Mediterranean Baked Fish

Mediterranean Baked Fish

Hello Everyone! Two days ago I shared a post on my Instagram for an open collaboration that me and two of my foodie friends organised and hosted. It was for National Pack Your Lunch Day (March 10) and out of the three main components that made up my lunchbox, one of them was this Mediterranean Baked Fish.

This recipe is loaded with fresh Mediterranean, Greek flavours of olive oil, lemon, and capers. This combination enhances the flavour of the fish, while still allowing it to shine through as the star! Feel free to switch up the kind of fish that’s not only suitable to your liking, but what’s also fresh and available locally. Choose white fish that’s mild in flavour such as cod, haddock, striped bass, mahi-mahi, or grouper fish. I went with tilapia as that’s what’s affordable and readily available here in the Philippines.

Mediterranean Baked Fish

When it comes to baking fish, you don’t want to over cook it. As soon as the fish starts to flake easily, it’s done! For me, it took between 10 to 12 minutes for my fish to turn out perfect, but there are several factors that can differ the cooking time. For example, everyone’s oven cooks differently. Everyone’s fish fillet may be of a different size, shape, or thickness, and everyone’s baking dish heats up differently. Use your gut feeling when it comes to baking time here!

Mediterranean Baked Fish Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-12 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g tilapia fillets (skinless and boneless)
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Lemon slices
  • Zest of 1 lemon

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 218C (425F or gas mark 7) and grease a baking dish with a bit of olive oil or butter.
  2. Place the tilapia fillets in the basking dish and rub all the ingredients into the fish, making sure to coat them all. Arrange the fillets in the baking dish and top with the lemon slices. Set aside for about 15 minutes for the spices to infuse into the fish.
  3. Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  4. Garnish with more freshly chopped basil and serve with a warm salad or seasonal greens. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Baked Fish

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Bengali Doi Maach (Fish in Yoghurt Curry)

Bengali Doi Maach (Fish in Yoghurt Curry)

Hello Everyone! I’m back with another recipe featuring one of Binda Valley’s products, specifically their Natural Greek Style Yoghurt that I received from Gourmet Direct PH last month. I featured smoothies in my previous posts and tonight I wanted to share a savoury recipe using yoghurt. As far as my knowledge goes, I know that yoghurt is commonly used as a marinade for chicken in savoury Indian dishes, but since I wanted to keep in line with only sharing pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan recipes for my blog, I had to do further research for this.

Gourmet Direct PH x Binda Valley Yoghurt

I typed ‘fish and yoghurt’ recipes into Google and a recipe for Bengali Doi Maach, or in English, Fish in Yoghurt Curry caught my attention. It is a deliciously thick, subtly spicy, and delicately sour fish curry. The fish is first marinated, lightly fried, and then simmered in a yoghurt-based gravy. The end result is a very tender and flavourful fish having absorbed the wonderful flavours of the gravy. The yoghurt and minimal spices used makes this dish light yet hearty, and is best served with basmati rice for a complete Indian meal.

Bengali Doi Maach (Fish in Yoghurt Curry)

Not only does it come together quickly, making it a perfect weeknight dish, it is also very cost effective. The ingredients for this dish are quite cheap and easy to find. You can use your choice of freshwater fish (the best would be thick, meaty fish) and get it simmering away with pantry staples. I literally had all the ingredients readily available in my pantry, which made me super excited to tackle this Doi Maach!

Bengali Doi Maach (Fish in Yoghurt Curry) Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the fish

  • 1 kg Spanish mackerel (tanigue, in Tagalog), sliced
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp calamansi juice (or lemon/lime juice)
  • Cooking oil, for searing

For the yoghurt curry

  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 red chillies (fresh or dried)
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 red onions, grated
  • 6 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2-inch ginger, grated
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 & 1/2 cups Binda Valley’s Natural Greek Style Yoghurt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chilli leaves* (optional)

*Normally, this dish would be garnished with some coriander leaves, but if you know me, you know I detest the taste of coriander. So to add a pop of green to this dish, I used chilli leaves instead.

METHOD

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the fish marinade in a large mixing bowl, making sure the fish slices are evenly coated. Cover and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
  2. Heat enough oil in a large pan, over high heat and sear the marinated fish slices; work in batches if needed. Once done, remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Remove any excess oil from the pan, leaving about 2 tablespoons and reduce the heat down to medium. Toast the spices (cloves, chillies, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and cumin seeds) until fragrant, before adding the grated onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook for about 30 to 45 seconds.
  4. Add half of the cup of water to the pan to deglaze it, and then add the yoghurt, stirring until it is incorporated into the water and spices mixture.
  5. Season with salt and sugar, and leave to simmer over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, or until slightly reduced.
  6. Add the fried fish to the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes. In the last cooking minute, add the chilli leaves to the pan and cook until the leaves have just wilted.
  7. Transfer the fish curry to a serving dish and enjoy immediately with freshly steamed rice!

Bengali Doi Maach (Fish in Yoghurt Curry)

Bengali Doi Maach (Fish in Yoghurt Curry)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Goong Ma Kham kab Yum Takrai (Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Spicy Lemongrass Salad)

Goong Ma Kham kab Yum Takrai (Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Spicy Lemongrass Salad)

Hello Everyone! We’re packing our bags and venturing to Thailand on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey! I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in one of my previous posts before when I last shared a Thai recipe; I have and aunt who is Thai and I remember when we all used to live back in Brunei, she would teach me how to make Thai dishes such as Som Tam, Tom Yum, Yum Woon Sen, and many more. I’ve also visited Thailand a couple of times and have been to many Thai restaurants in Brunei and Australia.

The dish that I will be making today isn’t actually something I have tried for myself before. I came across it in a Thai cookbook that I purchased when I was still living in Brunei. It was during a work event, where within it we had something called the ‘Thailand Grand Fair’. If I remember clearly, they hosted a Som Tam making competition and had a guest chef come over as a judge and to promote his very first cookbook.

The name of his cookbook was very familiar to me, and then I realised that it was also the name of a Thai restaurant that I used to go to when I was still studying in Australia. Such a small world when I found out that he is actually the owner of it! I had the chance to talk to him a couple of times and I mentioned that I had been to his restaurant a couple of times – I even brought my mom and my sisters to eat there when they visited for my graduation. He was very humble and thankful when I told him that the food was great.

Goong Ma Kham kab Yum Takrai (Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Spicy Lemongrass Salad)

I was browsing through his cookbook one day for inspiration beyond the Thai recipes that I knew how to cook, which are also published on my blog by the way. A recipe for Spicy Lemongrass Salad (Yum Takrai) stood out to me, so did another recipe for Prawns with Tamarind Sauce (Goong Ma Kham), and thus we have a marriage of Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Lemongrass Salad that’s loosely adapted from Sujet Saenkham’s cookbook titled Spice I Am.

According to Chef Sujet, you want to take the time in slicing the lemongrass as thinly as you can otherwise it won’t be all that pleasant to eat. The fragrant and citrusy flavour of the lemongrass pairs very well with the prawns, or with any other seafood as a matter of fact. The tamarind sauce provides a nice balance of sweet, salty, and sour that is absorbed into the flesh of the crispy prawns when topped with it. Put all three together and you’ve got a match made in heaven of flavours and textures! In Chef Sujet’s cookbook, he mentioned that you can also use fish such as red snapper to pair with the lemongrass salad and/or tamarind sauce. I loved this recipe so much with the prawns so I’m definitely going to try this again with fish!

Goong Ma Kham kab Yum Takrai (Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Spicy Lemongrass Salad) Ingredients

PREP TIME 25 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

For the tamarind sauce

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 dried red chilli, chopped
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup water

For the crispy prawns

  • 6 extra-large tiger prawn, peeled and deveined with tails intact
  • 4 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 4 tbsp rice flour
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the spicy lemongrass salad

  • 3-4 lemongrass stalks (white part only), finely sliced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 bunch Thai basil leaves
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Juice of 1 lime or lemon

METHOD

  1. Tamarind Sauce: Heat the coconut oil in a small pan. Fry dried chillies, red chillies, and garlic together for about 15 to 20 seconds and then add in the onions. Continue to cook for another 15 to 20 seconds.
  2. Add the tamarind paste, followed by the fish sauce, salt, and coconut sugar. Mix and bring to a simmer.
  3. Once simmering, add the water and then bring it back up to a simmer. Remove from the heat and then set aside.
  4. Crispy Prawns: Combine the flours and season in a medium-sized bowl and mix to combine.
    Coat each prawn with the flour mixture and shallow fry for 3 minutes per side, over high heat.
    Once done, remove from the pan and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the excess grease.
  5. Lemongrass Salad: Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and toss to combine.
  6. Transfer the salad to a serving dish and top with the crispy prawns.
  7. If needed, you can reheat the tamarind sauce before spooning it over the prawns. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Goong Ma Kham kab Yum Takrai (Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Spicy Lemongrass Salad)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Singapore Fish Head Curry

Singapore Fish Head Curry

Hello Everyone! It’s been a while since my last post here on the blog; I’ve been super busy with work since I moved to a new department in the beginning of October, and doing some freelance work on top of that. I’ve also been focusing on creating sponsored content for Instagram and participating in a TikTok Challenge this past month. Now that things have slowed down just a little bit, I finally found the time to sit down and write this post/recipe (just hours before this is going live), to share with everyone!

We still have three more countries to venture through on our Flavours of Southeast Asia before the year ends, so the coming weeks will just be quick stopovers – and first, we’re taking a stroll through the many hawker centers in Singapore for their famous Fish Head Curry!

Singapore Fish Head Curry

The dish is actually of South Indian origins, but has been popularised in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore where it was introduced by the Indian migrants when they moved to the region. Thus, this dish is more commonly found at many Indian eateries across Malaysia and Singapore, served typically as a main to steamed rice.

Of course, there’s no problem in using the whole fish, which is what I did, as opposed to just using the head. The main reason why the fish head is much sought after when making a curry is because the meat found at the jaws, below the gills, and at the back of the neck is the sweetest and most delicate. It is also where it absorbs the flavours of the curry best. The important thing is to use fresh fish, whether sea bream, sea bass, snapper, tilapia, or any other white-fleshed fish, and to not overcook it.

I’ve had this dish many times before during my travels to Singapore and have made it a couple of times before when I was still living in Brunei. This is the first time I am making it again at home after a couple of years. The curry is thick, creamy, aromatic, tangy, and spicy; best served with vegetables such as okra and eggplant to soak up all the gravy goodness.

Note that there are some ingredients that I could not source locally for this dish, eg. brown mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, fresh galangal, and fish curry paste. The seeds I just left out, and used crushed galangal from a jar, and red curry paste instead.

Singapore Fish Head Curry Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 kg red snapper fish, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 15 pcs dried curry leaves
  • 3 pcs dried long red chillies
  • 3 tbsp red curry powder (or fish curry powder)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 200 ml coconut milk (or more if you want it creamier)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water (or fish stock)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch (5 pcs) okra, halved
  • 2 eggplants, halves lengthwise and then cut into 3 horizontally
  • Shredded scallion, to garnish

For the curry paste

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 3 pcs red bird’s eye chillies (more if you want it spicier, or vice versa)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (white part only), chopped
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1-inch sized ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1-inch sized turmeric, peeled and chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp crushed galangal paste
  • 1/4 cup water

METHOD

  1. Curry Paste: Pound all the ingredients together for the curry paste, except the water, using a mortar and pestle, until a smooth paste is formed. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes of elbow grease. Mix the water with the paste and then set aside until ready to use. Alternatively, you can place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz them into a smooth paste.
  2. Fish Head Curry: Heat 2 tablespoons of cook oil in a heavy-based pan over high heat. Fry the eggplant slices until browned and tender. Once done, set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat down to medium, and in the same pan toast the cumin seeds, curry leaves, and dried chillies. Cook until fragrant and be careful to not burn them.
  4. Add the curry paste and curry powder, cooking and stirring continuously for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the paste darkens in colour and the oils start to separate.
  5. Add the tamarind paste, coconut sugar, coconut milk, and season with salt. Stir and bring the mixture to a simmer before adding the water and tomato wedges. Bring to a boil.
  6. Once boiling, add the fish head (and fish slices) to the curry mixture. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 – 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. In the last minute or so, add the okra to the curry and cook until tender.
  7. Transfer the fish head curry to a serving dish, top with the fried eggplant, and garnish with some shredded scallions. Serve immediately with steamed rice and enjoy!

Singapore Fish Head Curry

Singapore Fish Head Curry

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Auguest 2021: Jialing Mew

Vietnamese-inspired Tofu Rolls

“Waste not, want not.” — Jialing Mew

Auguest 2021: Jialing Mew

Let me just preface this year’s recipe by saying that my goal was not to recreate an authentic or traditional Vietnamese dish. Despite having grown up in South East Asia, Vietnamese cuisine was not really something I’d experienced much of until I moved to Sydney (slightly ironic, yes, but Australia is truly a melting pot of cuisines and cultures!). And so, not wanting to butcher any of the already perfect Vietnamese favourites I’ve come to love in my twenties, I decided to instead draw inspiration from some Vietnamese-Australian fusion I’d eaten in Melbourne during one of the brief intermissions between lockdowns.

As with every other Auguest, it was definitely a… journey… for me to get to this recipe. The original game plan was to take advantage of popular local seafood, such as barramundi. But fate had other plans. Due to a highly traumatising incident while pet-sitting for tropical fish (who I now see as the vicious, carnivorous killers they truly are!), my stomach forced me to swear off all forms of fish flesh for the foreseeable future.

Vietnamese-inspired Tofu Rolls Ingredients

Also, having been under pretty strict lockdown for almost as long as I can remember, I’ve had fairly limited access to specialty Asian ingredients. Many servings of banh mi and bowls of bun cha later (you know, for research, and supporting local businesses), I came up with another idea – sausage rolls! Such an iconic Australian food, yet every bakery and home cook has their own special recipe. I dreamt up a great chicken sausage roll recipe packed with aromatics and fresh ingredients reminiscent of my experience with Vietnamese-Australian cuisine.

The recipe was right up my alley, and came together with hardly a hiccup. But then last week my brain decided to remind me that Allison’s blog is now actually kind of pescatarian/vegetarian/vegan – which chicken is not.

Vietnamese-inspired Tofu Rolls

And so I resorted to the last-minute brain scramble I thought I’d gotten past, frantically modifying the recipe I’d perfected at the beginning of the month. So much for preparedness, but it kind of worked out in the end, and to be honest I’m not mad at the vegetarian version (#sorrynotsorry to all the vegans, though).

My recipe is still chicken-based, but I’ve also included some modifications to make a pretty tasty tofu filling, so feel free to choose your own adventure with this recipe!

Unless it’s vegan.

Vietnamese-inspired Tofu Rolls Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | MAKES 15 ROLLS

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 sheets puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling

  • 500g firm tofu (or 500g chicken mince)
  • 1 cup (65g) fried scallions
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, ends and outer leaves discarded, pale inner bulb finely minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander, about 1/4 cup finely chopped
  • 2 red bird’s eye chills, minced
  • 2-3 eggs (1 egg if using chicken)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
    3 tsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)

For the dipping sauce

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp sriracha

METHOD

  1. Press a 500g block of firm tofu between several layers of paper towels with a flat heavy object on top to remove excess water. Let it sit for about an hour, then use your hands, a large grater, or knife and cutting board to turn the tofu into small crumbled pieces.
  2. Separate 3 sheets of prepared puff pastry, and set aside to thaw. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180C (170C fan forced, 350F, or gas mark 4).
  3. In a blender, pulse the fried scallions until finely crushed – this will be a super flavourful replacement for the breadcrumbs traditionally used in sausage rolls for keeping the filling from shrinking.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the tofu with the fried scallion crumbs and remaining filling ingredients. Mix well. Add up to 3 eggs until mixture binds and holds.
  5. Working with one sheet at a time, use a sharp knife to carefully cut puff pastry into thirds from top to bottom, then left to right, creating 9 even squares. Each of these squares you’ve cut will be used to individually wrap the tofu rolls.
  6. Take approximately 2 tablespoons of the mixture and shape into a log, placing diagonally across each small square of pastry. Brush the entire surface of the mixture and pastry with the beaten egg. To seal the roll, take the exposed top corner and fold across the top of the mince mixture. Take the opposite bottom corner and gently fold and press on top of the first pastry corner. Repeat with remaining filling and puff pastry sheets and arrange folded pastry rolls onto lined baking sheets.
  7. Brush the tops of the pastry with the remaining egg and place into the oven, baking one sheet at a time for 30 minutes, or until the tops of the pastry are golden brown.
  8. Combine the ketchup with sriracha and mix well to create dipping sauce, and serve with the pastry rolls. Enjoy!

Vietnamese-inspired Tofu Rolls

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2021 | Jialing Mew (@jialingmew)

BON APPÉTIT

– Jialing Mew

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Auguest 2021: Maria Reed

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves)

“Explore food beyond borders. Travel around the world, delve into different cultures, learn from people you cross paths with, and create recipes you’ve never tried before.” — Maria Reed

Auguest 2021: Maria Reed

Hello Everyone! I’m Maria. My love for food can be traced back to my roots. I inherited it from my family. My nanay, inang, mama, and aunts love to cook. Having a big family gives us reasons to celebrate and feast most of the time. I never learned how to cook until I got married and had to find my way around the kitchen on my own. I could still vividly remember when I started; I’d ask my mom for her recipes, watch a lot of videos, and read countless food blogs. I’ve travelled, tried new cuisines, and discovered my passion in recreating dishes I’ve had or never had before. I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone and became a junkie – learning, creating, and tweaking recipes.

I will be taking you on a trip to Indonesia on the Flavours of Southeast Asia journey here on Amcarmen’s Kitchen. The dish that I will be sharing with everyone is called Pepes Ikan. ‘Pepes’ is a cooking method where food (usually fish) is wrapped in banana leaves with its marinade. It is first steamed which gives it an earthy flavour and then grilled or baked for a smoky taste.

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves)

The spices are mashed together to a paste and then added with basil leaves, Indonesian bay leaves, tomatoes, and peppers with fish. All are wrapped in banana leaves and sealed with bamboo sticks at each end. Pepes Ikan is often thought of to be a Sundanese dish; favourite among the Sundanese people in the West Java, but it is also popular in other regions of Indonesia.

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves) Ingredients

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves) Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 2-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large tilapia fish
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 shallots, chopped
  • 1 pc fresh red chilli pepper
  • 10 pcs candlenuts, roasted
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste, toasted
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and cut into 2 inches long
  • 10 pcs kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • Bunch of Thai basil leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 pc lime, sliced
  • 2 knobs fresh turmeric, chopped
  • 1 knob fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Banana leaf
  • Bamboo sticks

METHOD

  1. Pat dry the tilapia fish with a paper towel. Rub with the juice of half a lime and set aside.
  2. Paste: Add the chopped garlic, shallots, turmeric, chillies, and roasted candlenuts into a food processor, and blend into a smooth paste.
  3. Transfer the paste into a bowl, together with the fish, lemongrass, juice of half a lime, shrimp paste, ground cumin, sugar, salt, and bay leaves (if available).
  4. Place everything into a pan over medium high and add about half a cup of water so it won’t burn. Simmer for 15 minutes, flipping the fish halfway and season as needed. Turn the heat off and let it cool before wrapping.
  5. Once the fish has cooled down, lay some banana leaves with the bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, lime slices, tomato wedges, and Thai basil leaves on top. Place the fish on top with the spice marinade, and top with more bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil leaves, and tomatoes.
  6. Seal the banana leaf with bamboo sticks on both ends and brush it with some oil. Place into a pan over medium high and grill, flipping until the banana leaf is wilted, for about 15 minutes or less. This process enhances the taste and aroma of the dish.
  7. Serve and plate with carrots and cucumber on the side. Enjoy!

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves)

Note: To make this dish more authentic, use bilimbi, also known as tree cucumbers and are known for their tart-tangy flesh, instead of lime and dahun salam, Indonesian bay leaves, instead of kaffir lime leaves.

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2021 | Maria Reed (@mariacocinera)

BON APPÉTIT

– Maria Reed

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Assam Pedas Ikan

Assam Pedas Ikan

Hello everyone! A new month means we’ve ventured onwards to our next Southeast Asian destination, and tonight we’re kicking off our journey through Malaysia! Having lived in Brunei for 26 years of my life, and Bruneian food being so heavily influenced by the cuisine of its neighbouring country, Malaysia, it’s no wonder that it’s a cuisine that’s very close to my heart and that I love so much on top of everything else that I seem to love when it comes to food *cheeky grin*

Assam Pedas Ikan

Assam Pedas Ikan, or literally translated as Sour Spicy Fish in English, is a classic Malaysian dish that’s undoubtedly sour, fiery hot, and super satisfying! Special ingredients such as tamarind peel, ginger torch flower, and Vietnamese coriander (laksa leaves) are key in achieving the flavour profile and aroma of Assam Pedas. However, while these ingredients may be difficult to source in certain countries, the sourness is the important component; and you can use tamarind pulp or paste for this. I guess that it’s also safe to say why everyone has their own take on this favourite Malaysian dish; the adaptations are endless! Ultimately, a good balance of sourness, saltiness, sweetness, and spiciness is all you need to make a good Assam Pedas dish.

Tonight, I’ll be sharing the way I remember how my Mom used to make it when we were still living in Brunei. It’s been a while since I’ve had this dish and I was actually surprised by how quick and easy it is to make, as well as how readily available all the ingredients are, for the version that I will be making of course. Instead of using water for my version, I used my own homemade fish broth from fish scraps to give the Assam Pedas more depth in flavour. Traditionally, locals would use ikan tenggiri (Spanish mackerel), or ikan pari (stingray), but my Mom and I prefer to use pomfret fish (pampano in Tagalog) for its delicate white flesh, subtle non-fishy and sweet taste, as well for its firm texture.

Assam Pedas Ikan Pedas

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the spice paste

  • 8-10 pcs dried red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp sambal belacan paste

For the assam pedas ikan

  • 2 large pomfret fish
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Spice Paste
  • 1 tsp fish curry powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 cups fish broth
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
  • Spring onion, white part
  • 10 pcs okra
  • Salt, to taste
  • Spring onion (green part), to garnish

METHOD

  1. Spice Paste: Using a mortar and pestle, pound all the ingredients for the spice paste together, or you may also use a food processor to do so. Set aside.
  2. Assam Pedas Ikan: Heat cooking oil to a large pot over medium-high. Add the spice paste and fry for about 2 minutes or until fragrant before adding the curry powder, coconut sugar, and tamarind paste. Fry for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the fish broth, followed by the tomatoes, red onion, ginger slices, and white parts of the spring onion, and leave to simmer for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened.
  4. Add the pomfret fish and cook for 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Add the okra and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the okra is tender.
  5. Serve immediately while hot and enjoy with freshly steamed white rice!

Assam Pedas Ikan is best served with plain steamed white rice. You may also serve it with noodles, kind of like a laksa, if you’re using boneless fish. Rice noodles would be the go-to choice as they take on the flavour of the Assam Pedas best.

Assam Pedas Ikan

Assam Pedas Ikan

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Laab Paa (Fish Herb Salad)

Laab Paa (Fish Herb Salad)

Hello Everyone! For the later part of June, we’ll be saying goodbye to Indonesia for now and will be venturing off to Laos and since I am not very familiar with Lao dishes, I’ll only be covering two dishes that I’ve had similar experiences with.

The first Lao dish that I will be sharing tonight is known as laab (can also be spelt as larb). Laab is a type of Lao minced meat salad that can be made with either chicken, duck, beef, pork, fish, or mushrooms. It is seasoned with fish sauce, lime juice and padaek, a traditional Lao condiment made from pickled or fermented fish that has been cured. It is thicker and more seasoned than the fish sauce. Chillies, assorted vegetables, and fresh herbs such as mint, are also added to give the salad more flavour.

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Though this is the first time I’m tackling a Lao dish, I am familiar with the process and taste of laab. My Thai aunt taught me how to make the Thai version of this dish using chicken, beef, and pork; this was way back when I was still in university and used to eat meat. Even though this is the ‘unofficial’ national dish of Lao, it is also eaten in a certain region in Northern Thailand where the majority of the population is of the Lao ethnicity. Variants of this dish can also be found in Myanmar (Burma) and in the Yunnan province of China.

I’ll be sharing a pescatarian-friendly version known as Laab Paa, or in English, Fish Herb Salad. It is refreshing because of the fresh mint and fresh ginger slices that cut through the saltiness, sourness, and spiciness of the dish as a whole. While the fish meat is soft and tender, you also get a different texture from the crispy-fried fish skin that is mixed into the salad. The dish is served at room temperature and usually with a serving of sticky rice and raw or fresh vegetables. You can even serve them as lettuce wraps. We served ours with rice noodles instead.

Laab Paa (Fish Herb Salad) Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 5 MINS | SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g minced fish, I used red grouper fish
  • Fish skin
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2-3 red chillies, minced
  • 1 small red onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Handful of blanched bean sprouts
  • Mint leaves
  • Spring onion

METHOD

  1. Add about a tablespoon or 2 of cooking oil in a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high. Add the minced fish and season with salt, to taste. Cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. While the fish is cooking, heat oil in a separate pan and fry the fish skin until browned and crispy. Once fried, break them into smaller sizes. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, toss the cooked fish together with all the remaining ingredients. Adjust the seasoning to your liking, i.e. add more fish sauce for saltiness, or more lemon juice for sourness.
  4. Plate up and top the laab paa with the crispy-fried fish skin. Serve and enjoy!

Laab Paa (Fish Herb Salad)

Laab Paa (Fish Herb Salad)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

Hello Everyone! Tonight’s recipe is actually also a national fish dish in East Timor. As we’ve covered back in March when we travelled through East Timor on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey, the country was invaded and colonised by Indonesia after they gained their independence from Portugal. Therefore a lot of their cuisine is also inspired by Indonesian culture.

I’ve actually never had Ikan Pepes before; I guess the closest I’ve had that’s similar to this dish is Ikan Bakar, which in English literally means ‘burn fish’. The main difference between the two is how the banana leaves are used.

Pepes is an Indonesian cooking method using banana leaves as a food wrapping and secured with a fastener made from the central ribs of a coconut leaf (known as lidi seumat). The banana leaf package containing the food is then steamed or grilled over charcoal. Bakar on the other hand is a charcoal-grilling method where sometimes a sheet of banana leaf placed between the food and grill to prevent it from sticking to the grill and breaking into pieces.

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

Ikan Pepes is made by generously smothering the fish in a spice mixture. The mixture may vary among regions and places, but usually consists of a combination of shallots, garlic, chillies, coriander, tamarind paste, candlenuts, turmeric, galangal, and salt; all pounded together using a mortar and pestle, or blitzed in a food processor to create a paste. The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves to not only protect the fish from excessive charring, but also to add a subtle touch of fragrance to the dish as a whole. The fish is then typically eaten with rice for a complete meal.

You can use any type of fish for this dish as you prefer, such as snapper, perch, bream, or tilapia, and you may also opt to use fish fillets rather than cooking with a whole fish especially for those who don’t like struggling with fish bones. Likewise, while the method of pepes is commonly used to prepare fish, other ingredients such as shrimp, squid, chicken, beef, tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, or other vegetables are also available to be prepared using this method.

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves) Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 red snappers (about 500g each in weight), descaled, gutted, and cleaned
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

For the spice mixture

  • 3 red chillies, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), finely chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized turmeric, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp raw peanuts
  • 7 cherry tomatoes*, halved
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh banana leaves

To garnish

  • Lemon wedges
  • Red chillies, chopped
  • Spring onion (green parts), chopped

*Or use one small tomato and roughly chop. I used cherry tomatoes because I had some lying around that were getting soft.

METHOD

  1. Spice Mixture: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, onion, lemongrass, turmeric, and peanuts together until it forms into a rough paste. Add the tomatoes and continue to pound until they start to break down.
  2. Add in the shrimp paste, coconut sugar, tamarind paste, and season with salt. Use a spoon to mix them all together until well combined.

If using a food processor, add all the ingredients together and blend into a rough paste.

  1. Ikan Pepes: Place the prepared fish, that has been seasoned with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, on top of a piece of banana leaf, on top of a piece of aluminium foil.
  2. Stuff the cavity of the snapper fish with the green parts of the lemongrass and white part of the spring onion. This is optional as I didn’t want to put these parts to waste so I decided to use them in the dish as well.
  3. Generously cover both sides of the fish with the spice mixture and enclose it in the banana leaf, and aluminium foil.
  4. Place the fish over a grill and cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes on one side, and 10 minutes on the other; a total of 25 minutes, or until cooked through depending on the size of your fish or method of cooking.
  5. Once done, remove from the grill and transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with some spring onions, extra chillies, and lemon wedges on the side. Serve immediately while hot with rice. Enjoy!

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Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Prawn Sinigang Orzo

Hello Everyone! Last week was a busy week for Amcarmen’s Kitchen; I uploaded three posts, two of which were recipes and the other was an exclusive interview to celebrate my blog turning seven years old last April 16! If you want to have a read of that interview, I’ve linked it above. Just a fair warning, it’s quite a long article and also contains a 6-minute video where I talked about one of the recent dishes I’ve shared on my blog.

Anyway, tonight I will be sharing a classic Filipino dish that is close to every Filipino’s heart. It’s a dish I grew up with and is always a regular on my meal plans. Even when I was living in Australia for my university studies, this was my go-to winter warmer dinner after a long day on campus and braving the cold, crisp winds on my walk back home.

That dish is none other than Sinigang. It is a Filipino soup or stew that is characterised by its sour and savoury taste. It is most commonly associated with sampalok (tamarind) as its souring agent, but other fruits such as bayabas (guava), kamias (bilimbi), calamansi (Philippine lime), and unripe mango to name a few can also be used to make the broth sour and acidic; similar to but differentiated from paksiw (which uses vinegar).

Prawn Sinigang Orzo

Other than the souring agent, the soup base is also made by stewing onions, tomatoes, ginger (if using seafood), and long green chillies to enhance the taste and add a little spicy kick to the soup base. Pork, beef, fish, and prawns are the main proteins used in the making of sinigang, accompanied by various vegetables such as, but not limited to, okra, taro, white radish, water spinach, yardlong beans, and eggplant.

Of course, I’m not just going to share another sinigang recipe as I already have two posts on my blog for it: Pork Spare Ribs Sinigang and Sinigang na Bangús. I’m putting a little twist to this sinigang dish by turning it into a risotto! Though this isn’t something particularly new, inventive, nor innovative on my side since the two words Sinigang and Risotto together already coexist – I just can’t remember where I had seen or heard the term before – I knew that this was a recipe that I wanted to try out for myself. I’m one to always drown my rice with the sinigang soup, and I’m sure most do the same too! So why not, instead of cooking the rice separately, cook it in the broth?

Just to make things a little different, I used risoni/orzo pasta instead of arborio rice. I tossed it in a pan with unsalted butter to toast before cooking it in the sinigang soup base to give it a nutty taste and a golden colour.

Prawn Sinigang Orzo Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 50-55 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

For the prawn sinigang broth

  • 500g medium to large-sized prawns
  • 100g prawn heads* (optional)
  • 8 cups (approx. 2L) water
  • 2 packets (2 x 11g) sinigang sa sampalok original mix
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 long green chillies, halved
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, quartered
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, peeled and sliced

For the orzo

  • 300g risoni or orzo pasta
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • Sinigang broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the toppings

  • 1 bunch water spinach, leaves separated from the stems, and stems cut into short lengths
  • 1 medium-sized daikon (white radish), peeled and sliced
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, pan-fried
  • Long green chilli, sliced and pan-fried

*I always have prawn heads and peels lying around in my freezer from a previous batch of prawns that I bought. The reason is so that I can make soup bases like this or use them for flavouring other dishes. If you don’t have any prawn heads readily available, you may substitute with a prawn (or seafood) bouillon cube.

METHOD

  1. Prawn Sinigang Broth: Fill a large stockpot with the water along with the red onion, tomatoes, chillies, ginger, and prawn heads. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and leave to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. After 10-15 minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low and remove the prawn heads with about half a cup of the broth. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the prawn heads together with the broth to extract the flavours from them. Strain and then return the extraction to the stockpot.
  3. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and add the sinigang sa sampalok mix. Give it a good stir and then season the broth with fish sauce. Add according to your taste buds; I added about 3 tablespoons in total.
  4. Next, add the sliced daikon and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes. Then add in the prawns and cook for a further 5 to 8 minutes. Once done, remove the prawns and daikon from the stockpot and set them aside.
  5. Add the water spinach stalks to the broth and cook until slightly tender, about a minute. Then add in the leaves and blanch for about 30 seconds. Remove from the broth and then set aside.
  6. Strain the sinigang broth and set aside as well.
  7. Prawn Sinigang Orzo: Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add in the uncooked orzo pasta and toast until slightly golden brown in colour, about 5 to 7 minutes in total.
  8. Once toasted, lower the heat down to medium and then add about 4 cups of the broth to the pan. Season with freshly ground pepper, to taste.

I didn’t add any more salt since I already seasoned the broth with fish sauce, but feel free to do so according to your taste.

  1. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, constantly checking and stirring to ensure that the liquid doesn’t evaporate too quickly and to prevent the orzo sticking to the bottom of the pan. Make sure to reserve at least a cup of the sinigang broth for later.
  2. Add more liquid if needed until the pasta is thoroughly al dente and the liquid is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes in total. Once done, remove from the heat.
  3. Reheat the prawns and vegetables in the reserved broth before plating up.
  4. Plate up accordingly and serve immediately while hot! Enjoy!

Prawn Sinigang Orzo

Prawn Sinigang Orzo

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com