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Thai Ground Pork Stir Fry with Basil ‘Pad Krapow’

Like many other Thai foods, this is a very appetizing dish that goes very well with fragrant jasmine rice. I just made it a few days ago and now I’m in the mood of making it again!It’s very easy to prepare, and I guarantee  your belly will be satisfied, adding bowls and bowls of jasmine rice to go with it 🙂

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Thai Ground Pork Stir Fry with Basil ‘Pad Krapow’

Thai Ground Pork Stir Fry with Basil ‘Pad Krapow’ (serves 2-3 people):

Ingredients:
1/2 ground pork (optional– lightly seasoned with little salt and ground white pepper)
1 tbsp rice cooking wine
3 cloves garlic– chopped
3-4 Thai red hot peppers– chopped
1/2 medium onion– diced
1/2 red bell pepper– diced
handful Thai basil leaves

Seasoning sauce (mix well):
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce– “Three Crabs” brand preferred
1 tsp sugar>
juice of 1 lemon or lime

Method:

  1. Add 1 tbsp cooking oil to a hot wok. Add ground pork. Stir the meat to have a roughly even layer (not a big lump). Fry til the bottom is slightly brown. Stir around to loose up the meat. Add cooking wine (a must!) to remove any meat smell/taste.
  2. Add in garlic and red hot peppers. Stir until it gets aromatic.
  3. Add in seasoning sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes for the pork to soak up the flavor. When the sauce is almost dry, add in diced onion and red bell pepper and stir a few times.
  4. Add in basil leaves and make a few stirs, until the basil leaves are wilted. Dish out and serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Thai basil leaves— Use Thai basil, not sweet basil which is used in western cuisine. And don’t be stingy about it– it’s the soul of this dish.
  • If lime is used, you might need a little more sugar to balance the sour taste.
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I got some precooked Jonah crab claws at Safeway when it was on sale. Instead of dipping the crab meat in clarified butter or cooking it Malaysian buttery curry style, I decide to try something new~~ Singapore black pepper style! I did a very last minute recipe search online and used this recipefor reference.

OMG it was so good! For the mount of the crab claws I used, I think I put a bit too much peppercorns(on top of 4 red hot peppers in it)… It was VERY peppery and spicy, and yet I just couldn’t help licking the sauce on the shells, on my fingers (yes, it requires all ten fingers!). Now I have another delicious crab recipe on file :-). Next time I will try the recipe with fresh Dungeness crabs instead of pre cooked crab claws; I’m sure the flavor will get even better.

Black Pepper Crabs 黑椒炒蟹

Black Pepper Crabs 黑椒炒蟹

Black Pepper Crabs Recipe (adapted from here, serves 4 people)

Ingredients:
3 lbs precooked Jonah crab claws– see note below
4 slices fresh ginger– cut into thin strips
2 cloves garlic– minced
4 small red hot pepper– chopped
6-8 fresh curry leaves
3 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter

Spices mix (combined together and grind fine, but not super fine):
1 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
1 1/2 tbsp white peppercorns
1/4 tsp coriander seeds

Sauce mix (mix well to dissolve sugar, set aside):
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp ketchap manis– see note below
4 tbsp hot water

Method:

  1. Make a few cracks on each claws if they are not cracked previously. Pat dry with a paper towel. If you prepare ahead of time, place cracked claws in bowl/container lined with paper towel. Cover and chill in the fridge. Bring to room temperature when you are ready to cook.
  2. Heat up a wok on high heat. Add oil, butter, ginger, garlic, red hot pepper and curry leaves. Fry until butter melts and the flavor comes out. Add crab claws and stir fry for a minute.
  3. Add in ground spices, stir to distribute evenly. Cook for another minute or until crab claws are heated through.
  4. Add in sauce mix, stir a few more times. Add a few more tbsp of hot water if you prefer more sauce. Dish out. Serve immediately.

Regina’s Note:

  • Crab claws: I used precooked crab claws this time because that was what I had at that time. However, I don’t suggest using frozen precooked crabs/crab claws as they usually taste nothing like crab– salty, tasteless, rubbery etc. I got lucky is time as my frozen precooked Jonah crab claws still tasted like crab. Fresh live crabs are the BEST for this recipe because of its fresh seafood flavor. If fresh crabs are used in this recipe, cut crabs into chunks, then follow the steps and cook crabs until it is just cooked through. Then add in sauce mix, stir for a few times before dishing out.
  • Ketchap manis: This can be found in Asian grocery stores, in South East Asia food section. It is a thick morsel sauce, black in color and tastes sweet (‘ketchap manis’ means sweet sauce in Malay/Indonesian)

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When I was making otak-otak #3 trial, I thought it was perfect already– until I made this version. I added an egg this time to make the otak-otak , and skipped tapioca starch and used less water. The result: the egg really makes otak-otak very tender. In terms of flavor, texture and color, this #4 trial is REALLY close to what I just had in my hometown in Malaysia over this past summer! And my two boys even can take the spice and start to love otak-otak. They were saying the other they want otak-otak for dinner!:-)

Muar "Otak-Otak" #4 麻坡乌达

Muar “Otak-Otak” #4 麻坡乌达

Muar “Otak-Otak” # 4 麻坡乌达 Recipe (serves 4-6 people)

Ingredients:
1 container (12 oz) fish paste– see note below
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp water
1 egg
1 small can (164 ml) coconut milk– stir well

Spice paste:
1 clove garlic– minced
1 shallot– minced
6 tbsp oil
3 tbsp sambal or chili paste
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

Method:

  1. In a big sauce pan, fry garlic and shallot with 6 tbsp of oil until aromatic. Add in remaining spice paste ingredients. Stir to mix well. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. Add all other ingredients into the sauce pan. Stir to blend well. Pour the mixture into a greased shallow pan, smooth the top. Steam on high heat for 10 minutes. Serve with steam rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Fish paste: different brand of fish paste does make otak-otak taste differently. I prefer 佳发brand (see picture below)– it is frozen and can be found in Asian grocery stores. I tried 味全brand frozen fish paste, but found it is not good for making otak-otak. (1/31/12 update: I have bought 佳发brand frozen fish paste a couple of times later but they were bad both times, which was disappointing. I now use  港榮 brand fresh lady fish paste (see bottom picture). This brand is available at 99 Ranch Market, under packaged fresh seafood section.
港榮 brand fresh lady fish paste

港榮 brand fresh lady fish paste

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While I went back to Malaysia and Singapore this summer, I got the chance to stay at my aunt’s house and tasted all the delicious food her maid Lis made (she is a wonderful cook!). One of the food I had over there is curry pork ribs. This dish really changed my mind about pork and curry combination, as I never have the combination before. I asked Lis for the recipe, and here’s my version. The ribs are tender, packed with flavors– it’s not quite curry and not quite rendang, but somewhere between.

Tangy Curry Pork Ribs

Tangy Curry Pork Ribs

Tangy Curry Pork Ribs (serves 6-8 people)

Ingredients:
3 lbs pork spare ribs– cut into pieces
5 slices ginger
water to boil the ribs (water must cover the ribs in the pot)

Spice paste(blend well with enough water):
5 cloves garlic
10 shallots
1 inch ginger
2 inch galangal
1 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
2 buah keras
2 tsp balancan

3 tbsp sambal chili
3 lemon grass– use only the whitish part, crush with a knife handle
2 kiffir lime leaves
7 oz. coconut milk
4-5 cups of pork stock from boiling pork ribs
3-4 tbsp tamarind water (1 tbsp tamarind paste+5 tbsp hot water, mix well)
salt and sugar to taste

Method:

  1. Boil water in a deep pot. Add ginger slices and spare ribs (water must cover the ribs), cover and boil on high heat for 10 minutes. Reduce to medium heat, continue cooking for another 30-40 minutes. Remove the meat and discard any impurities. Keep the stock.
  2. While the pork is boiling, blend spice paste in a blender, adding just enough water to facilitate blending.
  3. Heat a frying pan and add 2 tbsp oil. Fry lemon grass until aromatic, pour in spice paste. Keep stirring until some liquid evaporates and the paste is aromatic.
  4. Add in sambal chili, kiffir lime leaves and coconut milk. Turn heat down to medium and keep stirring, until the sauce thickens and red oil starts to form from the bubbly holes.
  5. Add in the ribs, pork stock and tamarind water, stir to mix well. Cover with a lid, cook until the sauce reduces and the ribs absorb the flavor. Stir every few minutes to prevent burn at the bottom. Add in more pork stock if the sauce dries too fast. Add salt to taste.

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“Rendang” is a type of stew that tastes like curry, but with a tangy flavor as tamarind juice is used to create that slightly sour taste. If you use chicken then it is called rendang chicken, use beef then it becomes rendang beef. I have made rendang chicken before with spice paste made from scratch. It was very delicious, except it took a good 30-45 minutes to cook the spices paste which kinda of drives me away sometimes when I just don’t have the time for it.

Now, the problem solved with the help of “bamboe” brand rendang instant spices paste. One of my Chinese drawing classmates made rendang beef with instant spice paste for our potluck gathering last year, and it turned out very delicious– the sauce was rich in flavor and the beef was very tender. I finally tried out the instant spice the other day; it was very easy indeed as per instructions. All you need are cut beef chunks, instant spice paste and coconut milk, nothing else– not even salt! And yet, the result is very promising restaurant style gourmet food that will impress everyone. Try it out for your next potluck.

Rendang Beef

Rendang Beef

Rendang Beef (serves 4-6 people)

Ingredients:
2 1/2 lb beef– see note below
2 packs “bamboe” Brand rendang instant spices paste– see picture below
2 cans (about 14 fl. oz. each) coconut milk– see note below

Method:

  1. Cut beef into bite size chunks. Boil beef in a large pot along with 3-4 slices of fresh ginger (optional– to remove any beef meaty smell). Be sure there is enough water to cover the beef during boiling. Cover and cook over medium heat for at least 1 hour, until the meat is tender. Remove beef and discard ginger.
  2. Put beef, instant spices paste and coconut milk in another pot. Stir the sauce to blend well. Cook over medium heat, uncovered and stir occasionally, until the sauce thickens to a gravy stage– at this point there will be oil forming from the bubbling sauce and the sauce looks like spicy oily mud (if you cook longer there will be more oil (from coconut milk) forming). Serves hot with steamed rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Beef: I like to use beef tri tip cut as it has some marble fat, but you can also use beef cuts for stew.
  • Coconut milk: Regardless of what brand I use, I always check the nutrition fact for the total fat content– the higher the percentage the better, meaning it has more coconut milk instead of water. One of the highest percentage I found is 27% (Yep, that is why rendang dishes is only a rare occasion treat due to its fat content ;-))
  • Spiciness: The spices paste is not spicy at all. I have to add 1-2 tbsp of homemade sambal chilli sauce to make it a little spicy.
Rendang Beef-- the instant spices paste

Rendang Beef-- the instant spices paste

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I remember one evening over 8 years ago, I cooked curry chicken for dinner. But right after cooking I just didn’t have the appetite for it at all, and even had a little nausea. I didn’t know what had happened, until a month later I found out I was pregnant with our first child Alexander. I stayed away from this food during that pregnancy. Even after I gave birth to Alexander, there was a period of time I was hesitated to eat curry chicken again. Thank goodness the fear went away!

Curry Chicken

Curry Chicken

Malaysian Curry Chicken Recipe (serves 8-10 people)

Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs– cut each thigh into 3 pieces
8 chicken legs– cut each leg in half
4 tbsp meat curry powder
2 tbsp salt
1.5 lbs potatoes
2 cloves garlic– chop finely
2 small cans (165 ml/5.6 fl oz each) of coconut milk– stir well
salt to taste

for curry sauce (for 3-4 serving, can be prepared ahead and kept frozen):
1 pack “A1 Best Globe” brand curry paste
1 big can (400 ml/13.5 fl oz) of coconut milk– stir well
3 buah keras– chop very finely
2 stalks fresh curry leaves
2 tbsp sambal chili

Method:

  1. Prepare curry sauce: Heat up 3 tbsp oil in a frying pan over high heat. Saute buah keras and curry leaves briefly until aromatic. Add in curry paste and sambal chili, stir for a few minutes. Pour in coconut milk and turn down to medium heat. Stir constantly to prevent burning at the bottom. Cook until the sauce bubbles with red oil sipping out from the bubbles (I call it “volcano eruption” :-)). At this point the sauce should be aromatic. Continue stirring curry sauce for a couple of minutes. The consistency of the sauce will look like oily mud (I call it “lava” :-)– see picture below). Set aside. The sauce can be prepared ahead and kept frozen in batches.
  2. Clean chicken pieces and rinse well. Rub chicken with 2 tbsp of salt and curry powder. Season for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into big chunks. Soak potatoes in lightly salted water to prevent browning. Drain when ready to cook.
  3. Heat up 3 tbsp oil in a wok over high heat. Add potatoes and stir for a few minutes (potatoes are partially cooked). Dish out but maintain high heat. Add in 2 tbsp oil and saute garlic briefly. Add in chicken pieces, stir constantly until there’s no more blood coming out from the bones. Pour in coconut milk, potatoes and 3 tbsp of curry sauce, cook until chicken are cooked and potatoes are soft, stir occasionally. When these is little liquid, add in more curry sauce (adjust to personal preference) and salt to taste. The sauce should be of thick consistency. Serve with steam rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • If there’s still lots of liquid in the wok when chicken are cooked and potatoes are soft, remove chicken pieces and potatoes then cook down the liquid a little more, so chicken and potatoes are not overcooked. However, if there’s too dry then add in some hot water.
  • Always to stir constantly especially when the sauce thicken, to prevent burning at the bottom of the wok.
  • A slightly thinner curry sauce is always good for dipping bread.
Making curry chicken :-)

Making curry chicken 🙂

Curry sauce

Curry sauce

Making curry chicken :-)

Making curry chicken 🙂

 

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Yes! I am proud to say I have finally perfected this recipe, after the first trial and the second trial— it tastes almost the same like the ones I had growing up in Muar. This time around the otak-otak is much softer and moisted, and has a sheen layer of chili oil. I was out time and chose to steam cook, instead of wrapped with banana leafe and pan grilled.

Muar "Otak-Otak" Trial #3 麻坡乌达-- best version!

Muar "Otak-Otak" Trial #3 麻坡乌达-- best version!

Muar “Otak-Otak” Trial #3 麻坡乌达 Recipe (makes 1 round deep dish plate of 11 inch diameter)

Ingredients:
1 container (12 oz) fish paste– see note below
1 cloves garlic– minced
1 shallot– minced
2-3 red hot Thai peppers (optional)– finely chopped

Seasoning:
2 tbsp sambal or chili paste
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp turmeric  powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp paprika powder (optional– for more brilliant color)
6 tbsp oil– see note below
4 tbsp water

150 ml (about 2/3 cup) thick coconut milk

Method:

  1. Saute garlic, shallots and red peppers with little oil until aromatic. Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine all seasoning (except water) in a big bowl. Mix in sauted garlic, shallots and red peppers. Add in fish paste and blend well.
  3. Add in water, follow by coconut milk, and mix well. Pour mixture onto a greased deep dish round plate, smooth the surface. Steam for 10 minutes until otak-otak is cooked.

Regina’s Note:

  • Fish paste: different brand of fish paste does make otak-otak taste differently. I prefer 佳发brand (see picture below)– it is frozen and can be found in Asian grocery stores. I tried 味全brand frozen fish paste, but found it is not good for making otak-otak. (1/31/12 update: I have bought 佳发brand frozen fish paste a couple of times later but they were bad both times, which was disappointing. I now use  港榮 brand fresh lady fish paste (see bottom picture). This brand is available at 99 Ranch Market, under packaged fresh seafood section.
This is the brand of frozen fish paste I used for making otak-otak.

This is the brand of frozen fish paste I used for making otak-otak.

港榮 brand fresh lady fish paste

港榮 brand fresh lady fish paste

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