Belacan is an extremely popular condiment used in a great variety of Malaysian cooking. It comes in the form of a pressed brick or cake and the unique thing about it is that the ingredients of belacan are all raw. Traditionally, they are made with a kind of very tiny shrimps, drained and salted before being left to ferment and dry in the sun. Then, they are mashed together to form a paste and fermented again and this process is repeated. The smell of roasted belacan can be digusting to some but heavenly to others. As an ingredient, it mellows out and harmonises in the cooking and acts as a sort of natural flavour enhancer.
I used belacan in this chicken dish and served it with wholemeal bread, or you can opt for plain white rice ... either way, rest assured it's just yummy!
- 1 kg free-range chicken, skin removed and cut to bite size
- 25 shallots
- 8 pips garlic
- 3 red chillies
- 2 lemon grass
- 15 gm belacan paste
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3 to 4 limau kasturi ~ calamansi
- Cucumber for garnishing
- Wash the chicken, drain and season with 2 tps salt for about 2 hours.
- Blend or pound the shallots, garlic, lemon grass, red chillies and belacan paste.
- Heat up a wok with 2 Tbsp oil, and stir-fry the chicken pieces for a while.
- Push the chicken aside, add in the blended ingredients and stir-fry. Mix in the chicken.
- Next add in the water and 2 tsp sugar and let it cook, covered, under medium low heat.
- After about 45 mins., remove cover and check whether the chicken is cooked and tender. Then continue to simmer to desired consistency.
- Test for taste, turn off heat and squeeze in the limau kasturi.
- Dish out and serve with some cut cucumbers.
Do find out more from this ' site '