Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Cassava Leaves in Coconut Cream (Pucuk Ubi Masak Lemak)


Happy New Year 2014 to all my fellow Cooks!  2013 went by in a blink of an eye.  Very much so for me who already feel "old" and now I am dreading "older".  Whatever it is, for most of us, we are leaving behind a year of sweet and sad memories, ups and downs, laughter and tears and life experiences which no doubt makes 2013 yet again another year to remember and hopefully leaving each and every one of us nonetheless a year wiser. 


My new year resolution is to be a better wife, a better daughter, a better mother, a better sister, a better friend, a better worker and a better person who will in turn contribute to the world being a better place.  I don't know what to expect and what destiny has in store for each and every one of us.  All I know is that there is still much good in this world and for as long as there is good in this world, there is hope for the world to be a better place.  It will be, for God is Most Hearing, Most Seeing and Most Merciful.  To all men, women and children who are suffering in pain, in sickness and in hunger, may their suffering ease with every second and may every second be a better second than the last. Ameen...


As for my family and I, we didn't do much on New Year's eve.  I don't know what we did, but all of us seemed lethargic and we went off to bed early.  I have no idea what made us so tired but our sleeping time was not chaotic as usual and it went by without much of a hassle.  I think everyone in my family was in dreamland when it was time to countdown though I am sure that the rest of Singapore would have been less of a bore and would have ushered in the New Year with much anticipation, excitement and happiness.


Ok, now back to the subject.  Last Sunday, I cooked a very traditional dish.  It is a traditional Malay dish. A "kampung" (village) dish as some would call it but still an all time hit amongst the Malays, young and old. However, I can't say the same for people who don't eat green and leafy vegetables. :)  Our meal for that day was more of a kampung style meal.  We had white rice with the cassava leaves in coconut cream, grilled fish and sambal oelek.

Earlier on, when I came back from marketing on Sunday morning, I told my kitchen-ing assistant that I had wanted to cook the cassava leaves which I had chanced upon at one of the stalls in the market. I felt like drooling when I saw the leaves tied in bunches and decided that I am going to cook it as part of the family's meal for the day. Being her usual efficient self, my kitchen-ing assistant had boiled the leaves to cook whilst I was changing. I did not get the chance to snap pictures of the cassava leaves. Anyway, I managed to find a free image of cassava leaves tied in bunches from www.dreamstime.com.  So for those of you who are not sure how cassava leaves or what is also commonly known as "tapioca leaves" look like, I hope the image below would give you a clear picture.  Otherwise, "google" is there!



Most of the time, when preparing dishes using cassava leaves, the leaves would have to be boiled till cooked and the water from boiling drained. 


Since the leaves are long and easily tangled, what I would normally do is that once they are cooled, I take the drained boiled leaves in my hand and slice them up in bunches before setting them aside for further cooking.


My mother's recipe also calls for small white anchovies to be used as one of the ingredients in the preparation of this dish.


Then, the anchovies are blended together with some other ingredients in the food processor to form a paste.

Now, here goes! :)

Ingredients:

This dish serves about 3 to 5 people

Note that spoonful here refers to 10ml volume

2 ties of cassava leaves - pluck the leaves from stem, wash and then boil till cooked.  Drain off water and let cool then sliced in bunches as per the illustrations shown in the pictures above. (the leaves may look really a lot in a tie but after cooking, you will see that they look very little in quantity)
1 stalk of lemon grass - cut into two and crushed
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 box of coconut cream - 200 ml (I used Kara brand)
300-400 ml of water (depending on how thick or dilute you want the cream gravy to be)
1 teaspoon of sugar (or Ajinamoto, if you prefer)
salt to taste

(**Items to be blended in food processor with a little water to form a paste)
1-2 spoonfuls of small white anchovies**
5 shallots**
3 garlics**
1 fresh red chilli**

Method:


1.  Heat up just enough oil in deep based pan or pot.  Once heated, add in the crushed lemon grass.  Saute for a few seconds.


2.  Add in the blended ingredients and saute for about two minutes.


3.  Add in the turmeric powder and continue to saute until the mixture is dried or fragrant.  


4.  Once the mixture looks dried, you can add in water.  More or less depending on your preference.


5.  Give a stir.  You can add in the sugar or Ajinamoto, if you prefer.  Add salt to your taste.


6.  Add in the coconut cream.  Bring to boil whilst continuing to stir.


7.  Once boiled, bring fire to medium while stirring.  Add in the cassava leaves and stir well.


8.  Let simmer for two minutes whilst continuing to stir.  Do a taste check and season accordingly, if necessary.


9.  Off fire and serve.

Enjoy with white rice.  Happy Kitchen-ing and Happy New Year!!

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