From Pulao to.. Walao!! Part 1
This whole episode started with me having absolutely no shame.
I invited myself to my friend's cookout, making it clear that I WILL be invited to his Chinese New Year dinner party. After reminding him over texts, he told me that he was going to Sekinchan, a known fishing village to get his CNY seafood supplies and.. he would share with loot with me. Yeeeaaaayy!
(Sekinchan: Photo from malaysianflavours.com)
It felt like I was performing a Masterchef mystery box challenge because I had a LOT of prawns to work with. My first instinct was to make Prawn Pulao. Because why not.
Just like Queen Bey, I was feeling myself and it didn't feel that it was a monumental task. Why not.
But I've come to realize, things happen whenever I say why not.
Here's how my Pulao became Walao:
I browned my prawns by flash frying them in the pan for a few seconds.
Next, bay leaves go into the sauce pan.
Now, cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon stick to flavour the oil. In my mind, I can imagine how the rice will be so aromatic with these spices.
But sometimes, things won't turn out the way you imagine them to be.. stick with me, I'll share my learnings.
No meal is complete without the Drama.
So, here are two Real Housewives OG - Green Chillies and Dried Chilli Paste.
Sizzle Sizzle, Drama Drama.
Now I add the turmeric, garlic and onion powder.
The sauce tastes delicious at this moment. This is going to be a bomb pulao.
So I put in about 3/4 bowl of rice here. Notice that I am not using basmati rice here, because you know, why not.
Notice that I am not even using Jasmine rice here, again because why not. Let's use my Japanese rice because I feel that it is prudent to use them all up instead of opening a new packet of Jasmine rice. Prudent, but not wise. This is the turning point of my pulao, and I have no idea yet. But soon, I'll experience the full consequence of my decision.
Look at how succulent the sea prawns are. The broth is just a lovely shade of golden.
I still have no idea what I have done to my pulao.
At this moment, I had a clear idea that my pulao was morphing into something else. Have you ever set out to draw something, for instance a car and it ended up looking like a Native American chief in a head dress? No? Well this reminds me a lot of my failed doodling moments.
It's a familiar knot in my stomach, feeling quite horrified at myself. But I just have to soldier on because, the rice is still not tender yet.
Then I remember that this amazing Japanese rice is behaving he way I want it to when I make porridge. So, I added prawn stock little by little to make the rice more creamy.
I turned my Prawn Pulao into Prawn Risotto by using Japanese rice.
It's not the conventional Risotto taste I presume because it's a full bodied briyani/pulao taste and I think Indian food lovers would really love this. I'll definitely make this again with a few changes.
Add wine or in my case I used Mizkan (Japanese rice vinegar) to exaggerate the flavours
Remove cardamom pods boiling the rice because the taste can be overwhelming, and it certainly gives a jolt when one accidentally bites into one
Skip the cloves, it's too overwhelming for a seafood dish. Perhaps more suitable for a beef/lamb or goat dish
Here's my final list of ingredients:
Prawns - Use large prawns, maybe 10-15
Japanese rice (or arborio rice)
Bay Leaf - 1 (use 1 if it's large, or two medium ones)
Cardamom pods - 6 (remove pods before boiling rice in broth)
Cinnamon stick - 1
Green chilies - 1
Chilli paste - 1-2 tsp (depending on your heat tolerance)
Curry leaves - 3-4 leaves (not an essential ingredient)
Prawn stock (I made them from boiling the prawn heads)
Mizkan - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
To my readers who celebrate Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Gong Xi 心想事成 May All Your Wishes Come True.