Put Your Punching Skills to Better Use with Udang Masak Lemak Cili Api
I grew up with a predominantly Chinese palate and I don't remember being particularly adventurous with food. In fact, I would rather starve because all I wanted was the Beef Burger from McDonald's. Sigh. I feel so sorry for my parents.
Over the years, I have developed a deep fondness for Indian cuisine and of late, a predilection for Malay cuisine.
I was inspired and felt SO moved to cook the Udang Masak Lemak Cili Api when I saw live turmeric peeking out among other fresh produce in the supermarket today. Never mind I've never tried this dish before. I Googled the recipe while hovering the near the herbs section and quickly picked out all the necessary ingredients.
I was planning to cook this dish with my frozen prawns but caught sight of these beautiful shelled sea prawns at the Seafood counter.
As I was deciding between getting the Large or Extra Large prawns, the gentleman manning the counter asked what I had planned to do with them. I told him,
Me: "Well, I'm planning to make Udang Masak Lemak...
Counter Guy: (He looked up from the prawns, his eyes gleaming with anticipation)
Me: with Cili Api
Counter Guy: Wow..Sedap ni..Oooo (I can see him mentally salivating, perhaps a memory of Mum's or Granny's signature dish)
Ahhh, a sign that this may be a successful kitchen experiment☝🏼
I created a marinade of Japanese soy sauce (with infused rice wine), paprika, turmeric, white pepper and light dusting of corn starch so the paste adheres to the prawns.
Then I lightly fry it to brown the prawn shells and set aside.
So if you have any pent up frustrations, this is the perfect opportunity to set them free.
In here I have shallots, garlic, live turmeric and of course, bird eye chillies.
Lightly punch and grind these ingredients until they form a paste.
Put some oil and tumis the paste.
I also added a bit of cili boh and fish sauce to increase pungency.
I think one should never skip the serai lemongrass.
I damn near forgot to throw it in, it would have been a disaster.
After 15-20 minutes, I added sugar and salt to the paste.
Once I felt that it was properly caramelized, I added the coconut milk and cooked for another 10 minutes.
When I felt that the curry became less coconut-ty, I addded tofu and prawns.
The magic happens here.
Where the prawns and curry impart their flavours to each other and are fused to form the signature taste of this dish.
Serves 2 pax
Prawns - 8 pcs
Tofu (optional) - 2 blocks
Lemongrass - 1 stalk
Paprika - 1-2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Japanese soy sauce (with infused rice wine) - 1 tsp
White pepper - 2 shakes
Corn starch - Light dusting
To grind into paste:
Bird eye chillies - 8-10 depending on tolerance
Garlic cloves - 3-4
Shallots - 5
Live Turmeric - 1-2 (I like my curry stronger so I adjusted with more turmeric powder when I taste tested the cooking paste)
Cili boh (optional) - 1 tsp (some recipes call for belacan)
Fish sauce (optional) - 1/2 tsp (some recipes call for tamarind slices but I think fish sauce has a hint of sourness so I used this instead
Coconut milk - 1 bowl
I serve this dish with red rice, broccolini and sunny side egg.
Happy Monday, have a great week ahead!