There are some home cookings from Malaysia that I really miss. But I am also having troubles locating a few essential ingredients even if I bother to cook that authentic dish myself. Pandan leaves for instance, it is hard to come by in the area where I live. But in Sydney, heaps of them! I took my fellow foodbloggers' advice and venture down to Sydney to look for all the ingredients that I need.
My intention was to look for pandan leaves at the asian grocers in Sydney so I can make some nyonya kuih Malay desserts. I found some frozen ones at the shop next to Chat Thai which looks sad and frostbitten badly. So I crossed over to next door which doesn't look much from outside but surprisingly they got everything that I need! Fresh pandan leaves for only $2 a bunch! Banana leaves - one buck! And then I found this...
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I only know the beans in Chinese as 四菱豆 (Sei Lim Dao) or Kacang Botol in Malay. Minh asked me what they are, I shrugged and seriously had no clue what they are called in English. Helen casually called them "Winged Beans" as she had just came across them during her Luke Nguyen's Cabramatta Food Tour recently.
The winged bean is also widely known as "Four-angled Bean" in Malaysia for the obvious reason. When it is chopped diagonally, the four angled bean has the distinctive "X" shape which gives it its name. They are a creeper plant and usually quite hardy and can grow easily along the wire fence. My heart sank when I saw them at $3.00 a bunch at the asian grocer, but I had to have it. I bought two bunches and can't wait to cook them the best recipe they deserve - using belacan of course.
The winged beans actually have not much of a taste on its own, so usually it is cooked with a recipe like the sambal belacan to enhance its flavour, while the bean itself provides the crunch. Stir fried belacan winged beans has always been my favorite. It is a simple quick toss, you don't have to cook them for long. The winged beans should still be crunchy after cooked. And whenever you are playing with belacan, always make sure all the windows are open and the whole kitchen is well ventilated. You probably won't be popular among the neighbours with that pungent smell coming out from your kitchen, but you definitely won't want your whole house smell like rotten shrimp for the next few days either.
Prawns are usually a good pairing key ingredient with the beans to give the dish a new layer of tenderness. I also bought a big tub of pork cracklings, and decided to use it as a garnish for the dish. It gives the dish an amazing earth shattering crunch.
This dish has definitely bring back a lot of childhood memories, and makes me rather home sick. But no fret, me and a few Sydney Foodbloggers will be on an eating tour in Malaysia in 2010!!! The tickets are booked and I can hardly wait to show them my hometown and the local cuisines! It will be fun, fun, FUN!
Stir Fried Belacan Winged Beans
300g winged beans (four-angled beans) - around 8 - 10 strings (cut diagonally)
5g of belachan (toasted on fry pan until fragrant)
1 red chilli (finely chopped)
10g dried shrimp (pounded)
300g prawns (cooked and peeled)
A handful of pork crackling (optional)
2 tbsp of Tean's sambal crispy prawn chilli
1. Heat vegetable oil in a wok, fry chilli, dried shrimp paste and belacan till fragrant. Make sure the kitchen is well ventilated.
2. Add in beans, give it a quick stir. Then add prawns and mix them well together until all coated with chilli and belachan.
3. Add the sambal crispy chilli flake if you want it hotter.
4. Add a bit of water (around 1/3 cup) and let it cook for few more seconds.
5. Then ready to serve when is still hot. Crush a few pork cracklings and sprinkle on top as final touch.