(Nasi lemak with sambal ikan bilis) with roast fish (Intrepid)
Blog Words : Food & Drink | 05 March

4 Malaysian recipes

Rustle up something extra tasty for dinner with these four great recipes from Malaysia

Nasi lemak with sambal ikan bilis

Serves 6

1 lemongrass stick
500g jasmine rice, washed and drained
250ml coconut milk
1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
1 x 3cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped

Bruise the lemongrass stick with a rolling pin or mallet until pliable, then tie into a knot. Place the rice, coconut milk, turmeric, salt, shallot, lime leaves, lemongrass and ginger in a large, deep pan and pour in enough cold water to cover by 3cm. Bring to the boil, then cover and cook for 4 minutes, before turning the heat down to a simmer and cooking for a further 6 minutes. Leave to rest, covered, for another 10 minutes. Discard the lime leaves, lemongrass, and ginger before serving with sambal and the selection listed below.

Sambal Ikan bilis (dried anchovy-chilli sauce)

150g red chillies, finely chopped, including seeds
4 garlic cloves
4 shallots
1 tsp dried shrimp paste
2 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
50g dried anchovies
100ml vegetable oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
 3 tsp tamarind pulp, mixed with water to make a paste

In a mortar and pestle or a food processor, grind the chillies, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste and sugar until you have a paste.

In a wok or frying pan, fry the anchovies in the oil until dark and crisp. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain. Discard most of the oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons.

Fry the ground paste quickly in the oil, stirring, for two minutes. Add the onion and cook for another two minutes.

Add the tamarind paste and a little salt; taste and adjust the sugar and salt: it should clearly salty, sweet, hot and sour, as well as spicy. Return the anchovies and cook until the sambal is thick dark brown.

Serve with:

Cold roast fish
Peeled and sliced cucumber
Hard-boiled eggs, halved
Roasted or fried peanuts
Deep-fried banana
Fried Ikan Bilis/Anchovies

Clam laksa

Serves 4

4 red chillies, finely chopped
60g galangal, peeled and finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 lemongrass sticks, outer layer removed
1 tbsp black shrimp paste
1 ½ tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp red chilli powder
100ml vegetable oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
200ml coconut milk, diluted with 100ml water
800g clams, cleaned
Rice noodles, to serve
Coriander leaves, to serve
Fish sauce, to serve

Place the chillies, galangal, onion and lemongrass in a pestle and mortar or a food processor and grind to a paste before stirring in the shrimp paste and spices.

Heat the oil in a large deep pan and add the shallots and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until soft, then stir in the shrimp paste. Turn the heat down to low and cook the paste, stirring constantly until it begins to smell fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Keep an eye on it at this stage as you don’t want to overcook it.

Turn the heat up high, then stir in the clams so that they are completely covered in paste. Pour in the diluted coconut milk and cover tightly with a lid. Leave to cook for 3 minutes until the clams have all opened.

Place your cooked noodles into warmed bowls and spoon over the laksa. Tear over the coriander and season with a little fish sauce.

Fish head curry

You can always use fish fillets if you prefer!

Serves 4

Vegetable oil
2 red onions, sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 big handfuls of fresh curry leaves
2 tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp fenugreek, ground
½ tsp turmeric
3 whole dried red chillies
A pinch of chilli powder
3 tbsp tamarind pulp, mixed with 250ml warm water
4 fish heads, cleaned in cold water
2 handfuls of small okra
Palm or brown sugar, to season
Juice of 2 limes
2 tomatoes, chopped
Jasmine rice, to serve

Heat a generous amount splash of oil to a large pan and fry the onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat up and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop, add the curry leaves, followed by the spices. Cook for a further 3 minutes until fragrant.

Strain the tamarind into the pan, discarding the solids. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until slightly thickened.

Turn the heat up to high, then add the fish heads to the pan along with the okra and a little water. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the fish is almost cooked. Season with a little sugar, salt and lime juice until you have the perfect sweet and sour balance, then stir in the tomato and serve with rice.

Sri Lankan cashew nut curry

Serves 6

200g butter
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 large handfuls curry leaves
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp turmeric
4 whole dried chillies
500g cashew nuts, soaked for 2 hours in cold water
400ml coconut milk
Soy sauce, to taste

In a large, deep pan, melt the butter and fry the onions with a pinch of salt until browned and sweet. Add the curry leaves and spices  and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.

Drain the cashews and stir into the curry. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Pour over the coconut milk and enough cold water to just cover. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook slowly for 1 hour until the cashews are completely soft. Season with soy sauce and a little salt.#


Stevie Parle is a widely-travelled food writer, TV presenter and head chef at London restaurant, Dock Kitchen. He is endorsing Intrepid Travel's new Real Food Adventures in Malaysia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.