One of the reasons how Countless Plates came to being was because there aren’t many sources for traditional Malay recipes online. I’m an avid foodblog reader and though it’s easy to google French and Italian fare, it just doesn’t make any sense to perpetually feed my family (with sambal belacan & petai palate) lasagnes, aglio olios, pizzas, stews and raviolis right?
Well, here’s a dish that I guess everyone with the same traditional taste can relate to: Nasi Rawon.
Each time I prepare this dish at home, I always see beaming faces eager to dig in. Yes, albeit at 5am. Why?
Steaming hot white rice – check!
Warm Rawon gravy – check!
Empeng Bilis – check!
Serunding – check!
Sambal Belacan – check!
Nasi Rawon has every element to appease almost every Melayu palate lol. It looks pretty straightforward but oh boy, the preparation is lengthy. But if it makes my family happy, it’s gotta be worth it!
Let’s begin with the basic Rawon gravy. This recipe makes a huge pot, and might I add, the flavours get more intense after about 2-3 days of reheating. So it’d be a great idea to save half the pot in the freezer for later.
1/2kg Beef Tripe
1/2kg Beef Brisket
2 litres Water
2 inch Ginger
1 large Onion
2 tsp Salt
3 tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 1/2 tbsp Fennel Seeds
1 tbsp Black Peppercorns
2 Red onions
1 handful Buah Keluak meat
6 tbsp dried Chilli Paste
2 stalks Lemongrass
3 inch Galangal
4 Salam Leaves
4 Kaffir Lime Leaves
1 or 2 Dried Tamarind Sheets
In a huge pot, boil all the ingredients for the broth, till the meats are tender.
As for the sautéed spices, the procedure is similar to Ayam Korma’ – Toast and grind the coriander, fennel and black pepper seeds. Shallots, onions, buah keluak and dried chilli paste goes into the blender to form a smooth paste. You can toss your ground spices in as well.
Heat oil in a flat pan and pour the paste in. Be extra careful – it might splatter (most of the time it does). This process will take between 30-45 minutes. I’m risking sounding like a broken record but repeat after me, ensure that you see the oil seeping through the spices (naik bau/terbit minyak). Pound the lemongrass and galangal, loosely tear salam, kaffir lime leaves and tamarind sheets; they too, join the spicefest in the pan.
Keep the heat on. The aroma will intensify and most of the time, it makes me go a little weak in the knees! Pour all of your pan’s contents into the pot of broth. Stir and let it simmer for under an hour, and then you’re good to go!
Serve this Indonesian beef stew with some hot white rice.
Personally, I like my rice soaked in all that glorious goodness for a couple of minutes before lapping it up with all the sides that were mentioned in the checklist above. It goes well too, with a range of other sinful sides; from Fried Tempeh (fermented soy beans), Bagedil (mashed potatoes with spring onions and beef), Paru (beef lung) to Sambal Sotong (cured squid in chilli paste).
And just cos Ramadhan is partly about sharing, I’ll be a little generous with the recipe-sharing. I’m sure you’ve noticed the Empeng Bilis at the side?
Here are the few ingredients that go into it:
4 chopped Garlic Cloves
2 thinly-sliced Large Onions
2 tbsp chopped Spring Onions
1 tbsp Dried Chilli Flakes
2 sliced Green Chillies
1 beaten Egg
3/4 cup Fritter Flour**
*Silverfish are available in the supermarket’s fresh clingwrapped section. You know the refrigerated sections where the salmon are? Silverfish are slightly meatier than the usual anchovy and less salty too.
** I use Adabi’s Tepung Goreng Pisang for this but any kind of fritter flour is fine. Shortcut alert: If you don’t have it, use the same amount of plain flour and rice flour with 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Add just enough water so the mixture combines. Too much moisture will cause the fritters to be a little flat and it’ll splatter in the oil. Heat your pan with oil, and fry a tablespoon of batter each. Ensure your oil’s hot enough or the Empeng Bilis will end up soggy. Not pretty!
I made Nasi Rawon for Sahur as my family’s the kind that can’t get our engines revved up the next day without rice in our tummies. But I do have friends who do the opposite (have their rice meals during Iftar), so whatever rocks your boat really. Enjoy, lovelies! =)