Friday, 27 February 2009

Dinner duty

The wife has been a bit under the weather for the past two days and so tonight, I took the opportunity to revive my cooking skills.

I had my son cook the rice and also make some scrambled eggs. I decided to try out the sambal ikan bilis belimbing buluh recipe that I included in the previous post. Our belimbing tree is still sprouting bunches of fruits and I picked some fresh ones to be used in this dish.

Since it was the first time of trying, I wasn't sure what to expect. As all good cooks know, the method mentioned in any recipe is generally just a guide. It takes a fair bit of judgement and personal experience to decide on just when and how much a particular ingredient is to be added. For example, the phrase `... goreng hingga kekuningan' can be quite ambiguous to a novice. To what degree of `kuning' shall the paste be fried to?

Anyway, I could not follow the recipe exactly because I did not have shallots (substituted with plain bawang besar) and bird's eye chillies (replaced with plain cili hijau). Although I used a bit of soy sauce, the sambal did not quite turn out totally black (is it supposed to be?). It was more of a deep dark brown colour. I suspect it would've turned darker if I continued to fry it until `garing', as spelt out in the recipe. But rather than risk it being overcooked, I stopped the frying just as when I thought it tasted about right.

So exactly how did my sambal hitam taste? Not as good as the ones my Pahang-based readers have mentioned, I'm sure, but boleh la... as a first attempt. According to my wife and sons, not too bad. The sambal has a nice tangy taste of the asam belimbing while maintaining the flavour of the ikan bilis.

With a bit more practice, I believe I can improve on the taste. I'm sure using shallots instead of large onions makes a big difference. The quality of the ikan bilis itself is quite important too. In the hands of a master cook, this dish is guaranteed mouth-watering. It goes down well with plain white rice. I reckon it would also go well with ubi rebus.

While I was at it, I also cooked another version of ikan bilis goreng asam... basically as a back-up, just in case the sambal hitam attempt resulted in failure. This recipe is a variation of the one I learnt from my mother. It involves frying the ikan bilis until crisp and then temporarily set aside. Fry some chopped onions, garlic and chopped green chillies until fragrant. Add a dash of oyster sauce and soy sauce plus salt to taste. The original version would then use a bit of air asam jawa (tamarind paste mix). I substituted this with fresh asam belimbing slices. After a few minutes of frying, the ikan bilis is added back into the pan and mixed well with the sauce.

Served with hot plain rice, this dish is simple but delicious. It was a life-saver during the years I struggled as a student overseas. Sorry about the plain-looking picture. Too hungry to wait.

The final dish I prepared was ayam goreng kunyit dengan kacang buncis. This choice was really based on what I could find in the fridge; two pieces of chicken fillet and some french beans. Quick, easy and tasty too.

14 comments:

HLiza said...

Ha ha ha..I like it when guys cook; because they normally will run away from the norm and willing to try something different. I will normally give good review if my hubby cooks; so that he won't be discouraged..but most of the time my kids love his 'air tangan' better than mine!

Kama said...

You are such a good one, Oldstock, masuk dapur when the wifey is not well. Kalau Pak Abu, dah takeaway dah tu..hehehe.. dia tak kenal dapur, let alone cook!

Oldstock said...

Hliza,

Your hb is probably an adventurous cook like me. Kids usually like their father's cooking because it not a normal thing.... happens only once in a while.

Another way you can look at it is that the kids must always say their father's cooking is good... otherwise he'll never cook anymore, heheheh.

Oldstock said...

Kama,

Setiap suami tu ada keupayaan dan kelebihan masing-masing. Pak Abu kata, dia boss... jadi takyah nak ke dapur, heheheh.

Actually, sejak berumahtangga, I very seldom cook. Kalau org rumah tak sihat, kami biasanya tapau atau makan kat kedai je. But since we had eaten out the previous day, I decided to cook, for change.

Patricia said...

Hi Oldstock,

It looks good! Never mind it is not exactly like the recipe - I believe we usually makes things to the taste of our own palates, anyway.

Chuan is a good cook, and while I cook weekdays, he's the cook on weekends! Aren't I the lucky one? Hahahah! But he loves to cook, and I love having him do it - washing up and all :)

Btw, that belimbing tree brings back old memories for me. My aunt had a house in Ampang Hilir, KL, way, way back when I was little. And they had a tree just like the pix in your previous post!

As far as I can remember, it was always with fruit - and we were always walking around with some in our hands! It was horribly sour - my salivary glands are on overdrive now!!! - but that never stopped us kids!

VersedAnggerik said...

I say, sambal hitam U tak cukup hitam! Hehehe...

The ones kat sini, hitam, pekat dan likat.

But, kudos to U for cooking while wifey is down. That itself is a noble thing to do!

hanitha said...

salam bro, sesungguhnya klu hubby masuk dapur..satu perkara yg amat meriangkn la..tp dapur mesti berkecah..wat about u?? ehehehe
anyway, sedapnya lauk2 tu..mkn plak ngan nasi panas..mesti bertambah2 kan..
aper lgk resipi yg bro tau??

Snakebite said...

sambal hitam tu bukan patut di tumbuk ke? sampai tak leh kenal ikan bilis dgn belimbing tu. for years i've been eating sambal hitam not knowing it was bilis and belimbing.

i got a son and a dotter. the macho son loves helping his mother cooking but the very ladylike dotter hates the kitchen.

sheesh. tebalik donia.

Oldstock said...

Hi Pat,

Wah! You're so lucky that Chuan's a good cook. You'll never be hungry.

The belimbing buluh is quite a hardy tree. Ours has been there when we first bought the house more than 15 years ago.

Oldstock said...

Verse,

That's what I thought... tak cukup hitam. I stopped the frying process because I takut dia hangus, nanti dah tak dapat rasa langsung.

I really must taste the real sambal hitam before I make the 2nd attempt on my own. Maybe my next trip to Kuantan, you'll take me to the places you've mentioned.

Alaa... memasak masa org rumah tak sihat tu, taklah se noble mana. Kebetulan kena time rajin sikit, heheheh.

Oldstock said...

Hanitha,

Kalau hb u masuk dapur, dah kira bagus la tu. Part dapur jadi berkecah tu, small matter je. Yang penting dia nak tolong masak.

Dulu time I student, memang la banyak resipi yg I boleh masak. Tapi bila dah kahwin, banyak yg dah lupa. Cuma kalau setakat masakan jenis stir-fry (atau ala campak-campak), boleh la buat dgn konfiden :-)

Oldstock said...

Snake,

According to the recipe, bilis tu memang ditumbuk, tapi tak sampai lumat. Maybe supaya ada rasa crunchy sikit agaknya. As I said, I really must try the real thing.

Your macho son likes to help his mother cook, huh? That's good and should be encouraged. Your daughter probably has skills for other things. Asal jgn tak reti masak nasi, dah le... heheheh.

Ki Moira said...

the boss who cooks :)

Oldstock said...

Moira,

Setakat masak utk 4 - 5 orang tu boleh la.. :-)