I’ve always cooked lunch/dinner, making mostly Asian dishes or whatever I feel like (I google). But when Kevy is in charge of it, he prefers to cook the dishes he’s more comfortable with like his famous steak (which is delicious!) and hamburger gravy, which he so loves. But for week night dinners, we prefer to keep em simple, having them with maybe a bowl of rice and some steamed vegs.
Sometimes we’d cook together, I’d help him or he helps me. It’s nice to work with each other in the kitchen. We’ve been talking about getting some bar stools for the island, so I could perch and bug him as he cooks. But since our house has an open concept, sitting in the living room I could see what he’s doing too!
I bake too, but only sometimes since Kevy’s not a fan of cookies. So most of the time I’d make muffins/sweet cakes for him to snack on. I rarely have such food, not because they could be hazardous to the waistline (in fact, I’d welcome the weight gain if anything!) but because I don’t have a sweet tooth. My fuchsia KitchenAid mixer is sitting pretty on the counter, looking rather sad because I haven’t touched it in a couple weeks, so perhaps I’ll whip something up soon.
Weekends however are a different story. We to either eat out or make elaborate meals. I like to start making dinner around 5ish, so by the time Kevy comes home and showered, the food would be ready to eat. By 7, we’d be done with dinner and can relax together watching a favorite TV program or just chill out doing our own thing.
So anywho, I was hankering for some Malaysian dishes last week so I decided why not try with the most comforting food of all — nasi lemak! My mother always makes nasi lemak for us as it’s easy, delicious and doesn’t take that long to prepare. I love how there are so many different versions of it, depending on where you go in Malaysia, but one thing remains true — regardless what you have with them, you’re going to end up loving them and wanting more!
The usual way nasi lemak is made is with hard boiled eggs, fried ikan bilis and sambal (a chilli-based condiment). In some states, you can even have it with fried chicken or salted fish. Regardless of what you have with it, the fragrant rice always manages to make my mouth water and leave me wanting more.
The key to a good nasi lemak is the sambal. Make the perfect sambal, you can be guaranteed that your nasi lemak will be gone in a quick second! Mess the sambal up, then maybe you can redeem it with having the dish with ketchup, but that’s just me
Well, that’s just how I’d have my nasi lemak when I’m out of sambal!
So last weekend, since we already for everything we need when we went to the flea market on Saturday, I told Kevy I’d make nasi lemak for brekky on Sunday. He’s had it before during his trips to Malaysia (in fact the morning we got engaged, my mom made some nasi lemak), and loves Malaysian food as they’re always yummy, filling and spicy! My man loves a bit of spice in his food so spicy Malaysian dishes are not a problem for him. The funny thing is I myself don’t eat food that are as spicy as he does, so sometimes we’d joke about who’s the real Asian here!
So Sunday morning, I woke up and declared Sunday to be Malaysian culinary adventure day. Kevy was very happy with it of course, since he loves eating! He’s gained some weight since we got married which is good, coz that means he’s happy! My weight’s remained the same, not because I’m not, but because that’s just the way I am
So I started by making the rice for the nasi lemak. I heated up 2tbs of veg oil in the rice cooker before adding some chopped up some onions, ginger and garlic. After stirring them until they’re a little brown (the fragrant smell will hit you like a ton of bricks!), I added the rice, measured the water and added some coconut milk to the rice. Put the lid on and wait for the rice to be done. The next thing I had to do was the sambal.
Making a good sambal takes a lot of practice, and patience. The key is to keep stirring on low heat, something which I am NOT good at since I don’t have the patience for it. But since I’ve been hankering for some good sambal, stirred I did! it took a longgggg time, and I think the bulk of the prep time was spent on making the sambal, but I have no regrets since it came out delicious!
I chose to make sambal udang (shrimp sambal) since we have some prawns which we bought from our local seafood guy. I took the shell off the shrimps since Kevy hates it when he has to deal with them when he’s eating (I prefer it with the shell, since I think it tastes better!) then made the sambal before putting the shrimps in and stirring until the sambal was done.
Next was the ikan bilis, which was fried on low heat with a bit of oil. The smell, the memories of eating ikan bilis while they’re hot and crunchy was making me so hungry that I couldn’t resist having a few when they’re done. Kevy made a face when I told him I’d be frying some ‘anchovies’ but when they’re done, I fed him some. Turned out he loved them! I think the ones here in the US are very different from our tiny ikan bilis and personally, I think ours taste a lot better too!
At the same time, I boiled a couple of eggs, sliced some cucumbers and once the rice was ready, put them in a bowl before putting the nice bowl-shaped rice onto a plate with the eggs (all peeled and cut into bite-sizes), some sambal udang and ikan bilis on the side. The smell was amazing! It took me almost two hours to do, as I’m no champ like my mom but I sure hope it’d taste just as good.
We were both pretty hungry by the time the food was done so we both quickly sat at our darling little dining table and got ready to eat. My husband ate everything I put on his plate and kept raving about how delicious the food was. I decided to make do without with the fork and spoon and ate with my hand, Malaysian style!
As the first dish I decided to try turned out to be great, I must say that now, I am less scared of attempting to make Malay dishes. They sure take a long time to cook and require more effort, but taste so good that I really don’t mind the extra effort. Not to mention I feel warm and fuzzy inside when I see my man enjoys them as much as I do. So now it’s official: the weekends have been declared as the time we’d experiment with Malaysian dishes so I get to cure the bouts of craving I’d have from time to time!