Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Udang Masak Lemak Nenas, a Nyonya Classic

Masak Lemak Nenas is another quintessential nyonya dish, a must-try dish when you attempt to explore nyonya cuisine.  You walk into any nyonya restaurant, this dish is undeniably one of THE dish that the waiter will highly recommend that you order.     

The sweetness from the pineapples and prawns, the saltiness from the salted fish, the creaminess from the coconut milk, the spiciness from the chilli paste coupled with the extra tang from the lemongrass, galangal, tumeric and ginger all of which just blend so perfectly, giving the whole dish a good balance, guarantee to please and satisfy your palate to the max.  This is indeed a dish your taste buds will thank you dearly.

Needless to say, this has always been one of my top favourite nyonya dish and my classic comfort food until today. Masak Lemak Nenas is always served with steamed white rice.  For my personal preference, I always complement it with sambal belacan (another must-try nyonya-style chillie paste) or sambal cili garam (another classic Nyonya sambal).  Like most nyonya dishes especially if they are gravy based, we the Peranakans (the Sraits born) will always eat using our five fingers as we can practically lick each of them if the dish is good.  Oh, I'm drooling now!!

Now, let's get down to the recipe.....

  • 200g prawns
  • 150g pineapples, sliced
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 3 cups of water 
  • 1 salted Ikan Sepat (Gourami fish)
  • sugar
  • salt
  • oil to fry
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (optional), I omit this
  • 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste
 To blend (A)
  • 10 fresh chillies, I used about 6 as my family can't really take too spicy
  • 15 shallots or a palm full
  •  3 pips of garlic
  • 1/2 inch of galangal
  • 1/2 inch of turmeric
  • 2 stalks of lemon grass, sliced
  • 3 candlenuts
  • 5g of belacan (shrimp paste)

Steps to prepare

  1. Toast belacan over fire or on a dry pan until fragrant.
  2. Blend all ingredients in (A). Add some water to ease blending process.
  3. Add oil to pan and fry (A) until fragrant. When it’s fragrant, the paste will change into a darker shade of red.
  4. Add water.
  5. Add pineapples and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Then, add coconut milk. Make sure the fire is small and keep stirring or else the gravy will turn lumpy.
  7. Add prawns, ikan sepat, tamarind paste and sugar. Wait until prawns cook.
  8. Finally, switch stove off and add kaffir lime leaves. Stir evenly and serve.