July 15, 2013

Spice Up with Sate Padang

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Sate Padang
My son and I are spice lovers. It's a statement. We are like those soldiers who are wounded in a battlefield but keep shooting at the enemies until the last drop of blood leaked out. We 'fight' the heat of chilies that squeezes the snort out on a gentle force.  We 'suffer' the peppery sting that shocks the tongue. And we savour the delectable of spices until the last drip of sauce licked clean. It's that kind of adventure, enjoying a plate of homemade Sate Padang. Finishing the meal itself is a strong endeavour, I tell you. 

The richness of spices in it is incredible. First bite, there is a punch of peppery flavour that kicks in your taste buds. The next thing is that all the spices are blending in, offering you the heat, the savoury, and the saltiness-type of Padangese cuisine.

I always love Padang food. The mixed flavour of spices in it have that kind of effect on your enslaving nerve in your brain. Each bite successfully entices each taste bud I have. Although I often get that ear-tingling-hot-like-a-steam-loco after such a journey, I'll be coming back for more. It's beyond a thought. It's just what-so-called sensational, I would say.

Back in 2009, the first time I made Sate Padang my own was rather a success. That was to see the kids enjoying each bite. Surely, I did not make it too hot for their taste, but just enough for them to understand how hot the mixture of chili and pepper can be. And THAT is what flavour real Padang cuisine will be like back home.

I used meat which was not lean to try to 'impersonate' the real sate Padang sold at Padang restaurants or street vendors. Apart from fatty meat, it's common to use ox tongue. Now, I don't eat animal guts however fancy you cook them at whatever Michelin Star a restaurant is, cooked by however clever and famous your chef is. I just keep helping myself to think where that piece of meat coming from. And it is rather worrying.

So, when I dag out of the freezer and found corned tongue we preserved from latest home-kill, my mind ran wild. I wonder...if I can use this tongue to make Sate Padang and change my opinion about animal's insides.

The thing about corned tongue, it is preserved with sodium chloride, therefore, it is salty. So salty, I am not sure if the spices can even penetrate in to change the flavour. But... 

One thing to find out is to actually do it. So, I dare myself to cook this poor corned tongue with nothing but water in a pressure cooker twice, by changing the water fresh every 15 minutes before cooking another 20 minutes, in order to reduce the saltiness in the meat. I peel and dice the cooked tongue--first time to deal with such organ, kind of weird, however the show must go on. My cooking time is much faster than the one stated on the recipe below, as I'm using a pressure cooker.

Time to cook the spice paste in a low heat and rub this on and around the diced meat. I crossed my fingers to Heaven it will work. 

Although perhaps it could work better with fresh tongue, I'd say it was not too disappointing. In fact, it is not disappointing at all. There is a texture of corned meat mixed with spices that enliven the whole lot. I would expect something too salty in it, but it did not taste like it at all. I guess, I cook it right by boiling it twice prior to spice it up.    

Now, Padang cuisine does not use bird chilies to heat the flavour up, so I am told. They use dried or fresh red chilies, the wavy and slender type of chilies. I grow chilies in my garden , so I use a fairly amount of them to make paste, just to wake the flavour up, but not enough to give old loco impact though.

Sate Padang-2

May the battle begin. My son and I loved it to every bit. We salute to the spices, we thank the Almighty for creating such clever people to invent the recipe.

Future predict? Weeeeell, I'm not a huge fan of animal guts, you see. So, I'm happy I have tried, but now I know where I am standing. Thank you, but no more, thanks.

Sate Padang a la Sumiyati

I have to adjust some of the ingredients here. I have to omit the use of turmeric leaves since I have never seen any fresh turmeric here. No fresh turmeric, no fresh turmeric leaves. I substitute garcinia with tamarind, just 1 tsp. I use beef stock to enrich the gravy. I also reduce the use of chili paste to half amount. So, it's all good.

1 kg ox tongue
3 turmeric leaves
3 kaffir lime leaves
galangal, bruised
lemongrass, bruised
1 Tbs curry powder
garcinia xanthochymus
2 Tbs rice flour + 2 Tbs tapioca flour
vegetable oil

Spice Paste:

15 shallots
7 cloves garlic
4 Tbs chili paste
4 cm turmeric
4 cm ginger root
2 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp salt

Here's how to.
Cook ox tongue in boiling water for 7 minutes, removed, peeled and trimmed. Wash clean and cook again in a salted water for an hour. When it is cooked, removed, and diced to 1x1x2 cm. Reserve the stock around 600ml (I add beef stock powder here before further cooking). Have this stock ready on a medium heat.

Heat a frying pan or wok, add in oil. Cook the spice paste until fragrant. Add in leaves, lemongrass, galangal, and curry powder. Put 2/3 of the cooked spice paste into the ready stock. Add in garcinia.

Mix rice flour and tapioca flour in a bowl with enough water to dilute, pour into the boiling stock while whisking. The sauce will be thickened fast, so you need to keep stirring. Cook until thickened, removed from heat, and set aside.

Mix the cooked and diced ox tongue with 1/3 remaining spice paste on a low heat until just coated well--no need to cook it even further. Removed from heat. Thread the meat using (soaked in water prior to use for 30 minutes to avoid burning) bamboo skewers.

BBQ the sate for 3 minutes each side, removed. Serve with gravy and sprinkled of fried shallots. Eat warm with the iconic rice cakes (ketupat: is rice cakes wrapped in coconut leaves; lontong: is rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves--Padangese commonly use ketupat, but you can use either or, why not!).

Have a blessed Ramadan!

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