Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dry Chilli Sambal Recipe

We all love pan mee at home. Specifically the chilli powder that comes along with the pan mee dish. It's always been a wonder for me how they make the dry chilli sambal that is crunchy and so flavourful. Little did I know that instead of just the glorified chilli in the name, dried shrimps play a huge role in making it.

Lately I also began to see online sellers marketing the dry sambal, advertising how it is perfect to be eaten with virtually anything, even plain rice. Now this is when I started making connections with the pan mee chilli, and yes, that is the one.  Without realising I have turned into this aunty who can make anything at home, and was determined to make this at home from scratch.

I asked Mr Google for some recipes, and I found out it is actually a Nyonya delicacy 'hae bee hiam'. I felt somewhat proud to be able to attempt this. After comparing a few recipes, I came to the conclusion that this is indeed the usual chilli paste that we make for sambal, with added dried shrimps to the kick. All it needs is some good seasoning and cooked from its liquid form till it dries into fine particles of its original ingredients. Sounds like a lot of hard work. Surprisingly, it is not. And on top of that, you get a very wonderful treat the end of it. I must warn you though, it is so delicious, you can eat it on its own, but the spoonfuls!

I decided to make this dry chilli sambal inspired from my own sambal paste, that is with turmeric and lemongrass.

Here's what you need:
A handful of dried chilli, soaked
3 fresh red chilli
6-8 shallots
3 cloves of garlic
a handful of dried shrimp, soaked
3cm fresh turmeric
1 stalk of lemongrass
some oil
2 tbsp brown sugar

What you need to do:
1) The soaked ingredients works best with warm/hot water. 

2) Once you have soaked the dried shrimps and chilli for 15 minutes, you can strain the water, and move all ingredients (except salt/sugar/oil) into the blender, add some water and blend it fine. 

3) Pour the blended paste onto a hot pan and start cooking. Add the sugar and salt at this point.

4) Keep stirring as it cooks. I did take random breaks in between from stirring, especially if there is still some liquid form, it takes a while to evaporate. But once it has dried up, you can't take break from stirring, otherwise it might burn right there and then. Also frequent stirring ensure it is evenly cooked.

5) Halfway there, you can add the oil. I like to add this point because it helps in browning the paste into nice crunchy powder.

6) And yes, keep stirring, till you get this. And you are done!

Once it has coolest down, you can transfer it to your desired container, or just start eating right away!

I must confess, halfway as I was stirring it, I did think to myself 'ok, so this is not working out' because I did not see it drying up as quick as I thought it would, but patience really pays off handsomely. At the end of it you will tell yourself, it was so easy I'd do it again and again!

The very next day I got plan pan mee into work, and this is how we had our chilli sambal, with spinach noodles, minced meat, and homemade kimchi soup!

As I bit into the noodles with the minced meat, the crunchy bits of chilli sambal reminded me, yes I did it! Something tells me this is going to be a must-have condiment in the house! Happy trying!

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