How to Make Nasi Ulam Penang

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Recipe by Hotel Jen, Penang

One of the Hotel Jen recipes that didn’t make it into our video series during my recent trip there was Nasi Ulam, a herbed rice salad dish.

Nasi Ulam wasn’t something I was familiar with growing up in the southern part of the Malaysian peninsula, but it is popular in a variety of forms in Indonesia, southern Thailand and northern Malaysia. I’m actually more familiar with the Kelantan version which is known as Nasi Kerabu – due to having eaten it numerous times at Aspaliza’s house and even running a Hangout-on-Air on it (yes, recipe for Nasi Kerabu to come!).

The Penang version has a light and refreshing twist to it, thanks to the Nyonya influence on the island’s cuisine. I was told one of the most important ingredients in this dish is the bunga kantan aka ginger flower bud; this goes some way towards explaining my delay in sharing this recipe (fine, procrastination factored into it as well) – after many years of searching I’ve only just managed to find bunga kantan, albeit in frozen form, here in Sydney.

Some of the other herbs and greens include pennywort leaves, ulam raja (literally, the King’s salad) aka cosmos caudatus and daun kadok aka wild pepper leaves. Most of these are available in Thai and Vietnamese grocery or vegetable stores around Sydney.

I would suggest in the absence of these herbs that you use what is more readily available in your part of the world – combined with the other elements – belacan (shrimp paste), dried shrimp, salted fish and pounded coconut – it makes for a tantalizing and flavoursome experience.

Hotel Jen Penang's Nasi Ulam

Hotel Jen Penang’s Nasi Ulam

Nasi Ulam

Ingredients – 

600g cold, cooked rice

30g Dried shrimp

30g Dried salted fish

50g Shallots, sliced

1 Bunga kantan (ginger flower bud)

3 pcs Daun kadok leaves (wild pepper leaves)

5-7 Pegaga leaves (pennywort)

5 stalks Ulam Raja (cosmos caudatus)

1 stalk Lemon grass

30g Fresh Turmeric

30 pcs Kaffir lime leaves

15g Fried ground coconut (kerisik)

10g Belacan

5g Black pepper, crushed

Method – 

  1. Wash and clean the vegetables.
  2. Cut all greens, slice thinly; chop lemongrass & fresh turmeric.
  3. Bake the dried shrimp and salted fish for 10 minutes in a pre-heated oven at > 150C.
  4. Pound the dried shrimp and salted fish together.
  5. Mix all ingredients with rice, season to taste and serve.

#baby Noah at Hotel JenMemories of Penang from my last trip there back in November. #babyNoah and I were at the Hotel Jen restaurant when I caught him looking at me from the phone camera which I had set up in order to test a new mini tripod.#DownSyndrome #hydrops #AVSD #duodenalastresia #NICU #PICU #Penang #hoteljen

Posted by Jackie M. on Monday, May 4, 2015

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