It’s been said so often, it’s become a tired old cliché. But I’ll say it again…we in South East Asia are spoilt for choice when it comes to food.
For this, we have history largely to thank, for ensuring a continuous stream of different foreign influences into our culture – and hence, food – for hundreds upon hundreds of years. These influences were uniquely diverse, as they came from neighboring countries as well as far beyond.
Before the coming of the Europeans, the dominant power of this region was the Indonesian empire of Srivijaya, whose territory included modern-day Malaysia and Singapore. This was followed by a period of European colonization in the 17th to 20th centuries, which introduced Portuguese, Dutch, British, Spanish and other influences to South East Asia.
Western colonization brought trade opportunities and development to our region, and with it, floods of immigrants from all over the world. Europeans from the colonizing countries, as well as Chinese, Indian, and Arab immigrants, brought their habits and ways of life, and cuisines, to their new homes. This resulted in tremendous change and experimentation – especially in food. Old cooking traditions met new ingredients and techniques; new climates imposed new limitations or opened new possibilities; and different cuisines encountered and inspired one another…
Over generations, the various cuisines as we know them today gradually emerged, and are still evolving. Growing up greedy and adventurous in Singapore, I’ve eaten my fair share of British colonial-era dishes. And I must admit I have a soft spot for this nostalgic class of food, especially the classic British meat loaf and the Eurasian meat curry known as Devil’s Curry. To be precise, Devil’s Curry is a Cristang dish, Cristang being a traditional hybrid of Portuguese, Eurasian, and Malay cuisines.
This time around, I’ve decided to be bold and combine these two favorite dishes of mine. I present the Devil’s Meat Loaf!
Devil’s Meat Loaf
Ground beef 500 g
Spam 200 g
Bread crumb ½ cup
Eggs 2, boiled for 7 minutes and peeled
Ketchup 4 tbsp
Chilli sauce 1 tbsp
White vinegar ¼ tsp
Honey ½ tsp
Oil 2 tbsp
Onion 1, chopped
Garlic 2 cloves, chopped
Tumeric powder ½ tsp
Chilli powder ¼ tsp
Mustard ½ tsp
Belachan ¼ tsp
Black pepper ¼ tsp, ground
Fresh chilli 2, finely minced
Water ¼ cup
Salt 1 tsp
- Preheat oven at 175 degrees C.
- Mix beef, spam, and bread crumbs thoroughly. Add seasoning, eggs, and season with salt.
- Pour ½ portion of the mixture into a greased meat loaf pan. Lay hard-boiled eggs across the pan. Cover the eggs with the rest of the meat mixture.
- Spoon sauce on top of the meat mixture and spread it evenly.
- Bake for 90 minutes.
1. Saute onion and garlic under low heat until the onion turns soft. Add the rest of the spices and continue to fry for another 5 minutes. Add water and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season it with salt.
1. Mix all ingredients and whisk it thoroughly under low heat. Set aside and cool.