Making Tamarind Paste
I purchased a pound of fresh tamarind and set out to make tamarind paste. I began by shelling the pulp from the pods. I tasted a bite from the end of the pod and found the raw flavor quite lovely actually. I added the pulp and one cup of water to a sauce pan and began warming it over medium heat. I stood over the pot smashing and mashing the pulp until the seeds started popping out. Eventually, I had a mixture that looked similar to apple butter with large seeds in it. I pushed the mixture through a strainer and returned it to the saucepan to cook down into a paste. It was actually very simple.
As a side note, I saved some of the mixture that looked like apple butter before I reduced it into a paste. I added a touch of honey to it and, voila….tamarind butter! I spread it on toast, and I must say it was quite delicious.
Saturday Night Dinner: Laksa, Nasi Lemak, and Rendang
|Beef Rendang and Nasi Lemak|
From the moment I read the description of beef rendang, I knew it was a dish that must be included in the project. Rendang refers to a spicy meat dish that is dry-braised in a chile paste and coconut milk until it is dark and tender. Again, I chose Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World as a guideline for preparing this dish. I made a paste of ginger, scallions, garlic, turmeric, lemongrass, coriander, chiles, and tamarind paste. I slathered chunks of beef chuck with this paste and let it marinate for about an hour. Then, I browned it in a skillet, added coconut milk, and sautéed it until most of the sauce had dried up. I covered the dish and let it simmer over low heat for another thirty minutes. The result is a rich, tender beef dish perfectly complemented by the creamy, coconut milk-infused rice.
Sunday’s Malaysian Grill: Otak Otak and Tauhu Bakar
|Malaysian Grill: Otak Otak in |
Banana Leaves & Tofu brushed
with chile peanut sauce
This week’s Malaysian dishes offered an interesting twist on familiar preparations and ingredients. The highlights of the week were definitely the beef rendang and the grilled tofu with chile peanut sauce. The combination of influences from China, India, and Indonesia came together in a pleasing manner and definitely gave me a better idea of what Malaysia’s dishes offer.