spent an hour pounding everything into a paste with my small pestle and mortar (I have myself to blame for this as I wanted to have an authentic taste and sambal does taste better from a good pounding). I spent another half an hour to cook and another half an hour to clean up… and it took me less than 10mins to lick the plate clean. I still think my mom’s sambal hae bi taste better, but hey, who’s complaining! This’ll have to do until my next trip back home… It did satisfy my cravings… for a simple Malaysian salad.
I made extra to keep for emergency – I love to spread it on bread. It can also be used as a condiment for stir-fries or to flavor salads such as raw four angled beans, snake beans and blanched okras.
150gm dried shrimps, soaked, cleaned and lightly pounded
2 tbsp tamarind paste + 1 cup water, strained for juice
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely julienned
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp anchovies stock granules
Salt to taste
Enough oil to saute
5 dried chilies, soaked
5 red chilies, seeded
3 cloves garlic
2 stalks lemongrass
1 inch turmeric root
1 tbsp finely chopped torch ginger flower
Pound all the ingredients for the spice paste.
Heat oil in a wok and saute the spice paste over medium heat until aromatic and the oil has separated from the side. Add tamarind juice and let the mixture bubble for a while. Add the slightly pounded dried shrimps. Stir fry to mix well. Add in the kaffir lime leaves, torch ginger flower and seasoning. Don’t add salt until you test taste as dried shrimps are naturally salty.
Simmer under low heat until mixture is dried to the desired texture. Dish out to cool.