Chef Wan’s Nyonya squid sambal is a dish that originate from the Peranakan (Straits chinese). The “Peranakan” refers to people of mixed Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage. They are also well known as the “Baba nyonya”. Peranakan males are known as Babas while the females are known as Nyonyas.
My brothers and me are years apart in age, thus I grew up spending quite a lot of time with my cousins who were of the same age as me. I spent many weekends at my uncle’s place as his 4 kids were my favorite playmates. My uncle married a Chinese lady, and she used to watch a lot of these Peranakan theater. As a kid, I found the Peranakans very intriguing. They are Chinese looking, still they speak Malay and were often dressed up similar to a Malay, dressed up in a kebaya top with intricate embroidery and a sarong, with their beaded slippers.
As I grow up, I noticed that the Peranakan cuisine has a whole lot of Malay influence to it. The spices used are pretty much the same as used in Malay and Indonesian cuisines. I was going through Chef Wan’s Book and this recipe caught my eye. It is always interesting to try different types of cuisines. Although i did a couple of modifications, yet this Nyonya squid sambal is still delicious. I served it with white rice and it was just perfect. You can substitute the squids with other seafood instead. I am going to try this with either crabs or prawns next. For those of you who love spice, do give this recipe a try!
- ¼ cup oil
- 600 g squid - cleaned and sliced
- Juice of 5 kalamansi limes
- 3 tablespoon tomato ketchup
- 1-2 tablespoon of sugar
- A handful of mint leaves and coriander leaves
- 8 red chillies - seeded
- 3 bird's eye chillies 3 - seeded (omit if you prefer it less spicy)
- 4 onions - peeled and quartered
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ½ tsp of dried shrimp paste (belacan)
- 1 cm fresh turmeric or ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 cm fresh ginger
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 5 candlenuts (buah keras)
- Combine ingredients for spice paste in a food processor and blend till fine.
- Heat oil in a pan, fry the spice paste until fragrant. This takes about 10-15 minutes.
- Add in squid, lime juice and salt.
- Mix in tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
- Top with mint and coriander leaves.