Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sambal Goreng Kering--Crispy Potato Sambal

When most Americans hear the word sambal, they immediately think of a chile sauce such as sambal ulek or sambal bajak.  In Indonesia there are several hundred varieties of sambal, and many of them are not sauces at all.  Instead, they are dishes which complement the "main" dish and rice.  A plate of nasi rames, for example, might contain rice, a piece of chicken, and several sambals, some with coconut milk, others dry like this one.  The result is a meal that is a balance of flavors and textures--sweet and savory, saucy and crispy. 

This particular sambal is very similar to tempeh kering.  The final steps are the same, the only difference is the ingredients.  While tempe is almost as cheap as potatoes in Indonesia, unless you make your own tempe in the US, you'll find this version is much cheaper with potatoes than with tempe.  You could also make this with kettle style potato chips; I'd suggest using the unsalted variety.  If you don't like your food looking back at you, you can eliminate the ikan teri (anchovies).  They provide an interesting crunch and flavor, but your sambal will be no less authentic without them.

Wandering Chopsticks, whose blog was one of the first to make me aware of food blogs and inspired me to start this blog, recently posted about enjoying this sambal at a food court in Southern California. In her post she mentioned she wanted to learn how to make it, so here it is as a small token of my appreciation for her assistance over the years.  While most Indonesians might enjoy this with rice, it is an excellent accompaniment to beer or cocktails.

Sambal Goreng Kering
printable recipe

6--8 potatoes (about 2 lbs.), peeled, julienned or thinly sliced with a mandoline
14 oz peanuts (if raw, fry in oil for five to six minutes until cooked)
60 -- 120 grams ikan teri, dried anchovies
oil for frying

2 TBS  oil
3--4 shallots, about 60 grams, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 fresh red chilies, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
6--9 TBS gula jawa (palm sugar)
2 TBS tamarind pulp dissolved in 3/4 cup water
3 daun salam (if you can't find them, leave them out)
4 slices fresh (or frozen) galangal
1 tsp salt

In batches, first fry the potatoes several minutes in oil around 300º F.  Drain and let cool.  Heat the oil to 375º and fry the potatoes a second time until crisp, about two minutes more.  It's important that the potatoes be very crisp before you put them in the sauce.  Drain on paper towels.

You also have to fry the ikan teri in oil.  Once you have done so, you will not want to use this oil for anything else.  So, you may want to pour off and reserve some of the oil used to fry the potatoes before frying the anchovies.  These should be fried around 350º F for just a minute or two.  Drain on paper towels.

With a food processor or mortar and pestle, process or grind the shallots, garlic, and chilies to a paste.  Stir fry the paste in the 2 TBS of oil until softened and fragrant.  Add 6 TBS of palm sugar and stir until melted.  Add in the tamarind water, daun salam, galangal, and salt.  Stir and cook over medium heat until this becomes the consistency of a thick syrup.  Taste and adjust sweetness to your preference.  Fold in the potatoes, peanuts and ikan teri until all are covered with and have absorbed the sauce.  If your potatoes were crisp, the sambal should remain crisp in an airtight container for several days. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Karipap Ayam--Chicken Curry Puffs

My family has long enjoyed curry puffs as a special treat with cocktails and I had originally thought about including these curry puffs in our New Year's celebration.  Fortunately, I sometimes come to my senses.  These curry puffs are very rich and would have been too much with all the other food we had that night.  They are, however, great with cocktails.  These, a cocktail or two, some gỏi gà and you're set for an evening meal.

These spiral curry puffs originated in Malaysia.  They consist of a Chinese flaky pastry dough with an Indian/Malaysian curry filling.  They look impressive with their spiral layers, and they are not particularly difficult to make.  They are fried though, and that is probably the main reason I won't be making them more often.  While they should certainly be able to be baked (the dough is essentially the same as that used for char siu so bang), I don't know if the spiral effect would be as pronounced.
Frying them produced a very flaky, crispy shell that was not oily at all.

I made these following the recipe in Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings. The filling was improvised from boneless, skinless chicken thighs, shallots, potatoes, Madras curry powder and curry paste, and a little coconut milk.  You want something that stands up to the richness of the pastry, that is not overpowered by it.  I served them with a cilantro chutney, tinkering slightly with the recipe Nguyen includes in her book.  Her instructions on how to braid the seal of the puffs were very easy to follow, and even I, with short, pudgy fingers, was able to produce an attractive braid.

The recipe for the dough can be found on my post for char siu so bang. The difference is that instead of rolling the final sheet out to a square, you want a rectangle.  You then roll the rectangle jelly-roll fashion into a log.  You slice the log to get circles of dough which you then roll out to somewhere between 1/8" and 1/4" thickness.  Fill each circle with several teaspoons of your filling, fold and seal.  Fry the puffs in oil around 340º to 350º F until golden brown.  (Nguyen recommends starting them off at around 300º for the first two minutes and then raising the temperature to 350º.  I found there wasn't that much difference keeping them in the higher range the whole time.)  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  They will stay crisp for at least a day.

The water dough is on the left, oil dough on the right.

The water dough encasing the oil dough.

Slices from the rolled log of dough ready to be rolled to form the puffs.

The rolled puff with some filling.

The first batch I made I failed to braid the edges as attractively as I would have liked.  I then did what teachers tell their students to do--I read the instructions on how to make a nice braid.  In the second batch the braid was much more professional looking, but I forgot to get a picture.  

I enjoyed the cilantro chutney with the puffs, but they are also excellent without any accompaniment, save perhaps for a gin and tonic, mojito, beer, or even a martini.