Malaysian Dried Shrimp in Chile Paste Sauce with Yard Long Beans!
Malaysia has an interesting mixture of food from many cultures mixed with traditional local cuisine. Hindi, Islamic, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Western, European, Spanish and Japanese influences are part of modern Malaysian cuisine. Malaysia is like Singapore in the way that both places have become fusion food capitols of the world. Immigrants to Malaysia all brought their own cuisines with them and many immigrant food items have become Malaysian favorite entrees.
Old traditional Malaysian food is quite different than the modern fusion food flavors. Traditional Malaysian food is quite tropical. Fruits grow year round and seafood is plentiful. Tropical pacific root vegetables, native exotic vegetables and herbs are all part of traditional Malaysian cuisine. Ever since the Colombian Exchange, chile peppers have entered the tropical cuisine of every region in the sun belt. Rice and grain have alway been a trade commerce item in asia, so noodle and rice dishes are part of the traditional cuisine. Tropical banana leaf style cooking and serving food on banana leaves is a common part of old Malaysian cuisine.
One of the biggest influences in modern Malaysian is Indian cuisine. Masala spice mixes of all kinds are now part of the island cuisine. Roti style Indian breads are very popular in modern Malaysia.
Ever since chile peppers were introduced from the western world, sambal has become a South Pacific island tradition. There are over 100 varieties of sambal chile paste in the Pacific island region. Sambal is an important part of Malaysian cuisine. Malaysian sambals are usually made with mortar and pestle. There are specific names for Malaysian sambals that are made with kaffir lime, dried shrimp and other local flavors. There are specific names for raw or cooked sambal. A basic plain sambal is a mild red chile paste.
Belacan can refer to shrimp paste or dried shrimp in Malaysia. I chose to use tiny dried shrimp for this Malaysian long bean recipe, because I had them on hand. The dried shrimp combine with a plain red sambal to create a very nice flavor!
Long beans are very popular in tropical asia and India. Long beans are in the cowpea family and they grow from climbing vines. Long beans are great for food shortages, because they grow very quickly and they are loaded with nutrients. Long beans have a nice flavor that is a little bit different than a standard green bean.
The choice of rice is an option in modern Malaysian food. Jasmine rice is traditional. Basmati has become popular in Malaysia, because of the Islamic and Indian immigration. I actually wanted to serve today's blog entree with jasmine rice, but I mistakenly chose basmati, because I did not have my glasses on. Oh well! For once, a mistake turned out to be okay thanks to the Indian and Islamic fusion of modern Malaysian cuisine.
Malaysian Sambal Belacan and Long Beans Recipe:
Cook 1 cup of white rice ahead of time and keep it warm. Either jasmine rice or basmati rice is fine for accompanying this recipe.
Boil 3 tablespoons of tiny dried shrimp with 2 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat. (Do not remove the tiny thin shrimp shells. The shells are soft and edible.)
Boil the dried shrimp for 5 minutes, so they reconstitute and create a rich tasting broth.
Add 2 cups of long beans that are cut into 2" to 3" long pieces.
Add sea salt and white pepper.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground galangal.
Cover the pot with a lid.
Boil the long beans, till they start to become tender. (This only take 3 to 5 minutes. Do not add water, allow the broth to reduce. There should be about 1 1/4 cups of liquid left in the pot, after the long beans and dried shrimp are cooked.)
Remove the pot from the heat.
Heat a saute pan or wok over medium heat.
Add 1 small splash of vegetable oil.
Add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves.
Add 1 tiny handful of bite size onion strips.
Saute till the onions start to become tender.
Add 1/2 of a thin sliced small red Thai chile pepper. (optional)
Add 4 tablespoons of plain red serrano chile pepper coarse sambal or your favorite plain mild red pepper sambal. (Be careful not to chose a sambal that is salty. Some sambal have more salt than others!)
Add 1 tablespoon of Korean red serrano chile pepper sauce.
Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper. (crushed dried red chile caribe)
Add 2 teaspoons of thin soy sauce.
Add the long beans, dried shrimp and broth from the other pot.
Toss the ingredients together
Simmer and reduce the liquid, till only a small amount of thin sauce remains in the pan and till the sambal sauce can easily coat the long beans.
Use a mold to place the rice on the plate.
Place the Malaysian sambal long beans around the rice on the plate.
Pour any remaining sauce over the long beans.
Garnish the plate with lime slices and a cilantro sprig.
I have said this many times, sometimes a great flavor combination comes from only a few choice ingredients. That is the case with this Malaysian Sambal Belacan and Long Beans entree! The rich umami flavor of dried shrimp and dried shrimp broth with galangal (Thai blue ginger) tames the mildly spicy red serrano chile pepper sambal in a nice way. Yum! ... Shawna