Nasi Ulam - Herbs & Rice Salad
Every now and then, I crave for spicy dishes that make me sweat. I am always being questioned why eating spicy food is enjoyable. It is hard to explain – it is a kind of sensation that sends tingle to the taste buds, which enhances the taste of food even more. I think it’s kind of a shame if I ever leave out the spicy taste in my cooking.
Not too long ago, I was craving for a dish that I haven’t tasted since I left Malaysia. Thanks to the internet for making the world smaller and makes information easily and instantly available. If you guys could recall Bihun Soup (Rice Vermicelli with in Beef Broth) – a childhood dish that remains in my heart until today that was brought to us by Lisa from My Lemony Kitchen. As I was browsing Lisa’s blog, I came across nasi ulam that I was really excited about. The first look of the dish had me a sudden craving and I couldn’t wait but wanted to eat it at the moment I saw!
Ulam refers to herbs, plants, edible wild plants, shoots, leaves and stems, that are eaten raw or simply blanch for a few seconds before being eaten with rice. Condiment that is eaten with is sambal belacan. Nasi Ulam, literally translated as rice with variety of greens. In Kelantan and Terengganu state, this dish is more commonly known as Nasi Kerabu. You can equate this as a Malaysian-style salad, that is very popular among the Peranakans and Malays. The only difference of this salad is that, unlike the western green salad that is usually dressed with vinaigrette; Malaysian-style salad needs only sambal belacan to make the whole dish tastes yummy!
To make my nasi ulam even better, I decided to pan-fry mackerel fillets that were slightly seasoned with turmeric. I have to say that the combination of the fresh herbs and mackerel is just excellent!
For the Nasi Ulam – Herbs & Rice Salad:
1 tsp turmeric
a pinch of salt
200g mackerel fillet
1 tbsp sunflower oil
300g cooked basmati rice or brown rice or wild rice
50g green beans (optional), finely chopped
50g thai basil leaves, finely chopped
30g coriander leaves, finely chopped
20g mint leaves, finely chopped
20g vietnamese coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp toasted desiccated coconut
For the risotto:
•2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
•1 onion, finely chopped
•1 garlic clove, crushed
•250g risotto rice, such as carnaroli
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
•150g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm/½in cubes
•400ml tomato essence
•10 cherry tomatoes, halved
•80g asparagus, cut into 5cm lengths
•4 tsp freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
1. Marinate the mackerel with turmeric and salt for 15 minutes. Then, heat up a pan over medium heat and put the sunflower oil. Put the mackerel skin side down and cook for 3-4 minutes until crisp and brown. Flip over and cook the other side for the same amount of time and set aside to let cool.
2. In a salad bowl, add the cooked rice and the rest of the ingredients. Give it a good toss to get all the ingredients well mixed. Meanwhile, when the mackerel fillets are cold enough to handle, roughly flake the flesh and add to the bowl and mix well.
3. Divide equal portion onto individual plate, serve with sambal belacan.