Tuesday, December 2, 2008
PULUT UDANG - SPICY COCONUT PRAWNS AND GLUTINOUS RICE ROLLS
My father's favourite savoury snack and mine too. I did not really look forward to making this as it entails four separate activities. The cooking of the filling, the cooking of the glutinous rice, the wiping and wilting of the banana leaves and then finally the wrapping and rolling of the food in the banana leaves. But it was worth all the effort in the end and I now have a stack of yummy 'pulut udang' that I can snack on throughout the day. Makes 12 rolls.
Glutinous rice :
2 cups glutinous rice, soaked overnight
1/2 to 3/4 cup of thick coconut milk, an approximate amount
Bring a steamer pot of water to boil. Drain the glutinous rice, add the salt, and place the rice directly into the second tier of a steamer pot (the one with holes). Dribble some cococnut milk over the rice, probably about 3 or 4 tablespoons at a time, stir to mix, cover and let steam. After about 15 minutes open the lid, give the rice a toss (be careful of the hot steam) and dribble some more coconut milk. Taste for salt and add some more if bland.
Do this intermittently, a couple or more times, until the rice is completely cooked through. Unfortunately I did not time the cooking so I can't really tell you exactly how long it took. But by a rough estimate it probably took about 45 minutes or so. When it is done just leave the rice in the pot covered until you are ready to roll. The heat in the pot will continue to cook the rice while covered.
The Filling :
5-6 fresh red chillies
1 stalk of lemon grass, sliced finely
a knob of fresh tumeric or a 1/2 tsp of tumeric powder
The above three ingredients are to be pounded to a paste or chopped in a food prcessor till very fine.
1 1/2 tbsp dried prawns, soaked to soften and pounded coarsely
7 -8 medium sized prawns diced
2 cups grated coconut
2 Tbsp cooking oil
Heat the cooking oil in a pan and saute the pounded ingredients, and pounded dried prawns until they turn soft and slightly golden. Add the diced fresh prawns and stir until the prawns are cooked through.
Add the grated coconut and stir again to coat the coconut with the spices. Add salt to taste.
Preparing the banana leaves :
Wipe the banana leaves down with a clean damp cloth. Wilt them over the open flame of your stove by holding the banana leaves at one end and pulling it across directly over the flames making sure every part of the laef is heated and wilted. You will be able to see the banana leaves wilt and soften almost immediately upon contact with the flames. Be careful not to burn though. Cut them into squares roughly the same size about 6 by 6 or slightly larger if you like.
Here is a good explanation on various other methods on how to wilt and prepare banana leaves for wrapping foods.
The construction :
Take a blob of glutinous rice and place it on a pice of banana leaf. Flatten it like in the picture and then put some filling over it as you would when you make a sushi.
Use the top and bottom ends of the banana leaf to bring the rice over the filling and then open it up again and roll it up into a neat roll. Fold up the left and right ends and STAPLE!
This is a little strange because this is the only occasion where I have stapled a food item. The traditional way is to use a lidi (the spine of a coconut leaf) which looks something like bamboo skewers but which are more flexible and not as threathening. I couldn't get any lidis so like many other people in the city I used staples.
Anyway once all the pulut and filling have been used up and rolled and wrapped in the banana leaves arrange them in a single layer and place them on a baking tray and cook them under the broiler of your oven or grill them over an open fire (which is the traditional way just like grilling satay) or in a grilling pan on the stove until part of the banana wrapping have become somewhat burnt on the outside and looks grilled. It probably takes about 15 minutes over an open fire.
Serve the pulut udang with the banana leaves left on.
It will have a lovely smoky flavour as a result of the grilling which goes well with the yummy spicy combination of prawn filled grated coconut and sticky rice. After grilling the surface of the rice layer will be golden, crusty and a little chewy. Not much different from the 'kerak' or crust that's left at the bottom of your pot after you have cooked some rice. Yum.
TIP : Don't worry if the filling shows through rice layer a little. It will all be covered up by the banana leaves and when cooked it will taste just as good as when it looks perfect.
TIP : If you find the sticky rice sticking to your hands as you handle it, rub a little cooking oil on your hands before you work or use a patch of lightly oiled banana leaf to press and flatten the sticky rice ready to be filled.
TIP : Make sure you leave the rice in the pot COVERED while you make the filling or do other things other wise the rice will get dry on the surface and will be somewhat crusty. Uncover only when you are ready to use it.