Now this post is going to look a lot like a love-in. I love you too, I promise. But a while ago, I won the opportunity to name a chicken who lives with my blog buds Mike and Joanna at midwesternbite.com. I named her Mistress Billington, because she’s a Plymouth Rock chicken and Mistress Billington was a famous pilgrim. I nearly named her Hayley Wickenheiser after the best women’s hockey player in the world (truth, says it in Wikipedia) mostly because she happens to be Canadian and Mike and Joanna happen to be American and I was hoping to make them say Wickenheiser a lot. And after this most recent Olympics I kind of wish I had named Mistress Billington Wickenheiser because our hockey “chicks” kicked some serious ass coming from behind to win the gold medal in a game that nearly made me pee my pants with excitement (Americans are thinking wait a minute, this just stopped being a love-in. Sorry, couldn’t resist!).
Back to the love-in. So I named their chicken. Then Joanna read my book and wrote an awesome review on her blog and did a giveaway of my book. Then I announced a cookbook giveaway for my 100th blog post, where entrants had to guess what this mysterious veggie was:
Joanna guessed that it was a bamboo shoot which gave her two entries, and her husband Mike replied with tons of great information about them. Then Aly at fudgingahead threw Joanna a virtual baby shower, and I contributed a bunch of weird baby foods (although if you found me by Googling and hoped to find “baby foods,” you may have come to the wrong place). And today I cooked one of those weird baby foods, and it was surprisingly delicious, so stay tuned.
But. Considering all this, you would think that one of the MidwesternBite dream team couldn’t possibly win my giveaway of a gorgeous textbook for weird foodies like me…
Because it would look like favouritism. But you’d be wrong. Because tonight, it was Mike’s name that was ceremoniously chosen by my kids from the head of the At-at:
So congratulations Mike! And sorry to everyone else if you’re feeling left out. There’s some goat in my freezer with your name on it if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. I have to admit that I’m glad Mike won, not only because I am confident he will use this book to shock poor pregnant Joanna with odd bits of animals that he won’t fully explain until she has consumed them, but also because my daughter said, “I know it will be the prettiest one who wins,” and I knew Mike would enjoy being the prettiest competitor. Thanks to all who entered, but clearly it’s the Noxema girls who get noticed.
And now for the continuation of Joanna’s baby shower post… (love in). Some of those baby foods that I bought happened to be wee dried crustaceans that were pretty much insects. Mosquitoes that swim. In my last post I called them sea monkeys.
That’s a lot of sea monkeys. There has been quite a delay since my last post because I was procrastinating these wee aqua insects specifically. They had that smell, and I didn’t know how I would ever overcome it. You know the smell? Have you ever been to a Chinatown and walked past bins of dried fish, and it smells like a mixture of ancient Captain Highliner and mothballs? Yeah. When you soak them for an hour and try one or two, they taste like they smell. I had to swish my mouth with beer very quickly, and I was already quite hung over. I told myself I needed to disinfect my tongue with the alcohol. The sacrifices I make for this blog…
My friend had mentioned that eating small dried shrimp whole was a good texture thing, though, and I found a cool Malaysian recipe that talked about banana leaves and sticky rice – looky looky, three dangerous foods in one! I even found black “glutinous” rice – it doesn’t have gluten in it, but it’s sticky and so “glue”-like.
As I surfed around, many of the recipes urged not to substitute the banana leaves because they give great flavour. I was lucky to have found them in the freezer section of my sketchy Asian grocery store. And they don’t come small.
Should be more than enough for a few sticky rice rolls, no? I was still chicken about the dried shrimp, so I made half the batch with fresh shrimp and the other half with the dried. If you can believe it, beyond a little extra crunch with the dried shelled shrimp, there wasn’t much of a difference. And despite my skepticism, the whole thing tasted fantastic. Here’s how it went down:
Rempah Udang (Spicy glutinous rice rolls with dried shrimp)
(makes about 10 hearty rolls. Make sure you have time to soak everything ahead)
- 400g (2C) glutinous rice
- 375mL coconut milk
- 1tsp salt
- 1tsp sugar (coconut sugar is ideal)
- knotted pandan leaves (I had to omit because I couldn’t find them)
- 100g (1/2C) dried shrimps (or same of fresh)
- 70g dried coconut
- 1C coconut milk
- 1/4tsp salt
- 1/2tsp coconut sugar
- dash of pepper
- splash of fish sauce
- 4 shallots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 stalk lemon grass, sliced fine
- 2 candlenuts (pine nuts can be substituted. I omitted it all)
- 1tsp chili powder
banana leaves. You’ll have more than enough.
1. Rinse the dried shrimp and rice (separately) until the water runs clear. Let the shrimp soak for at least 1/2 hour, and the rice soak for 4 hours.
2. Mix the rice, coconut milk, salt and sugar together and steam it on high 30 minutes and low 30 more minutes. Sprinkle with water if liquids evaporate too quickly and keep going.
3. Lightly fry the shrimps until aromatic and set aside. Fry the ground flavourings and add the shrimp back. Add the dried coconut and coconut milk and cook until dry.
4. Rinse the banana leaves. Lay a wee handful of cooked rice in line along the end of the banana leaf. Add shrimp filling.
Roll the leaf over to cover it into a lengthwise roll, and then tuck the ends under and secure with a toothpick.
5. Fry (or grill) the banana leaf packet. C’est tout!
Results: I never would have believed that something that smelled rank fishy would wind up being delicious. Those Malaysians know what they’re doing! Give it a try. I bet the coconut is even half healthy, but it tastes decadent. The banana leaves do give a beautiful floral flavour. This dish takes time, but it’s fancy-tasty. Rating: 4 Yums You might even put down your entrails cookbook to go for this recipe, and I’d serve it to either of the two Canadian gold medal winning hockey teams any day.
Hey, as an aside, I just did this post on my new Macbook! Despite having to Google “how to scroll,” the whole thing went quite well!