Monday, October 6, 2008


Tamarao potato and bamboo shoot curry.

Originally published here:


Three cups match-stick cut potato.
One cup bamboo shoot, ditto.
Two or three shallots, minced.
Three to five cloves garlic, mashed, and an equivalent amount of ginger, ditto.
Three to five Roma tomatoes; peeled, seeded, chopped.
One and a half teaspoons each: cayenne, ground coriander.
Half a teaspoon each: ground cumin, turmeric.
Half a tablespoon shrimp paste, OR a suitable pinch of salt.
Generous pinch of sugar.
Half a cup each: ricewine or sherry, coconut milk, meat broth.
Cilantro and sliced green chilies to garnish.

Gild shallots in oil, add the garlic and ginger, stir briefly, add the spices, stir till fragrant, and seethe with a little water. Add the potato, cook for about five minutes till the liquid is gone. Add everything else, including the liquids, and cook for another ten or fifteen minutes (depends on how thick your matchstick cut potatoes are). Garnish and serve.

Bamboo shoot:
Edible young bamboo (called 'rabong' in Indonesian languages). Can be purchased in Chinatown in cans already blanched and sliced matchstickwise - simply rinse and drain before use.
If using fresh bamboo shoot, peel them, and trim away the root and any overly fibrous parts. Cut to the shape desired, and boil in a large pan of water for about twenty minutes. Do not cover the pan. This process removes the bitterness that makes raw shoots appealing only to pandas. Taste a little afterwards. If there is still some remaining bitterness, change the water and boil for another five minutes or so. Drain and rinse. Don't worry, they'll still be crunchy after cooking. Bamboo shoots are very low in calories, but a great source of fibre (hah, what a surprise!). They are reputed to be good for the heart, and both anti-viral and anti-cancerous in their effect on the body. Plus they taste good. That last bit is the most important reason to eat them. Really the only reason.
Shrimp paste: Trasi is the Indonesian version, being a dried dark brown smelly substance reminiscent of a bouillion cube..... A salty fishy rotten bouillion cube.
Nowadays I use the Cantonese version (鹹蝦醬 - haam haa jeung), which is a pungent purple-grey goop in a jar that keeps forever. It is high in salt, but also other minerals. Not very nutritious, but when cooked it is oh so tasty. Dipping green mango into a little of this is pure heaven. It should be in every kitchen, right next to the jar of sambal and the bottle of black vinegar.

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