Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk (Santan)

  • Stir before using, because in storage it tends to settle and clump.
  • This is unsweetened

Screwpine Leaves (Daun Pandan)

Daun Pandan

  • Can be found in the frozen section of the Asian grocery store
  • Don't have to thaw before using

  • Just pluck one or a few blades off and wash

  • Sometimes it's used to flavor a dish with its 'green' aroma, and to do so, it's usually knotted and tossed in the cooking dish
  • Other times, a few blades may be made into Pandan juice by blending them with water to produce a light green 'juice' that might be used to make sweet desserts

Agar Agar

Agar Agar
  • Agar agar is a form of seaweed
  • Boiled and cooked, then cooled, it turns into wobbly jelly

  • Water is brought to boil and sweetened.
  • Agar Agar is dumped in.
  • The heat will cook and melt the coarse strands
  • It can, from this point on, be flavored and colored
  • Poured into a container, and left to cool, it will harden into jelly

Palm Sugar (Gula Melaka/Gula Jawa)

Palm sugar has a different taste and texture from granulated sugar.

Palm Sugar

  • It can be found at the Asian grocery store, most probably in the Indonesian section
  • To use, it can be shaved or cut into chunks with a sharp knife
  • It should be somewhat soft, not hard like a rock

Homemade Chilli Paste

In Malaysia, this chilli paste is commonly known as cili boh, sold as ready made pastes. Overseas, Malaysians/Indonesians have resorted to purchasing the ready made Indonesian Sambal Oelek, which I once used in my undergraduate years, or making their own homemade chilli pastes. I personally prefer to make a homemade one in order to avoid the preservatives present in the ready-made ones sold in the stores.

Homemade Chilli Paste

  • A ready-made version sold in Asian grocery stores is Sambal Oelek (yes, with that exact spelling)
  • 1. Pick off the stems.
  • 2. Soak the dried chillies in very hot water, keeping them submerged by putting a bowl or small plate on top, for half an hour or till softened and rehydrated
  • 3. Blend with enough water to make a wet paste.
  • 4. Add salt (about 1 teaspoon per cup of chilli paste).
  • The addition of salt I gleaned from my mother in law.
  • I usually make a mixture of Chilli Japones (small and hotter) and Chilli California (bigger and less hot), with a ratio of 1:3, Chilli California being 1/3 and Chilli Japones being 2/3, so I would not end up with a chilli paste that is too spicy, especially when making Sambal. Sometimes, I would use Chilli Ancho (way bigger and sweeter, even less hot) to tone down the spice level.
  • If you don't use them too often, either make a small batch, or keep them in the freezer, because they will get moldy if left to sit in the refrigerator too long.

Chilli California

Chile California

  • The bigger and less pungent chilli
  • Usage is described here.

Mexican Chilli Japones

Chile Japones

  • The smaller thus more pungent chilli
  • If you only use these chillies to make your own homemade chilli paste, it's going to be very spicy!
  • I use this in combination with bigger, sweeter, and less spicy dried chillies.
  • Usage described here.
  • You can find these dried chillies most probably in the International section of grocery stores like Kroger or Meijer (for those in the United States).

Yeo's Sweet Chilli Sauce

Yeo's Sweet Chilli Sauce
  • Usually used in making Sweet Sour Dishes
  • This chilli sauce is also used as dips for savory deep fried fritters.
  • There are many other chilli sauces (not the western hot sauce!). This is just one brand and type. They all have their own taste combo, so feel free to experiment with different chilli sauces.