On Tuesday night I made nasi lemak, the famous Malaysian national dish. I’ve had it before at restaurants and love it but this was the first time I attempted to make it from scratch. I followed the recipe here but I think next time I may just buy a jar of prepared sauce from the Asian supermarket. The recipe’s good but I can’t come by the ingredients very easily and I feel bad for my neighbors because I’m sure they don’t appreciate me cooking prawn paste and stinking up the neighborhood. I think it’s a good stink, personally. It’s one of those things that tastes a hell of a lot better than it smells 😛
I love nasi lemak. It’s a little sweet, a little sour, a little salty, and a lot spicy. Haha.
I tried to plate it up prettily with the traditional accompaniments. There’s a hard-boiled egg sliced in half, some slices of cucumber, toasted peanuts, and a mound of coconut rice with the sambal on top in the center. I folded some of the fried fish into sambal but added some extra fried anchovies on the side because I wanted some more crispy fish goodness. The eggs, peanuts and cucumbers are kind of a necessity because they’re cooling and help cut the spiciness of the sambal.
For tonight’s dinner I decided to make one of my favorite dim sum dishes: pan-fried garlic chives & shrimp dumplings.
Garlic chives are a lot different from regular chives. For one thing the garlic chive is a flat leaf, kind of like a blade of grass, that’s unlike the thin, tube-like leaf of a regular chive. The other thing is that the garlic chive has a distinctive flavor very much like garlic.
Now, I’ve tried making these dumplings before. The filling’s easy enough to master but the dumpling skin is another story. In my opinion, the ideal skin is slightly translucent so you can almost see the filling in the center but it shouldn’t be crystal clear. The skin’s also supposed to have a slightly elasticity. It’s neither too stiff nor too chewy.
As I’ve said I’ve tried making this dish before and after trying several recipes I’ve come to the conclusion that the dumpling dough needs to have some glutinous rice flour. Some recipes only use starches and plain rice flour, and these recipes tend to produce a dough that cracks and doesn’t have enough elasticity when I’m forming/shaping the dumplings.
Another important thing I’ve learned is that the water that you add to the flour/starch mixture must be boiling hot. Warm water simply doesn’t cut it. You really need to get the water to a rolling boil. Adding the boiling water to the flour/starch sort of cooks the dry ingredients and makes a more malleable, stretchier dough.
Since I’ve tried a lot of dumpling dough recipes that have ended up failures, I didn’t want to invest too much effort in aesthetics this time in case this dough didn’t come out good either. I feel like the taste and texture came out really well tonight so next time I’ll try to make everything look prettier and focus on shaping the dumplings into perfect rounds.
So you’ve seen my attempt at shrimp and chive dumplings. And here (photo below) are the dumplings from my favorite dim sum place. As you can see I still have a bit of a way to go before I get mine right.