nasi goreng jawa

Javanese fried rice.

This is typically made with a dried shrimp paste called belacan but it is very pungent and I have had friends living in Europe who had complaints made against them by neighbours because of their cooking with belacan.  I very rarely use belacan in my own cooking so I don’t feel it’s worth the space in my crammed pantry to have it there, but I know most Malay kitchens wouldn’t be complete without it.  As a substitute for belacan, I’ve found that using canned anchovy results in a satisfyingly similar flavour without the pungency that some can’t bear.  Even if you do use belacan, I would recommend you not use more than 1/2 a teaspoon, and it should be added to the wok and dry fried, set aside before proceeding with the recipe below.  Add the toasted belacan back to the wok in place of the anchovy.  (If you buy belacan, get the Malaysian variety for this one.  Thai belacan is not the same as Malay belacan and tastes very different) Read More →

Malays and Indonesians and quite certainly the rest of Indo-China, have a vast array of chilli dips, also known in Malay as sambal.  Maybe you already know this, but it is always eaten in small amounts, perhaps a teaspoon or so, on the side of your dish to add to your food as you eat your way through the meal, not to mix in with your meal to a homogenous flavour.  In each mouthful you are supposed to have nuances of sour, heat, salt, sweet, whatever the particular sambal is made of, in differing levels and strengths, lilting upwards and then downwards like a colourful song, not as a boring monotone.

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