Annie is always critical of the rendang that is served at Malaysian restaurants here in the South Bay. She says they’re just not done right, and reasons that only Malay cooks (as opposed to the Chinese cooks working in these restaurants) know how to make rendang. Here is her version:
Annie wanted to make some rendang chicken and I said, you can’t have just rendang chicken without the coconut rice and dhal! So instead of a single, easy dish, I coerced her into preparing this Malaysian feast.
Start a pot of lentils (1/2 cup) going. Season with 1 tsp turmeric powder, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp ginger, garlic and shallot paste. Toss some mustard seed, fennel seed, cumin seed, a stick of cinnamon and 2 chile peppers in oil and fry until fragrant. Add in half a red onion, sliced and a tbsp of curry powder.
Most of the Malaysian/Singaporean restaurants here in the Bay Area are not quite authentic because their chefs use local ingredients and adjust their recipes to suit local tastes. Here in San Jose, we’re lucky to have a branch of the Singapore-based restaurant chain Prima Taste. Prima Taste ships all their sauces pre-made from Singapore, and so preserve the flavors.
We’re also lucky that an Asian grocery near our place carries the Prima Taste brand of sauce and seasoning packets, for a pretty good price. This is their Singapore Curry Laksa.
You have to buy all the fresh ingredients – the noodles, bean sprouts, fish cake, shrimp, and egg. But to make the soup you just add the contents of the spice packet to water and bring to a boil, then assemble all the ingredients. In no time, you’ll have a delicious bowl of fragrant laksa.
Annie was feeling like some homemade (as in Malaysia) char kway teow. “Kway teow” is a steamed , flat rice noodle. “Char” is to fry.
For the ingredients, we have bacon fat, bean sprouts, prawns, chopped garlic, lup cheong (Chinese sausage), the kway teow, and preserved vegetables.