During the last book sale in December, I bought three cookbooks, series of "The Best of Singapore's Recipes" by the late Mrs Leong Yee Soo, who was most popular for her Peranakan also known as Nyonya cuisine in Singapore, especially during the 1970's. I have not tried any of her recipes before, but have heard about her recipes which are popular and well-received. Being a Peranakan (Nyonya) myself, originally from Malacca, I do have my own family recipes which I cooked at home, but it is interesting to see other versions of Nyonya cuisine. BTW, I have not been to Singapore before, gasp!!!. I know, unbelievable! I remember when I was really young, each year, one neighbour or another would go to Singapore during the school holidays and they would come home, with some new umbrellas and towels, each trip, each year! No idea why it was always umbrellas and towels, reason was, these items are pretty cheap in Singapore back then.
When Grace of Life Can Be Simple is hosting Asian Food Fest (AFF) : Singapore, for this month, this is the perfect chance for me to make use of at least one cookbook from the three that I've bought.
Browsing thru her cookbooks, I noticed there are some similarities in most recipes and yet quite different in some. For instance, this recipe Sambal Telur caught my attention, simply because of the sambal paste that is used. She called the sambal paste as "Chilli Garam Paste", whereas our version of "Chilli Garam Paste" is a little different from hers. She has used fresh red chillies and belacan (prawn paste). In my home, it would be called "Sambal Belacan". Our version of "Chilli Garam Paste" is made up of fresh red chillies and salt (which is called garam in Malay language), some shallots may be pounded together for certain dishes. I have cooked this before with fish, in my older post, here. I suppose the variation in Peranakan (Nyonya) cuisine depends on regional influence. Interesting to see the different variations yet so familiar.
Sambal Telur (Eggs in Sambal Paste)
Originally, the recipe calls for the hard-boiled eggs to be deep fried until light brown and slightly blistered. I did not do this step as I do not like hard-boiled eggs to be fried this way, it makes the outer layer of the whites sometimes rubbery. You would not find me choosing deep-fried hard-boiled eggs from the "chap-fun" stall, even if they look really good cooked in sambal! It is just my personal preference, that's all. If you like your hard-boiled eggs cooked this way, then by all means, follow the recipe, as long as you enjoy it, that's all matters!
The "Chili Garam Paste" recipe given below is for a large amount, so that you could use some now, and freeze the rest for future use. I have however made for one recipe only, enough for 4 eggs. I used 12 fresh red chillies and a small piece of belacan (prawn paste). And I have omitted the MSG.
Though this dish is nice eaten with rice, I would prefer if there are some shallots blended together with the chilli paste to make it a little "onion-y sweet". This dish is quick and easy, if you are craving for some simple spicy dish which does not takes up much time to prepare.
(adapted from "The Best of Singapore's Recipes : Hot & Spicy Treats", Mrs Leong Yee Soo)
10 eggs, hard-boiled
cooking oil for frying
140gm chilli garam paste (*refer recipe below)
1 level tsp sugar
1/2 tsp MSG, optional
pinch of salt
4 tbsp water
4 tbsp thick coconut milk
- Shell hard-boiled eggs and soak in slightly salted water for 20 minutes. Dry eggs on a tray.
- Deep-fry the eggs in hot oil until light brown and slightly blistered. Transfer to a plate.
- Remove oil from pan. In the same pan, fry the chilli garam paste over low heat until oil separates.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, heat through and pour over eggs. Serve.
Chilli Garam Paste
600gm red chillies
85gm shrimp paste, finely diced
1 cup cooking oil
2-1/4 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup water
- Coarsely pound together chillies and shrimp pase.
- Heat cooking oil in a pan, add the chilli paste and fry over moderate heat until fragrant and oil bubbles through.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir-fry until moist and oily.
- Leave to cool completely before packing into plastic containers. Store in freezer for future use.
- Note : When the chilli paste freezes, cut into 4cm (1-1/2 in) cubes, then put them back into the freezer. You can then thaw only the amount you need each time.
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