Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sambal Udang Kering – Simple but Back Breaking!

I loved this dish as a kid but I didn’t get to eat it often. In fact, I don’t even eat it often nowadays. What put me off from eating and cooking it? I don’t really have an answer.
Photo by Mark Ong

Suffice to say, Sambal Udang Kering or Hae Bee Hiam has always been one of those dishes in my “out of sight, out of mind” list. Still, it is a well-loved dish that appears, in some form, in the cuisine of the Malays, Peranakans, and Chinese. Each ethnicity -- even each household -- had its own version.

The ingredients are simple; what is needed in buckets is patience and tolerance of heat, because you need to stir-fry the rempah for at least an hour! For those in the mood to indulge, you can even drop in a few lard crisps before eating. Best of all, Sambal Udang Kering tastes delicious even when it is eaten simply, like sprinkled over a bowl of rice or on buttered bread.

This is how I cook my version of it …

Hae Bee Hiam or Sambal Udang Kering

Peanut oil                    ½ cup
Sugar                           3 tbsp
Shallots                       300 g, chopped
Red chillies                  300 g, chopped
Dried shrimps             200 g, minced
Garlic                           500 g, finely chopped
Salted fish                    25 g, deep-fried and crushed (optional)
Pork crisps                  25 g (optional)
Salt                              1 tsp

Rempah (ground into paste)
Dried chillies               25 g, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and drained
Belachan                      25 g, toasted
Lemongrass                2 stalks, white part only and bashed
Candlenut                    50 g

Hae bee hiam is so versatile that it makes a
great condiment for pan-fried radish cake.
1.    Heat oil in medium heat. Sweat sugar, shallots, chillies and rempah for 20 minutes.
2.    Add dried shrimps and garlic. Continue to sauté the mixture for another 8 minutes.
3.    Add salted fish and pork crisps (optional). Season with salt.
4.    Continue to fry until mixture is dried out.
5.    Let it cool and store in a bottle.

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