Dried shrimps are one of the most flavourful ingredients to have around in the kitchen cupboard. It is pungent and like all pungent ingredients it is packed with umami, like bonito flakes, like fish sauce, like belacan etc. A dish becomes irresistible when pounded dried shrimps are used as a flavour base. The list of dishes for dried shrimps is endless...stir fried veggies, fried rice, fried noodles...as a sambal, as a filling, as a topping...hey-ho.....everything.
Hub had just come back from a trip to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, also referrred to as 'The Land Below The Wind' by the Suluks, a sea faring people from the Southern Philippines. So named because Sabah is located just below and lies just of reach of the merciless typhoons that hit and devastate parts of the Philippines every year. This name has been popularized by Agnes Keith's book, The Land Below The Wind.
Agnes Keith was an American born in Oak Park, Illinois. She married Henry G. Keith an Englishman who was appointed a conservator of forests and Director of Agriculture of North Borneo under the Chartered Company in the early 1900's.
Her chronicles of her life and unique experiences in the then North Borneo as the wife of an English officer during the colonial era was submitted and won the prize in the non-fiction category in the 1939 Atlantic Monthly later to be published as a book named The Land Below The Wind. It received favourable reviews. Interestingly, one of her books 'Three Came Home' detailing the hardships and deprivations as POW under the Japanese became a bestseller and was turned into a motion picture.
Described by a friend ......"Mrs. AK has an unusual appearance, being six feet in height, very thin, with the stealthy lops of a red Indian. She dresses in startling and flamboyant fashion, in very bright colours while her hair is worn in two plaits,one over each shoulder, thus adding to a slightly Indian aura. " ~ excerpt from Wikipedia.
The bungalow in Sandakan, Sabah in which they spent many years as a family has been preserved by the state government.
In that sense Agnes Keith and Sabah have become inseperable just like what the best quality dried shrimps and the to-die-for whole, dried and salted red snapper is to The Land Below The Wind.
As I was saying, Hub had brought home a one kilogram packet of
This is what I made ~ Fired brinjals or eggplants in a dried shrimp sambal. Irresistible, to-die-for and totally...did I say to-die-for? Yea....
The recipe ~
I had used the long brinjals or eggplants. They were sliced length ways and shallow fried. Then kept aside on kitchen paper while the sambal (paste, pesto)was being made. I also did not use belacan. After a frantic search in my cupboard I realized that I had run out of it. Waaaaaaaa.....
2 medium sized brinjals or eggplant
1/4 cup dreid shrimps, soaked in a little water to soften
1 inch square piece belacan (optional), slightly charred over a small flame
2 pips garlic
2 large red chillis
2 dried chillis (optional) soaked in hot water for 15 minutes if using
Shallow fry the sliced brinjals in some oil until they get soft and cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper. Keep aside.
Pound dried shrimps, belacan, shallots, garlic, fresh chillies, dried chillies (if using) in a pestle and mortar until it becomes a fine paste. Salt may be added to ease the break down of the ingredients. But be careful of the amount of salt added because the shrimps and belacan are somewhat salty.
Pour *2-3 tablespoons of oil into a wok and saute the pounded ingredients until fragrant and until they turn a darker colour and looks slightly crusty on the surface. Another sign that it is done is when the oil seperates from the paste.
* Add more oil if the mixture gets too dry. This dish is greasy.
Add salt to taste and a squeeze of lime juice. Lay the brinjals on a serving plate and scoop the of dried shrimps sambal over the top. Serve with freshly cooked white rice.
I'll be submitting this recipe for this month's Muhibbah Malaysian Monday. hosted by Shaz of Test with Skewer and 3 hungry tummies.