You may have noticed that I hardly well more like never posted any seafood recipes (aside from fish) and it’s only because I used to have a severe allergy towards shellfish. Ahhh I can already hear the sympathetic comments ‘ Aww you miss out on the best dishes ever; butter prawns, sweet & sour crabs, fried calamari’ or ‘tsk tsk you don’t know what you’re missing girl’ . Actually I’ve been having this since young and I tried a few dishes mostly by accidents so I think I can live by and not have seafood for the rest of my life unless I get super ‘wai sek’ (gluttonous in Cantonese) and decided to risk my life by having a bite or two. It used to be quite bad that I can’t even have the dishes even when seafood’s not the main ingredient, like stir-fried vegetables with prawns. I’ll get severe allergy reaction from just eating the vegetables. Only recent years I’m able to have belacan without breaking in hives or suffocating. Yeap it’s that serious! So enough of my allergy and more on this wonderful signature dish of Malaysia.
My granma used to tell me this is a poor man dish because these vegetables it doesn’t grow on lands but in water usually found at swamps back in the olden days. And in order to cover the bitter taste of the vegetables the wives would stir fry with belacan and chilli paste. And belacan as you may know it’s made from preserving small shrimps with salt and then later dried under the sun for days. Fishermen created this acquired tasting ingredient because back in the days the fishmonger would usually not buy the small shrimps from the fishermen’s catch so in order not to throw them away, they decided to preserve the shrimps and eventually the women has found many delicious ways in using this. My granma used to make her own belacan when they were still staying in a kampung, I used to wrinkle my nose to the horrid smell (I told you it’s an acquired taste!) only to slowly discover this wonderful piece of fermented shrimps when I started learning how to cook.
800grams kangkung (about 2 bunches)
about a cup of dried shrimp
1 onion, sliced
4-5 tablespoons of chilli paste
Oil for frying
salt and sugar to taste
1. Wash the kangkung and cut into 5cm lengths.
2. Soak the shrimps and pound coarsely or mince using a knife.
3. Heat up the wok and stir fry the shrimps without oil until it’s lightly toasted. Dish and set aside.
4. Using the same wok, heat the oil, saute the onions and add in the chilli paste. Stir fry for a few minutes before adding in the toasted shrimps and fry until fragrant.
5. Add in the kangkung, cover the wok with a lid for 1-2 minutes (the kangkung will wilt slightly) and mix well.
6. Season with salt and sugar. Careful with the salt though because the dried shrimps are quite salty.
You can substitute the kangkung with other types of vegetables like okras, brinjals, yam bean leaves, long beans.