Mmm, I'm dribbling just thinking about this Indonesian / Malaysian delight. I made tons of the spice paste and we've had it twice this week without any complaints at the repetition. Whoever gave this dish to the world was a culinary genius and great pie philanthropist. Sadly, as that hero's name is lost to history, I will instead thank Rick Stein for his version of it, which forms the basis of this dinner.
It does take a little while to do all the chopping for the paste, and shallots always make me cry, so it's well worth making up a big batch and either freezing it for long term storage or popping it in the fridge and using it up over a month.
Heaped teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 nutmeg (grated)
Handful of peanuts
1 tsp sesame seeds
60g chopped shallots
25g chopped fresh ginger
40g chopped fresh galangal
1 tsp turmeric
3 lemongrass stalks, chopped up finely
20g chopped garlic
2 ordinary red chillies
2 really hot chillies (like birds eye, I used dried)
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 tbsp palm sugar
Juice of half a lime
1 tsp salt and 3 tbsp oil
I ended up having to add a tiny little bit of water just to get the mini-processor going, but it smoothed up perfectly after that. This is enough paste for 8 portions so, if you're cooking for two then use 1/4 of the paste, for four then 1/2 and so on.
The amounts below feed two people.
Get a cup of rice on to cook, it doesn't really matter what kind you use. I used brown jasmine rice and it worked well.
Blanch a large handful of green beans by boiling them for a few minutes until cooked but still pretty firm, then holding them under cold water until cool. Also hard-boil a couple of eggs, to use as a topping later on.
Prepare a carrot cut into batons, a few sliced shallots, some garlic cloves and a couple of chillies. You'll also need a pack of prawns and/or a couple of peices of chicken, cut up into bitesized peices (thigh, breast, leg... it doesn't matter). Leftovers from a roast is fine too.
Get a spash of oil on to heat up and, if the prawns and/or chicken are raw, cook them through and put to one side. Add the carrots, shallots, garlic and chillies to the pan and cook for a few minutes before adding 1/4 of the spice paste. Cook for a couple more minutes then add the green beans, a big squeeze of tomato puree, a tbsp palm sugar and 2 tbsp soy sauce.
Lastly add the rice, prawns and/or chicken and make sure everything is well coated with the spicy mixture before adding a good handful of sliced spring onion. Serve up in bowls, topped with chopped egg, sliced cucumber and crushed peanuts.