Sunday, February 12, 2017

[RECIPE]: Ayam Buah Keluak

It's that time of the year again! I whip out all the ingredients for one of the best dishes in the world: Ayam Buah Keluak. 

You'll find plenty of recipes floating about the great interwebs, but they're not wrong. See, every Peranakan family adds its own special touch to the dish. Abel's family, for example, uses Babi (pork) but my family uses Ayam (chicken). His family pops in plenty of the nut's meat into the gravy, my family just allows it deep out slowly. My family fries the buah keluak meat, his family steams it. 

All different, all very delicious. 

Here's my recipe:


INGREDIENTS
Tools:
- A big plastic tub
- A brand-new clothes brush (strong bristles)
- A hammer with a flat, chisel-like edge
- Blender
- Frying pan
- Big pot

Seasoning:
- salt
- pepper
- five-spice powder

Buah Keluak:
- 1 bag of Buah Keluak nuts (usually comes with about 30-40 nuts)
For those who don't know where to get these:  
I buy them from this guy called Peter Wee at the Katong Antique House, $15 a bag every Chinese New Year.
According to a lot of people, including some of my in-laws, I can get nuts at Tekka Market and other places, but my grandmother used to buy from this dude, so I do that now too.

- 8 prawns, deshelled, deveined and minced

Rempah:



- 20 shallots, chopped
- 10 garlic cloves, chopped
-  
8 lemongrass, chopped- 3 - 4 candlenuts (adjust according to how thick you want your rempah to be)
- 1 tsp belacan, fried
- a knob blue ginger, sliced
a knob of tumeric
- 2 - 3 candlenuts
- 10 dried chillis, soaked and deseeded
- 10 fresh chillis,
- 3-5 chilli padi (adjust according to your spicy manliness)

Other ingredients:
- oil for frying
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 2 assam skin - dried tamarind skin (adjust according to taste)
- 2 - 3 limau purut (lime leaves)
- rock sugar (adjust according to taste)
- 5 chicken thighs, chopped

STEPS
Prepare Buah Keluak



1. Dump all the Buah Keluak nuts into a tub of clean water. Scrub with a brush, hard. Once they're clean, soak in clean water. Change the water and scrub the nuts daily for the next 10 days. This has to be done to wash away any traces of cyanide (I hear its cyanide lah). (Yes, that's right. Dem nuts have trace amounts of poison.)
2. After 10 days of dumping out scummy brown water, scrub for a final time, pour out all the water and put aside.
3. Take out your hammer and start cracking open the top of the nut (that's the smooth opening of the nut). Toss away the broken bits of shell, dig out the meat and place the meat in another bowl. Scrap the buah keluak clean.
Notes about cleaning buah keluak: 
1. Buah Keluak should smell like... pungent sour plums, but some have no smell at all! If you notice a fishy, repulsive scent, toss the whole nut. It's bad. 
 2. Clear the shell from the opening completely. It makes it easier to stuff the meat back and to dig out when ready to eat. 
3. After you've cleaned it, prep the meat immediately. Empty shells left to dry grow fuzzy white mold within an hour. It's hell, cause you're gonna have to start the whole 10 day process AGAIN. 
4. Once you've emptied all the shells, take five-spice powder and salt. Sprinkle liberally over the meat. Add the minced prawn. Mix well.
5. Add oil to a hot pan, fry mixture till fragrant and dry (not too dry!). It should resemble a crumbly (but still moist) cookie dough.
6. Let the mixture cool for a while and go wash your empty Buah Keluak shells.
7. Stuff the cooked mixture back into the shells. Smooth the top to give it a nice shape.
8. Place into a plastic bag and into the freezer.

Prepare Rempah



1. In a blender (unfortunately I don't have time to tombok. - That means "pound" with mortar and pestle), blend the shallots, garlic and belacan. Set aside.
2. Blend the lemongrass, ginger, tumeric, 2 candlenuts. Dump in the shallots, garlic and belacan mixture. Blend again. It should form a paste. Add a candlenut if it's too watery. Set mixture aside.
3. Mix all the chillis together to form cili boh (chilli paste). Set half aside and leave half in the blender.
4. Add the first mixture into the cili boh. Add the remaining cili boh into the rempah according to how spicy you want it to be.
5. Dry fry the mixture (that means no oil) in a hot pan to allow access moisture to evaporate.
5. Once done, place into a container and store in the fridge for when you need it.

Finish Up



1. Take the chopped chicken thighs and marinade with rempah.
2. Add oil to a hot hot hot wok/pot. Fry the chicken thigh to crisp the edges a little. Set the chicken aside.
3. Add more oil and dump your rempah in. It should sizzle like your butt in denim shorts.
4. Fry till fragrant and till you notice the oil separating from the rempah. If your rempah gets too dry, just add more oil.
5. Toss the chicken back in there, then add the water and chicken stock. Cover and leave to boil merrily on medium heat.
6. After about 5 minutes, add in the limau purut and assam skin. Cover again and leave to simmer merrily.
7. Uncover and taste. Add more water or chicken stock if necessary. Add in rock sugar for sweetness. Adjust according to taste.
8. Once it hits the flavour you want, leave it to cool. Place mixture into fridge or leave it chilling on the stove.
9. Heat up again the next day. It will be perfect then.
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