You know you’re a true blue Malaysian when you go all out and try to replicate the food from home, notwithstanding the dire lack of ingredients. Unlike the lucky Malaysians in London and US, it is much, MUCHHHH harder to get Asian food and ingredients in Italy. I turn green whenever I read blogs like RasaMalaysia , in her case, a Malaysian living in US. Whenever she feels a craving for food such as Mee Goreng (Fried Yellow Noodles) or Loh Bak or Assam Laksa, all she needs to do is go to the Asian Store, presumably in China Town, and she can get her yellow noodles, tofu, daun kesum (polygonum leaves), lemongrass etc.
Poor ol’ me does not have a China Town to go to I cannot get tofu, lemongrass, yellow noodles, belacan, curry powder etc here. The nearest relatively well-stocked Asian store is in Bologna, about 45 minutes away by car, and even then, they do not have most of the things I need/crave for.
So what does a girl like me do?
When I flew back from Malaysia in May, I bought and packed two BIG packs of dried chili to be made into chili boh for sambal tumis. I absolutely love my sambal. My suitcase was 30% clothes and 70% food.
And the past few days were spent deseeding, soaking, blending, packing the chili. I packed them into little freezer bags so that I can easily defrost each bag (small quantity) as and when I need it.
About 200grams dried chili, deseeded before soaking for about an hour
4 garlic cloves
1 big onion
2-3 tbsp oil
Tamarind, the size of a small ping-pong ball, soaked in half a cup of water and macerated with fingers
Salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste
Belacan, to taste
1. Blend the chili, shallots, garlic and onion. Add a tiny bit of water just to get the blender going. Not too much!
2. Heat oil in wok or pan. When hot, add in the blended paste.
3. On small fire, fry till fragrant and chili paste turns a dark red. This usually takes quite a long time.
4. When you see that the oil has separated from the paste, add in the belacan. (I use belacan powder. If you use belacan paste, dry roast it on a pan for 2-3 minutes first before using). Stir to integrate.
5. Add in tamarind water without the pulp. Continue frying to get the desired consistency. I like mine thick, so I usually stir a little longer. Be careful not to burn the base.
6. Add salt and sugar to taste.
I usually make Sambal Udang with this sambal tumis recipe, and I add in the prawns right at the end and cook for another 3-4 minutes till prawns are cooked.
Chili boh is basically the blended ingredients before it’s cooked. Once cooked, it becomes sambal tumis.
My mum who makes the best sambal udang in the world usually cooks the sambal tumis for agesss on the stove, sometimes about 2 hours, depending on quantity, till it turns a beautiful dark red.
This recipe works well for me; one who has been spoilt by my mum’ sambal. It’s THAT good. It will be ages till I learn to tweak things here and there and get the sambal to be EXACTLY how my mum makes it.