Thursday, July 11, 2013

Marhaban Ya Ramadhan.. (and things pickled..)

Yes, today is the first day of Ramadhan and I wish everyone out there Ramadhan Kareem as it is truly a month filled with blessings.( I actually started writing on the 10th which is really the 1st day of Ramadhan but only managed to hit the publish button after 12 midnight the next day..*sigh*) We went to the first Tarawih prayers of the month at a mosque not far from our home. We are not going to the Floating Mosque this year because we moved house last year, late July. (I wonder if they still engage the imam from Egypt..). So this Ramadhan, maybe a different mosque and we really hope they have iftar there because I'm not cooking anything much today... I am resting my poor knees because yesterday I was cleaning and mopping the house and then, the tarawih prayers last night (23 rakaah!)...MasyaAllah the price of old age...(lol)
You may be wondering what the title about 'things pickled' is all about...well come Ramadhan one is not only to prepare oneself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually but...also how am I going to get myself to eat a meal at 5 o'clock in the morning (the predawn meal to sustain you all day until dusk or Maghrib.) or it could be 3 am or 7 am depending on which part of the world you are in... Mind you this is not something that bothers the Prophet (may peace be upon him) when he got up for Sahoor...we can symbolise the meal by just a drink of water.
Anyway, to stimulate your sleepy taste buds for the predawn meal, we Malaysians have pickled foods just for the occasion namely Pickled Duck Eggs (Telur Masin), Spicy Dried Fruit Pickle (Acar Buah) and Pickled Fish (Ikan Perkasam). And today is your lucky day because I'm going to share the recipes with you, though you may be a bit too late to make them as it's already Ramadhan.. Never mind, you still have time to make the second recipe...or if not, just go out and buy them, haha. By the way, contrary to what people sometimes say about sharing traditional recipes ('this was handed to me from my great-great grandmother'..etc etc), well, the first one is from my good friend Kak Ramlah. The rest from Chef Google (lol)...I don't exactly copy and paste (they are in Malay, anyway). I looked at many websites and sort of modified and tweaked the recipes here and here goes

First recipe: Pickled Duck Eggs
You need:
Duck's Eggs
Jar with lid (glass or plastic will do)
1. Wash the eggs thoroughly.
2. Place the eggs in the jar (better if the eggs fill the jar completely) and add water.
3. Pour the water out into a pan and add just a little bit more water to it. Clean and dry the jar.
4. Put the water to boil and keep adding salt until you see salt crystals appearing on the sides.
5. Turn off the fire and let the salt solution cool.
6. In the meantime dry the eggs (you can dry them in the sun if you like)
7. Once the liquid is cooled and the eggs are dry place everything in the dry clean jar and twist the lid on. If you haven't boil the solution too long you will find that the liquid is just enough to cover the eggs.
8. Stick a label on the jar with the date of pickling.
9. About 18-20 days later you may take one, boil for 10 minutes, slice lengthwise with a sharp knife and see if it is salty enough. If it is, then pour of the solution, wipe the eggs clean and store in the fridge.

Drying the duck's eggs

Coarse salt or normal cooking salt will also do

Keep adding salt until crystals form on the edge of your pan

Putting eggs and the salt solution in a jar

And 18 days later....yummy!

This next recipe may be a bit tedious than the other two but well worth the effort...for one thing, you can eat it straight away!
Second recipe: Spicy Dried Fruit Pickle
1 large onion
5 cloves garlic
2 slices ginger
(chop these ingredients finely)

2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fennel
(mix these ingredients with water into a watery paste)

2 ½ cups cider vinegar
3 ½ tbsp brown sugar

300g pickled fruit
200g mixed dried fruits
10-15 bird chillies
10-15 garlic (halved)
10-15 shallots (halved)

1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp mustard seeds
(these 2 ingredients are to be fried without oil for about 3 minutes)

Vegetable oil 

1. Put about 5 tbsp vegetable oil in pan.
2. Sauté ingredients A until light brown.
3. Pour B in pan and fry until water evaporates.
4. Pour in cider vinegar and brown sugar.
5. When it starts to boil, put in the dried and pickled fruits, then the shallots, chillies and garlic.
6. Let the liquid boil off for a while then put in the seeds.
7. Add salt to taste.
8. Cool the pickle before putting in a lidded container.

A: garlic, onion and ginger

B: coriander, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, fennel

C: Apple cider vinegar (any household vinegar will do) and brown sugar

D: bird chillies, garlic and shallots

D: Top: dried fruits (sultanas, dates, kiwi, apricot), bottom - pickled fruit (more for color)

E: sesame seed and mustard seed

Sauteing ingredients A

Adding the spices

Pour in the vinegar and sugar

Adding the dried and pickled fruits

In goes the garlic, shallots and chillies

Adding the seeds..

Ready to be consumed immediately...

Keep refrigerated in a lidded container..

Last recipe: Pickled Fish
You will need:
Fish - I use Gelama (Googled: Jewfish?) Usually freshwater fish like Tilapia or Puyu (Googled: Climbing Perch? that's a funny are used for this type of pickling
Dried tamarind skin (asam gelugor)
Rice (about 1/4 cup per medium sized fish)
Jar with lid (glass or plastic will do)

1. Clean fish thoroughly. (They won't take if not cleaned properly - in other words they will rot in a gross manner...)
2. Sprinkle salt and keep fish overnight in the fridge.
3. Wash and drain rice.
4. Fry (without oil) until brown. Cool slightly and grind.
5. The next morning, drain the fish of the water that collects at the bottom of the container.
6. Mix the fish with the ground rice.
7. Layer the fish in the jar with the dried tamarind skin.
8. Cover jar tightly with the lid. Seal with masking/cellophane tape.
9. Label the jar with the date of pickling. Keep in a dark cupboard.
10. After a week, you may take the fish out and fry with sliced onions and chillies (do not wash away the ground rice).
11. You may then keep the rest in the fridge to be cooked when needed.

Fish:  ikan gelama

Adding salt

Keep in a container and refrigerate overnight

Frying the rice...

...until brown

Don't need to grind too finely..

Mixing ground rice with the fish

Dried tamarind skin pieces

Layering the fish with the asam gelugor in a jar

Tightly packed like sardines..

And sealing with masking tape..

And here's how you cook it to awaken your sleepy taste buds!'s wishing everyone a happy Ramadhan and don't skip the sahoor okey!

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