This post has been in the making for over a week now. But nothing but the best for Rosie and Pixie's Putting Up Event.
When I first read about this event, I thought, "ok, I'll just sit this one out". I have never made any sort of preserve in my life. I don't have any tools and I don't have storage. But, Pixie takes no prisoners. My small kitchen was no excuse. So the pressure was on. When I told Giz that I was going to be trying Kittie's from Kittens in the Kitchen Malaysian Rempah paste, she said, "Perfect - submit it for Putting It Up. So, if this paste is bending the boundaries of Putting It Up, blame Giz. In fact, I'll just go ahead and say that any mistakes I make are Giz's fault. Nothing like making sure someone else takes responsibility for my actions.
Back to the Malaysian paste...You'll recall that I recently tried, unfulfillingly, to simulate the delicious flavours of Thai food that I've eaten while out for dinner. In fact, here are some pictures from my last visit to Giz's, about a month ago (yes, I gave in and visited), when we went out for Thai food:
Since the store-bought curry is not even close to food I've eaten while out for dinner, I figured, I would need to make something from scratch. When I saw Kittie's recipe, I thought it was a perfect first attempt recipe. Sure, it's Malaysian, but I think the flavours/ingredients are quite similar to what you would find in Thai food (please clarify this for me if I'm wrong).
Purchasing the ingredients for this post was a bit of an adventure in itself. R and I headed out for Chinatown and visited a Thai grocery store. I asked a guy to help me find all of the ingredients. He could have shown me fish heads and I would have believed him. I was suprised at how available most of the ingredients were and that they were reasonably priced. Between $1 - $2/item.
What follows is a video of me making the paste. NOTES: no, I do not sound like a 12 year old dink in person....just on video.
Malaysian Rempah Paste
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1” cinnamon stick
2 tbsp peanuts, ground to a paste
1” piece galangal – peeled, roughly chopped
2” piece fresh ginger – peeled, roughly chopped
2 small pieces fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp ground) – peeled (careful, will turn your hands yellow for several days...trust me on this)
4 garlic cloves – peeled
9 Thai shallots – peeled, roughly chopped
6 Thai red chillies – stalks removed, seeds in
2 4” lemongrass sticks – inc bulb
The zest of 1 lime
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp groundnut oil (used canola instead)
2 tbsp finely grated coconut
In a dry pan, toast coriander, fennel, cumin seeds and cinnamon until they start to release their aromas. Grind in a mortar and pestle.
Take all the fresh ingredients and grind to a smooth paste.
Mix all of the fresh ingredients with the ground spices and sauces. The paste will keep in the fridge for up to two months – store in a glass jar, with a layer of oil to prevent oxidization.
Also, thanks to Kittie's advice and great use of the paste, I also found inspiration from her Thai Green Curry with Chicken.
4 bnls skls chicken breasts, diced
1 red pepper
1/2 courgette (zucchini)
1/2 aubergine (eggplant)
3 lime leaves, shredded (didn't have)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1" piece ginger, grated
3 tbsp curry paste
1 400ml tin coconut milk, or two small ones
Oil to fry
Thai basil leaves
Heat oil in a hot wok, add 2 tablespoons of curry paste and fry for about 30 seconds. Add a few tablespoons of coconut milk. Add the chicken and fry until opaque. At this point add the ginger, garlic, lime leaves, and the remaining paste. Fry for another couple of minutes.
Stir in the remaining coconut milk and the red peppers, then turn to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for about 6 minutes - until the peppers are slightly softened, but still have a good 'bite'.
Add the aubergine and courgette, simmer for another couple of minutes and serve over steamed rice. I didn't use aubergine (eggplant). Instead, I added a variety of peppers. I also added extra Thai red chillis - but didn't eat them because they were too spicy. In fact, I had residual stinging from holding the chillis.
Overall, both the paste and chicken are very good. It doesn't taste like the Thai food I eat in restaurants, so that seach continues. But, this paste is a good addition. I have about 3/4 of a jar remaining, so I'm looking forward to trying other variations. One note, is that I would probably add more vegetables next time and cut the chicken pieces smaller. It also needed a touch of salt/sweetness. I added soy sauce and that did the trick.