Category Archives: Cooking with Local Ingredients

Huge Prawns Fresh From The Fishing Boat!

We were anchored in Thailand off a lovely island called Koh Phayam, just below the Myanmar (Burma) border. It was high season in Thailand at the time but even then, Koh Phayam was a quiet, idyllic place. Nowhere was too busy. There are no cars on Koh Phayam, just motorbikes, bicycles and the odd tractor.

We spent our days watching the brahminy kites and white belly sea eagles soaring overhead in search for their dinner, and we would catch sight of the hornbill birds as they flew amongst the trees on the nearby shoreline.  From the advantageous location of our comfy hammocks we watched the bait fish jumping out of the water as the predators close in on them. How peaceful… could it get any better than this?… Seafood lunch perhaps?

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On one of these “peaceful idyllic” days Dwayne visited a local fishing boat that had dropped its anchor nearby. He returned with a large bag of school prawns and some baby squid. The fishermen wouldn’t accept any money, so Dwayne took some beers over to them. They must have been impressed with the beers as they then presented him with two good sized cuttlefish, some crabs and a pile of huge prawns!

Dwayne cooked the crabs and prawns in salt water. We then chilled them before we devoured them, for lunch, with a little homemade seafood sauce.

For the seafood sauce… I simply mixed Kewpie mayonnaise with tomato ketchup. I didn’t measure the ingredients, I just did it to taste. It’s simple but delicious and the prawns were sooooo fresh!

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Pork Stuff Squid Tubes

This is easily one of our favourite squid dishes. I have cooked them a couple of times during our sailing through SE Asia. The first time was in Indonesia when we bought some fresh squid from a local fisherman. The second time was recently in Thailand at a BBQ we put on at PSS Shipyard in Satun.

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Pork stuffed squid served with rice cakes and a simple salad.

Ingredients

25g Rice vermicelli noodles
3 spring onions
3 tablespoon of peanut oil
2 garlic, finely chopped
3cm ginger, peeled and grated
½ cup cabbage, finely shredded
325g pork mince
¼ teaspoon ground star anise
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
Several medium squid or 16 baby squid, cleaned and tentacles reserved

Dipping sauce

1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small chilli, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
4 tablespoons fish sauce
Freshly squeezed juice from ½ a lime

Method

To make dipping sauce, mix all ingredients well until sugar has dissolved. Taste and add more lime if needed. Transfer to a dipping bowl.

For the stuffing, pour boiling water over the noodles and allow to stand for 5 minutes until soft. Drain well, chop them into smaller pieces and place in a large bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a fry pan and gently cook the garlic, ginger and spring onion until soft. Remove from heat and add to the bowl. Chop the squid tentacles and add to the bowl along with the pork, cabbage, star anise and fish sauce. Mix well.

Cooking Spicy Stuffed Squid
Cooking the stuffed squid

Stuff the squid tubes with the stuffing. Make sure to leave a little room at the top and close the top of the tube with a toothpick.

Heat the remaining oil in a fry pan and cook the tube for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.

Pork Stuffed Squid
Slice the squid into rings with a sharp knife.

Slice the squid and serve with the dipping sauce.

Pork Stuffed Squid
Pork Stuffed Squid

At the PSS Shipyard, while painting and varnishing our boat for six weeks, we cooked a goat BBQ. For entree I served my stuffed squid. Dwayne built a four layer BBQ to cook all the food for the 23 people that were to join in on the feast. I used two different types of squid, which I bought from the local fish market down the road. In my opinion the squid are not as yummy when grilled on the BBQ, but everyone still enjoyed them. If you were to cook them on a BBQ use a hot plate instead of a grill.

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Dwayne’s four layer cooking contraption – squid cooked over the coals and there are potatoes cooking under the coals.

Nasi Lemak

Nasi lemak is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf commonly found in Malaysia, where it is considered the national dish. This traditional Malaysian favourite offers sambal, ikan bilis (anchovies), peanuts and boiled egg. Nasi Lemak stalls can be found serving them with fried egg, chicken/beef rendang, sambal kerang (cockles) – a local favourite, sambal squid, sambal fish, squid fritters or even fried chicken or fish. It can be consumed for breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner and even supper. [Wikipedia]

My nasi leak with sambal, ikan bills and a Chinese tea egg.
My nasi leak with sambal, ikan bills and a Chinese tea egg.

To make this traditional Malaysian nasi lemak this is what I did…..

For the steamed coconut rice

Ingredients
1 cup of rice
1 cup of coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 inch of ginger, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped

Note: nasi lemak coconut rice is usually cooked with pandan leaves or screwpine leaves tied in knots. I didn’t have any so did not use them. If you do have them use two in the above recipe.

Instructions
Rinse the rice twice and drain. Put in a saucepan with the coconut milk, water, ginger, garlic and onion (and pandanus leaves), cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and leave covered until serving.

For the sambal ikan bilis (Anchovy Sambal)

Ingredients
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
1 clove garlic
4 shallots
10 dried chillies (deseeded)
1 teaspoon of belacan (prawn paste)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar

Instructions
Rinse the dried anchovies and drain the water. Fry the anchovies until they turn light brown and put aside. Pound the prawn paste together with shallots, garlic, and dried chilies with a mortar and pestle. You can also grind them with a food processor.
Slice the red onion into rings.
Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind constantly to extract the flavor into the water. Drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the spice paste until fragrant.
Add in the onion rings.
Add in the ikan bilis and stir well.
Add tamarind juice, salt, and sugar to taste.
Simmer on low heat until the gravy thickens. Set aside.

Note: Original recipe uses 1 cup ikan bilis. I only used 1/2 cup of ikan bilis because I like to serve it with lots of crispy fried ikan bilis on the side.

Sambal recipe from – http://rasamalaysia.com/nasi-lemak-recipe/2

with egg, dried fish, coconut rice, cucumber and tomato and the nasi lemak sauce

To serve

slices of cucumber
roasted peanuts
deep fried crispy ikan bilis
grape tomatoes halved
hard boiled egg, halved

Note: I used a Chinese tea egg that I had made earlier hence the dark colour of egg in the photo. Click here for the Chinese tea egg recipe.

Note:  l found the Belacan easily in Malaysia. I’m not sure how one would go in Australia or other western country. Try the Asian grocers. I think other shrimp paste would work fine in the recipe.

Cap Kancil
Belacan fish paste

Beef Rendang

One of our favourites, which we ate in abundance while cruising through Indonesia, is the beef rendang. Rendang is a spicy meat dish which originated from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia. [wikipedia] This dry style of curry is sometimes called caramelised beef curry because of the ‘reduction’ style of cooking.

Beef Rendang with coconut milk, chilli and kaffir lime leaves

Prior to refrigeration technology, this style of cooking enabled preservation of large amounts of meat. When the Minangkabau farmers killed a cow for a special occasion it was often turned into Rendang. Rendang provided a way to make the beef last for weeks in Indonesia’s hot tropical climate. For rendang the meat is cooked for hours with coconut milk and a paste of mixed ground spices, which includes ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, shallot and chilli. This paste has antimicrobial properties and serves as natural organic preservatives. 

For my rendang you will need the following ingredients….

2 small brown onions, chopped
8 asian shallots, chopped
10 cloves of garlic, chopped
2cm piece turmeric, chopped
1 tsp salt
15 dried long red chillies, soaked in boiling water until soft, drained
1 tsp ground coriander
2-3 tablespoons oil
1kg beef, cubed
5cm piece of galangal,
grated 2 sticks of lemongrass, (soft white only), finely chopped
2 sticks lemongrass (white only), smashed with the flat side of a knife
8 lime leaves
500ml coconut milk

Cooking rendang is a simple but lengthy process. My instructions are as follows…

Place the onions, shallots, garlic, turmeric, salt, chillies and coriander into a blender (or mortal & pestle) and process until smooth. Set aside the spice paste.

Grinding the spice mix for the Beef Rendang

Heat the oil in a pan and brown the beef in batches. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the galangal, lemongrass and lime leaves to the pan and fry for a minute in oil, remove and add to the beef.

On medium-low heat fry the spice paste for a few minutes, then add the beef and the galangal, lemon grass and lime leaves and the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 – 4 hours.

It is ready once the curry sauce has reduced and the oil is separating from the rest of the curry. Serve with steamed rice and enjoy the taste of Indonesia. This rendang is delicious ‘if I do say so myself’!

Beef Rendang - the oil separating from the curry.
Beef Rendang – the oil separating from the curry.

 

Dwayne’s Chilli Seafood

While cruising Indonesia we were lucky enough to visit a tiny fishing village on the island of Panebangan. The people were exceptionally friendly and welcomed us with huge smiles and a large bunch of bananas! It was at this village, the following morning, that we were invited onto a fishing boat for breakfast. Dwayne watched how the fisherman made chilli fish and it has since become Dwayne’s signature dish! This is great for when I don’t feel like cooking…. i.e. “I’d really love your chilli fish for dinner tonight Dwayne!”

Dwayne has made this a couple of times for dinner. Once he used fish and squid and the other time he used crayfish.

It’s simple and tasty. This is how he does it…

  • fresh chillies, chopped
  • fresh garlic, chopped
  • asian shallots, chopped
  • salt

Dwayne preparing his chilli fish

Blend all the above ingredients with the mortar and pestle.

Blending up the chilli and other ingredients

Add oil to a pan and heat.
Add the spice mix, fry until fragrant.
Add the seafood (fish or what ever you want) and fry it for a while.
Then add some water and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasional.
Season with salt as needed.

Serve with steamed rice.

Fish and squid with chilli sauce

Crayfish and roe in Dwayne's chilli sauce

For the full story of Panebangan check out Karamata and Surrounding Islands

Dwayne with his chilli crayfish

Guess what we are having for dinner tonight!

Stuffed Squid in a Rich Tomato Sauce

As we sailed amongst the islands off the west coast of Borneo, we were able to purchase fish and squid from the fisherman that visit us, when we drop anchor for the night. The squid, used for this recipe, we bought off a fisherman at Pulau Bawal and the fish I use to stuff the squid was a mackerel we traded a mobile phone and a pair of sunnies for, when anchored off Pulau Genting.

Stuffed Squid in a Rich Tomato Sauce
Stuffed Squid in Rich Tomato Sauce

It had been two weeks since we had been able to get fresh fruit and veg and  I used my last fresh tomato for this recipe. At the time we had been eating rice with almost every meal. Every time I cook rice I will cook a cup of rice and I then use the left over to make rice cakes or I heat it up with curry sauce etc. This time I used it to stuff my squid.

OK so this is what I did…

I made a stuffing for the squid with:

  • about 1/2 cup of left over cooked rice
  • a small fillet of mackerel (finely chopped) about 100g
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped,
  • 5 small asian shallots, finely chopped
  • about 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix it altogether and stuff it into the squid tubes. Close each tube with a toothpick. Cook the squid tubes for 5 mins to brown them slightly and then removed them from the pan

Stuffed Squid in a Rich Tomato Sauce
The prepared stuffed squid tubes

For the sauce…

I heated oil in the fry pan and fried:

  • 1/2 head of garlic (about 6 cloves), chopped
  • 3 small hot chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped
  • 8 small asian shallots, chopped
  • about 80g anchovy fillets
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, chopped
Shallots, garlic, chilli and lots of anchovy!
Shallots, garlic, chilli and lots of anchovy!

I fried this until it was cooked and the garlic and shallots had softened. I then added:

  • 1 can of tomatoes, diced
  • 3 Tbs tomato paste
  • dried italian herbs and black pepper to taste.

I brought it to the boil and then simmered the sauce for about 15 minutes, after which I added the stuffed squid tubes. I then simmered it until the flavours had developed into a rich, spicy, flavoursome sauce and the squid were cooked through (adding water as necessary). I served the squid with rice.

Stuffed Squid in a Rich Tomato Sauce
Stuffed Squid in a Rich Tomato Sauce

The left overs

I used the left over sauce the next day with some mackerel fillets. I cooked the mackerel then added the sauce to the pan with the fish and simmered until heated through. I served it with pasta. Yum!

Nasi Campur

Nasi Campur refers to a dish with a scoop of nasi putih (white rice) accompanied by small portions of a number of other dishes, which includes meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs etc. Nasi campur is a ubiquitous dish around Indonesia and as diverse as the archipelago itself. There is no exact rule, recipe or definition of what makes a nasi campur, since Indonesians and Southeast Asians commonly consume steamed rice surrounded with side dishes consisting of vegetables and meat. [Wikipedia]

Nasi Campur - rice, tempe, octopus skewer, tomato, cucumber and sambal
Nasi Campur – rice, tempe, octopus skewer, tomato, cucumber and sambal
Nasi Campur - rice, crispy pork, tempe, kangkung (water spinach) and chilli sambal
Nasi Campur – rice, crispy pork, tempe, kangkung (water spinach) and chilli sambal

When in Indonesia we eat like the Indonesians! This has as much to do with the food/ingredients that are available to us as with our love of Indonesian food. We eat rice most days and I usually make a sambal to go with it. Chilli, garlic, shallots keep well on the boat so they feature in most of our meals during our cruising.

This is what I did for the octopus skewer, tempe, kangkung and sambal…..

Skewered Octopus with Lime and Basil

Marinated octopus in olive oil, lime juice, garlic and chopped basil leaves. Refrigerated for about an hour then skewered the octopus on small skewers. Dwayne grilled them on the BBQ and I served them with Nasi Campur.

Octopus Skewers
Octopus Skewer with Lime and Basil

Tempe Goreng

Tempe – fermented soybeans. I sliced some prepared tempe into bite size pieces and fried them in hot oil until brown and crispy. I removed them from the oil and mix in a little kecap manis.

Tempe from the supermarket
Tempe from the supermarket
Tempe with kecap manis (sweet soy)
Tempe with kecap manis (sweet soy)

Kangkung

I probably do the kangkung differently every time I cook it, but generally speaking I fry up quite a bit of garlic (usually garlic slices ), shallot, a bit of chilli in a little oil, and season with salt and pepper. I then add the washed, roughly chopped kangkung and sauté for a minute.

kangkung.
I added a chopped fresh tomato to this kangkung.

Sambal

I usually make a raw sambal by smashing up chillies with garlic and a small shallot, in my mortar with pestle. However, my favourite is sambal matah, and if I have lemongrass on board I’ll make it. Sambal matah is a lemongrass and shallot sambal. It will often have shrimp paste in it but I usually make mine without the paste… I just love the taste of fresh lemongrass.

In the mortar I smash up lemongrass, shallot, a little chilli, some thin slices of kaffir lime leaves, salt and oil. It is delicious.

Sambal Indonesia, chilli, shallot, lemongrass
Sambal Matah

Bon appétit

Sambal ingredients