Nasi Katok with Buttermilk Salmon

Nasi Katok with Buttermilk Salmon

Hello Everyone! We’re pushing on with more Bruneian favourites, and this month wouldn’t be complete without tackling the famous Nasi Katok, which in English literally means ‘knock rice’. It is a simple combination of white rice, sambal (a condiment made out of blended chillies and other spices), and a piece of fried chicken, traditionally served wrapped in a piece of waxed brown paper. A variety of secondary ingredients including but not limited to shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, palm sugar, lime juice, vinegar, and anchovies can also be served together with the fried chicken.

Nasi Katok is as quintessentially a Bruneian version of fast food, with many vendors running around the clock 24 hours a day selling this classic favourite. The roots of the term originated from the act of katok (knocking), on the window of this small flat in the country’s capital, to buy nasi (rice); the unofficial first Nasi Katok establishment since the 1980s. Naturally, the name stuck and today the dish is among the best national dishes.

Nasi Katok is one of Brunei’s most affordable staples that is priced at only BND$1.00. That’s right, one dollar for a piece of fried chicken, sambal, and steamed white rice. Over the decades the Nasi Katok has evolved into many versions – my favourite being the fusion of chicken and buttermilk.

Nasi Katok with Buttermilk Salmon

Bruneians love their buttermilk chicken, so when word got out that there was a place in Brunei that combines two of the country’s most loved foods, it caused a sensation! As of the majority of the dishes found in Brunei, the origins of buttermilk chicken is actually a Malaysian dish known as Lai Yao Kei 奶油鸡, or Malaysian Butter Chicken. It is about a million miles away from what most of us imagine when we think of Butter Chicken (and I’m talking about the Indian variety).

Other than chicken being the main source of protein for the dish, other meat varieties such as pork, fish, and prawns can be found too. I decided to keep mine pescatarian friendly for this recipe and so I used salmon belly for this dish. The buttermilk sauce is infused with the aroma of fresh curry leaves, and spiked with the heat from fresh chillies. It is actually very simple to make and comes together in just minutes. Though you’d think the butter would be the star of the show here, it is actually the evaporated milk that steals the limelight!

Nasi Katok with Buttermilk Salmon Ingredients



For the salmon

  • 6 pcs salmon belly strip, scaled and cleaned
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 pcs calamansi, juiced
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • All-purpose flour

For the buttermilk sauce

  • 1 can (300ml) evaporated milk
  • 1 bunch (8-10 pcs) curry leaves
  • 2 pcs red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp white granulated sugar
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the sambal

  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 small red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 medium-sized brown onion, quartered
  • 1 long green chilli, chopped
  • 1/2 + 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp blended red chillies
  • 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cooking oil


  1. Salmon Belly: Add all the ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and mix well. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Lightly coat the salmon belly strips in flour and shallow fry until golden brown and crispy. Fry in batches if needed and once done, set aside. You can fry the salmon bellies just before serving so that they are hot and remain crispy.
  3. Sambal: Add the onions, garlic, green chilli, and half a cup of water into a food processor or blender. Blend until the ingredients are finely chopped.
  4. Add about 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Add the onion mixture and cook until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the blended red chillies and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt, add the sugar, and the remaining half cup of water. Give it a good mix and continue to cook until thickened. Once done, set aside.
  6. Buttermilk Sauce: Melt the butter to a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the red chillies together with the curry leaves and cook to infuse the flavours and aromas into the butter. Set aside a few curry leaves and chillies for decoration later.
  7. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the evaporated milk. Add the sugar and season with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust to your liking. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes altogether.

At this point, you can either add the fried salmon bellies to the sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes before serving, or top the bellies with the sauce. It’s completely up to you.

  1. Serve with rice and vegetables of choice, together with sambal. Enjoy!

Nasi Katok with Buttermilk Salmon

Nasi Katok with Buttermilk Salmon

Before I end tonight’s post, there’s something I want to share with everyone. So about two weeks ago I came across a post on Instagram regarding the price of Nasi Katok – should it be increased from BND$1.00 to BND$1.50? From a survey of almost 2000 people, 58% said that it should stay at BND$1.00. Small business owners usually sell Nasi Katok just to get through the day; it was never about profit for some. In fact, vendors would only make a profit of 20 cents per serving of Nasi Katok sold. In my honest opinion, if it’s just for a 50 cents price increase to help small businesses, I wouldn’t mind paying extra especially if I’m getting more in return. Think about it, you’re getting a serving of rice, a decent-sized piece of chicken and a spicy relish to bring it altogether. I think we can spare a little more out of our pockets to help them out.


– Ally xx

Ambuyat (Sticky Sago)

Ambuyat (Sticky Sago)

Hello Everyone and cheers to 2021! Wishing you and your families a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year! May the upcoming year be a time for healing, recovery, and reconnection.

For the loyal followers of Amcarmen’s Kitchen, you’ll know that a new year means a new theme on the blog. And so to kick off 2021, we’ll be sharing dishes inspired by the Flavours of Southeast Asian Cuisine! If you have an Instagram account, make sure you’re following me over on @amcarmenskitchen as I will be launching a challenge related to the theme to get everyone’s creative juices flowing for the upcoming year ahead.

We’re opening the new year with a Southeast Asian country very close to my heart; a country that I was born in and raised for 26 years of my life before moving back to my motherland a few years ago. A country none other than the Abode of Peace, Negara Brunei Darussalam.

Negara Brunei Darussalam - Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Brunei is a country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coastline with the South China Sea, the country is completely surrounded by the insular Malaysian state of Sarawak. It is separated into two parts by the Sarawak district of Limbang. Brunei is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo; the remainder of the island’s territory is divided between the nations of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Bruneian cuisine is similar to, and heavily influenced by the cuisine of neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Additional influences from other countries such as India, China, Thailand, and Japan are also evident. As common in the region, staple dishes from Brunei are often spicy, and are eaten with either rice or noodles. Due to the predominance of the Islamic religion, the food is halal and pork is avoided. Alcohol is also banned in Brunei.

Because of the heavy influence of other cultures in Bruneian cuisine, it’s genuinely difficult to find dishes that are purely of Bruneian origin. Nevertheless, the recipe that I will be sharing today is known as the national dish of Brunei.

Ambuyat (Sticky Sago)

Ambuyat is a type of starch derived from the trunk of a sago palm and cooked as a delicacy in the country of Brunei. It is consumed with a two-pronged bamboo utensil known as chandas. Ambuyat is eaten with a variety of side dishes such as grilled prawns, fish, and an assortment of tropical sauces and vegetables. As the sago starch may be difficult to find outside of Brunei, it can be substituted with potato, tapioca, or cassava starch.

Before we dive into the recipe, there’s one more thing that I need to touch on. A popular tropical sauce dip that is always paired with Ambuyat is known as tempoyak, or in English, fermented durian. Now, if fresh durian is said to smell like putrid flesh, overripe armpits, and fermented gym socks, can you imagine what it smells like fermented? All I can say was that my kitchen was rancid. Imagine the smell of fermented durian, shrimp paste, and dried shrimp altogether…

Negara Brunei Darussalam - Fresh Durian

Nevertheless, it’s actually quite tasty for those with an acquired taste for durian. I’m probably 50-50 on this, and honestly leaning more towards the hate in this love-hate relationship. I never liked durian in the first place, but for the purpose of experimenting and experiencing the flavours of Brunei, I did it for the blog!

Fermented Durian Sauce (Tempoyak)

The flavour of tempoyak varies a lot and can be mildly sweet and sour or extremely pungent and a bit rank. You can alter the flavour by allowing the durian to ferment for different lengths of time and adding different amounts of salt. Less salt makes the tempoyak more sour, while more salt both makes the tempoyak more, well, salty, and allows it to keep for 3-6 months without being refrigerated.

Ambuyat (Sticky Sago) & Tempoyak Ingredients



For the ambuyat

  • 3 cups cassava starch*
  • 2 & 1/2 cups water

For the tempoyak sauce

  • 50g fermented durian (tempoyak)**
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • Pinch of salt

*Preferably use sago starch if available, otherwise substitute with potato or tapioca starch.

**How you make your tempoyak is up to you. The most basic ratio to get you started is for every cup of fresh deseeded and mashed durian, add 1 tablespoon of salt. Mix well and seal in an air-tight container and keep at room temperature. It can be consumed after 2 days, or allowed to ferment for as long as 2 weeks, depending on your preference.


  1. Tempoyak Sauce: Add the dried shrimp to a mortar together with the red chilli and pound using the pestle until well combined. Add the shrimp paste and mix using a spoon. Season with a touch of salt, to taste.
  2. Pour a little bit of hot water into the mixture and then add the durian. Mix until well combined and adjust the flavours to your liking. Once done, transfer to a small bowl and set aside until ready to serve.
  3. Ambuyat: Combine the tapioca starch with a half cup of room temperature water, in a medium-sized heat-proof bowl, and set aside for a few minutes.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 cups of water, either in a kettle or on the stove. Slowly pour the hot, boiling water into the bowl with the starch while whisking continuously with a wooden spoon. The starch will appear sticky in texture. Continue to whisk the ambuyat until it is firm and starchy.
  5. Serve with the tempoyak sauce and various side dishes and enjoy!

Ambuyat (Sticky Sago)

The side dishes that we paired our ambuyat with are fish curry, fried fish, garlic butter prawns, sautéed kangkung (water spinach) in garlic and oyster sauce, sambal eggplant, and fresh vegetables. We decided to keep ours pescatarian, but you can serve it with other choices of meat as well, whatever tickles your fancy.

Ambuyat (Sticky Sago) Side Dishes

Note: Prepare all your sauces and side dishes before preparing the ambuyat.


– Ally xx