[Sca-cooks] Salty fishy liquid ( was Re: Murri )

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Fri Jan 19 20:11:31 PST 2007

Adamantius wrote:
><shrug> Good little Indians, Chinese, French, Filipino, and lots of 
>other people add small amounts of similar products to various dishes 
>in place of [some of the] salt, and most of them don't taste
>particularly fishy... just not quite "right" without them.

I love the smell of trasi in the morning...

When i lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, my neighbor in the house behind 
mine, always dropped some trassi ( (also written terasi, it is 
fermented shrimp paste - dense and dark brown - looks a bit like 
fudge, but sure doesn't smell like it :-) into the hot oil in her pan 
at lunch time. I've no idea what she was cooking, but to this day the 
smell of hot frying/melting trasi (even the mere thought) makes my 
mouth water.

Not everyone lives shrimp paste... An Indonesian friend of mine who 
was in grad. school in the US had an Indian roommate. From what i can 
tell, this was no "ordinary" Indian, but a Brahman, who had a long 
and complex set of ablutions he followed everyday, including 
swallowing then pulling back out a long narrow piece of white cotton 
soaked in salt water. My friend, whose name was Liberty** (no 
kidding), went away for a week or so, and when he came back he 
couldn't find his trasi. Turns out his roommate had found the smell 
offensive and thrown it away.

Thai shrimp paste (kapi) is a bit more "refined" than Indonesian 
trasi or Malaysian blachan and nowadays it's what i use. Blachan 
tends to be a bit... mmm... coarse.

There's also a Singaporean kind that is gooey, a little sweeter, and 
comes in little plastic jars with amusing pictures of chubby babies 
on the labels, called petis. It was only called for in a few recipes 
i have, one being Rujak.

Rujak is perhaps the best example of an "interesting" use of shrimp 
paste. A range of fruits and vegetables are sliced and grated, then 
mixed with a sauce that includes tamarind, chunky peanut butter, 
shrimp paste, hot chili paste, and brown sugar. It's eaten as a 
refreshing snack on hot afternoons.

Rujak - Indonesian Hot and Sweet Fruit Salad

Rujak, not to be confused with RuPaul, is eaten as a snack in the 
late afternoon. Kedondong, an Indonesian fruit, is not available in 
America, so i have made a substitute. It is sweet, sour, salty, 
chili-hot, and very flavorful. I recommend having a glass of sweet 
ice tea or citrus juice along with it.

     1-14 oz. can pineapple chunks, packed in natural juice

     1 Tb. tamarind pulp soaked in 1/2 c. the pineapple juice - OR - 
use 3/4 tsp. tamarind concentrate.
     3/4 tsp trasi/terasi or blachan or kapi (firm shrimp paste)
     1 tsp. petis (a soft gooey shrimp paste)
     6 Tb. brown or palm sugar
     1/2 tsp sambal ulek - or Vietnamese chili paste
     1/2 tsp. salt or to taste (since trasi and sambal are salted, you 
may not want any)
     1/2 c. roasted peanuts, chopped finely - or substitute 1/3 cup 
natural crunchy peanut butter

     1 cucumber, peeled and sliced in matchsticks
     1 small jicama, cut in "matchsticks" (called benkoang in Indonesia)
     2 tart apples (Granny Smith, for example), cut in matchsticks - 
(in Indonesia, they'd use kedondong)
     1 mango or 2 firm peaches if mango unavailable, cut in dice
     1 small grapefruit, peeled and divided into segments (in 
Indonesia, they'd use jeruk Bali, which is a pomelo)

1. Drain canned pineapple. Save juice.
2. Soak tamarind pulp in pineapple juice for about 15 minutes. 
Squeeze to extract flavor. Strain and discard tamarind seeds and 
fibers. If using concentrate, dissolve well in juice
3. You may want to use both types of shrimp paste or only one, 
depending on availability. Roast the trasi. To do so, wrap piece of 
trasi in aluminum foil, place in skillet, heat on high fire for a 
couple minutes, just until you can smell the trasi.
4. Mix tamarind, trasi and/or petis, sugar, & chili paste.
5. Add paste to finely chopped peanuts
6. Mix cut-up fruits, including pineapple.
7. Pour sauce over. Toss to blend.
8. If desired, sprinkle with additional roasted, chopped peanuts.

Note that petis is NOT patis. Petis is a gooey Chinese shrimp paste. 
Patis is Pilipino fish sauce. Very different.
I use canned pineapple because i've never had luck with fresh 
pineapples in America. They're usually under ripe. In Indonesia 
they're picked at their peak in the morning -  you buy it in the 
market and eat it that afternoon or evening. Superb. I find that 
canned pineapple is closer than under ripe fresh pineapple.

**Speaking of odd names, Liberty was a Batak, my ex-husband was a 
Batak. My ex-husband had a cousin whose personal name was, no 
kidding, Robin Hood, which was pronounced "binHOOT" (that's "hoot" as 
in "foot").

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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