I hadn't even heard of Nyonya cuisine until my last few trips to Malaysia. Mum was on the hunt for cookbooks, and I remember looking out for them when wondering into book shops.
I never thought I would be able to cook any Nyonya recipes, but after seeing a tempting curry on a recent episode of Poh's Kitchen, Hamsley and I were both dying to try this particular curry.
I didn't add all 20 chillies as listed, as I didn't know how spicy Hamsley could handle; as Nyonya food is usually quite on the spicy side.
It seemed easy enough on the show, but the recipe on the website failed to include tumeric in the ingredients list. It did list tamarind pieces, but failed to say when to add them. So I got the end of my cooking then released I didn't add them in.
I ended up shelling the prawns as I knew Hamsley wouldn't really be a fan of getting his hand all icky whilst eating, but left a few shelled for presentation. I found the prawns that stayed shelled to not be as spicy as their un-shelled companions.
Unfortunately our "blender" didn't grind my spice mix as fine as I would have liked, but it did a good enough job. I'll be picking up a Sunbeam foodprocessor/blender sooner rather than later after that experience.
The smells coming from the kitchen as I fried the spice mix were amazing! I was immediately transported back to Malaysia. The taste was also fantastic. The spiciness of the chilli, mixed with the sweetness of the pineapple; which helped to bite through the spiciness; then all brought together with coconut cream. So lucious!
Can't wait to cook this for my family when they come down from the motherland!
To learn more about Nyona: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peranakan
Spicy Prawn Curry with Pineapple
Chef Florence Tan
1kg big prawns - cleaned
500g pineapple - cut into 6mm triangle shapes
175ml Carotino oil (or organic palm oil; I used vegetable oil)
2 dried tamarind pieces
5 Kaffir lime leaves
350ml thick coconut milk
Pounded or blended Ingredients
20 dried chillies - soaked well
3 garlic (big)
5 candlenuts (or macadamia nuts)
3cm fresh galanga
2 ½ tsp belachan (shrimp paste granules)
1 ¼ tbs salt
3 ½ tbs sugar
1 tbs anchovy granules (available from your Asian grocer)
1. Heat oil and fry pounded ingredients until fragrant. (About 10 minutes or until the oil starts to separate)
2. Add pineapple. Cook for a few minutes then add the sugar. Continue cooking for five minutes. Stirring occasionally.
3. Pour in water and bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add Kaffir lime leaves and tamarind pieces.
4. Increase heat, then add the prawns and seasoning.
5. Bring to boil. Pour in the thick coconut milk. Leave it to boil for a few minutes, then serve with white rice.