But this post is not about stories from Makkah.
My brother-in-law, together with his eldest son, run a small-scale commercial vegetable farm in Tangkak. Every time we visit them, we are rewarded with a bounty of harvest from their kebun. Depending on what's in season, they would pack some vegetables for us to take home. On our previous visit in September (before my BIL flew off for the pilgrimage), we took home some pumpkins (labu). This time around we were given some green chillies, pisang tanduk, keladi and lemongrass (serai).
Actually, not some green chillies... but a lot. Probably about 8 to 10 kilos worth. The chilli plants were fruiting so abundantly, to the extent that our nephew ran out of manpower to pluck them all. We picked as much as we could yesterday afternoon... and today my wife began sharing some of them with our neighbours and relatives here in Johor Bahru. We now have fresh green chillies to last us a whole month at least.
|Green chillies ripe for picking|
|Chilli padi just sprouting, so no picking yet|
|Plot cleared for pumpkin planting. Cloud-shrouded Gunung Ledang in the background|
|Keladi plants in between the bananas|
With a fresh supply from the farm, I couldn't resist using them tonight in a recipe I learnt from my mother - ikan bilis goreng asam (fried anchovies with tamarind paste). It is an exceedingly simple but tasty recipe that helped me survive the lean times when I was a student overseas.
Ikan bilis goreng asam
- a handful of ikan bilis (use the good quality type)
- one large onion (sliced)
- a clove of garlic (chopped finely)
- two or three fresh green chillies (rough-sliced)
- half-a-cup of tamarind juice (air perahan asam jawa)
- an optional pinch of shrimp paste (belacan)
- a teaspoon of sugar (also optional)
Heat some oil in a wok and fry the ikan bilis till crisp. Remove from wok and set aside. Reduce the oil in the wok and fry the onion and garlic until fragrant. Add the sliced green chillies and fry for a short while. Add the tamarind juice and the pinch of belacan. Stir until the liquid thickens. Add back the fried ikan bilis and mix well so that the tamarind paste coats the ikan bilis evenly. Sprinkle in the sugar and turn off the heat immediately so that the ikan bilis remain crisp and not soggy.
I prefer my onion and chilli to be a bit crunchy, so I sometimes put them towards the end of the cooking process. If you prefer to have a bit of gravy, then dilute the tamarind paste and don't reduce the liquid by too much. Serve with steaming hot rice and bull's-eye fried egg with some kicap, and that's enough of a meal for me.
Below is a pic of tonight's handiwork. Sedap tau...
|Ikan bilis asam - the dry version|