We welcome MasterChef 2017 winner Diana Chan to delicious. Her column will celebrate her Malaysian heritage and feature wholesome, nourishing recipes.
2017 winner Diana Chan brings a taste of Malaysia to her debut column.
WINNING MASTERCHEF HAS opened up incredible opportunities, allowing me to pull back on my career as an accountant and focus on pursuing my passion for food.
For my first delicious. recipe, I’ve chosen a dish that brings back a lot of childhood memories, sambal hae bee (which translates to dried baby shrimp sambal). This was always a breakfast treat, and traditionally we would eat the sambal on some buttered white bread (trust me, it works). This recipe has been passed down to me by my mother. It is a Nyonya dish, a distinct form of Malaysian cuisine that evolved from descendants of the intermarriages of Chinese immigrants with the local Malays native to Melaka, Penang and Singapore. Their food is a fusion of traditional Chinese and Malay. Nyonya cooking focuses on the blending of tangy, aromatic spices with lots of fresh herbs, so think ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, chillies, turmeric and belacan (shrimp paste).
I took my childhood inspiration and decided to create a fresh and fun way of eating this spicy, punchy and bold-flavoured sambal, pairing it with crunch and freshness. The idea is to have this as a DIY canape or appetiser when your guests arrive.
I want the next year of my column to be interesting and educational, and hopefully I can share some of my traditional Nyonya/ Malaysian heritage with you through my recipes. Food, to me, is theatre, and my family and I want to be able to share this with you. I hope you enjoy creating this dish and I can’t wait to show you what I have in store next.
BETEL LEAF SAMBAL HAE BEE
SERVES 4-6 AS A CANAPE
1 cup (200g) medium-grain rice, rinsed 2 bunches betel leaves (from Asian food shops – substitute lettuce leaves), leaves picked Coriander leaves, thinly sliced red chilli, fried Asian shallots, chopped roasted peanuts and lime wedges, to serve
SAMBAL HAE BEE (MAKES 2 1/2 CUPS)
125g dried baby shrimp (from Asian food shops) 1/ 2 cup (20g) dried red chillies, half seeds removed 2 long red chillies 3 garlic cloves, peeled 2 Asian (red) eschalots, peeled 1 lemongrass stalk, white part chopped 1 tsp each chopped turmeric, ginger and belacan (shrimp paste – from Asian food shops) 1/ 2 cup (125ml) sunflower oil 2 tsp caster sugar 5 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
Place rice in a bowl, cover with water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, for the sambal, place shrimp and dried chillies in separate bowls, cover with water and soak for 15 minutes. Drain. Whiz shrimp in a food processor to fine threads. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside. Whiz dried and fresh chillies, garlic, eschalot, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, belacan and 2 tbs water to a paste. Set aside.
To cook sticky rice, place drained rice and 2 cups (500ml) water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stand, covered, for 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir and set aside.
To cook sambal, heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add sambal paste and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until darkened slightly. Add sugar, kaffir lime leaf, shrimp and a pinch of salt flakes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Spoon rice and sambal onto betel leaves. Serve with coriander, chilli, fried shallots, peanuts and lime wedges.