Thursday, June 7, 2012
Curry Kapitan with Coconut and Chili Relish...
My latest foray into Malaysian Cooking. Curry Kapitan is traditionally made with chicken, and it’s said that the dish recalls the traditional role of the Chinese Kapitan, who was a man of considerable social standing amongst the Malay and Chinese people in old Melaka. Possibly invented by the Peranakans - the Malay-Chinese - to present to the Kapitan or to celebrate his role. It owes it’s flavor to the cultural melting pot of Old Melaka, and to the traditions of Chinese, Malay, Portugese, and Indian cuisine. Of course for my version I used homemade seitan instead of chicken, and decided to use soy sauce for a salty taste instead of dried shrimp paste.
This dish is nothing if not flavorful. The aroma alone is mouth-watering, but the taste... incredible! Though the ingredient list may seem long, this dish actually comes together rather quickly and it is worth every ounce of effort. When I first set out to make this dish I had no idea what to expect, and there were a few moments at least where I thought the whole thing would end in disaster. However when it came time to eat, and I took my first bite of curry Kapitan I was in love. The flavor is so complex that it’s hard to describe, but it has every flavor note you could possibly want in a dish. You can adjust the seasonings to make it as hot or mild as you like, but a little bit of kick is part of what makes this dish so fantastic. Use the chilies as a garnish, with a squeeze of lime and you won’t be disappointed. It tastes even better the next day!
Curry Kapitan with Coconut and Chili Relish
For the Rempah
½-1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large red onion
10 cloves garlic
thumb sized piece of ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1/4-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the Curry
2 Tbsp tamarind paste
Flesh from half of 1 Fresh Thai Coconut (roasted)
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 15oz can coconut milk + 1/3 c water
1-2 Pack Stevia
1 ½ lb Seitan (Homemade or Store bought)
For the Chili Relish
½ - 1 Jalapeno Minced (Depending on how spicy you want it)
½-1 Red Chili Minced or ½-1 tsp red pepper flakes
½ Bunch Cilantro Minced
Flesh from half of 1 Fresh Thai Coconut
Juice of 1 Lime
Extra Cilantro minced
Cooked Brown Rice
- First you must open your coconut. To do this the easiest way is to get a cleaver. It doesn’t have to be a good cleaver, it doesn’t have to be a $500 one, a $50 one will work just as good. Use the cleaver to whack your coconut a couple of times to break through. Drain the liquid out into a bowl or measuring cup and refrigerate to dink later, it’s not needed for the recipe.
- Once the liquid has been drained from the coconut you can split it in half. Use your cleaver and give the coconut a great whack in the middle. If like me you’re not strong enough to get the cleaver all the way through the coconut in one whack, and not skilled enough to keep hitting it in the exact same spot, use a rubber mallet to hammer the cleaver down through the coconut. This works really great, and fast.
- Once your coconut is in half use a spoon to scoop out the delicious white flesh. Once all the flesh has been removed rinse it under cold water and rub any filament away. Pat the coconut dry, and then slice it thin. Reserve half the amount of coconut in a bowl, to use as part of the relish and dry roast the other half in a pan over medium heat until it’s golden brown. Be careful not to burn it. The coconut should emit a slight nutty aroma.
- Once the coconut is a nice golden brown remove it and grind it either in a food processor or mortar and pestle until it resembles corse sugar grinds. Place in a bowl and set aside.
- Now to make the Rempah. In a food processor blend together the garlic, ginger and onion. Add in the soy sauce and pulse to combine. Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon and five spice powder.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and stir in the rempah. Fry for five to eight minutes until the mixture becomes fragrant.
- Add the seitan to the pan and fry another 3-5 minutes, to let the seitan brown a little.
- Add in the coconut milk, water, Tamarind, stevia and season with sea salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 10-20 minutes. Add in the reserved roasted coconut.
- In the meantime combine all the relish ingredients in a bowl.
- Serve the Curry Kapitan over a bed of brown rice, garnished with extra cilantro, some squeezed lime, and the chili relish.
*** Note - To make this dish Gluten-Free use Wheat Free Tamari and a soy-based ‘meat’ or tofu. To make this dish Soy-Free use Coconut Amino’s instead of soy sauce.***