F1 is awesome in every way but one. The majority of races are broadcast at ungodly hours here on the East Coast. So Matt Hardigree and I got to thinking: If we're going to be DVR'ing most races and watching them on Sunday mornings, why not cook our way through the race season?
We missed Australia (whatever, we missed vegemite toast and drinking 7 cans of lager), but we solemnly swear to cook an indigenous dish for each race on the F1 calendar... if we're not too hungover. So, without further delay, here's what we made during the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Nasi lemak is a traditional Malaysian breakfast dish of coconut rice, hot anchovy chili sauce, fried anchovies, fried peanuts, cooling cucumber, and hard-boiled egg. Take each one of these ingredients on its own and they're sort of gross. But get them together in the proper proportions and they make a fantastic lunch or a very weird breakfast. Fingers crossed. Here we go.
Wise words, Fausto Coppi. Wise Words.
First, we made coffee. Why? Because it was eight in the fucking morning and I can't even spell my own name correctly without the help of caffeine.
Next, we assembled our ingredients. Quick programming note, while I did pull up a recipe to get a general sense of proportions, we didn't follow it precisely. Here's what you'll need:
- Spanish onion
- Fresh ginger
- Long grain rice
- Coconut milk
- Bay leaf
- Canola oil (for frying)
- Raw peanuts
- White anchovies
- Olive oil
- Chili paste
- Tamarind juice
- Salt and pepper
You're going to want to start the rice first. Peel and slice some fresh ginger. Combine it in a pot with the long grain rice.
The recipe calls for ginger powder, but that shit is gross. So we grated some fresh ginger on top of that. Yes, I know this is a microplane. Yes, I know it's a woodworking tool. Guess what? It's even better for cooking than it is for woodworking. Plus I don't know anything about woodworking.
Pour the coconut milk on top of that. But whatever you do...
Don't taste it.
Add a bay leaf, cover the rice, bring it up to a boil, turn down the heat and then let it simmer for 20-30 minutes or until all the moisture has evaporated.
Now it's time to get your eggs going. Traditionally, nasi lemak is served with hard-boiled eggs, but I personally don't see the point of eating an egg without a deliciously runny yolk. Matt, on the other hand, argued vociferously for the venerable hard-boiled egg. In the end we compromised on a medium-boiled egg with a deliciously runny yolk. Congress, take note.
Once your eggs are done, shock them in an ice bath and set them aside.
Start slicing your onion, garlic, and shallots. They should be finely and evenly sliced, but not thin enough so that you can see through them.
You might as well peel and slice your cucumber at this point as well. Set it aside with your eggs to await plating.
Heat the frying oil in a saucepan. Once it's good and hot, drop in your peanuts. Whatever you do, don't leave the stove at this point. Peanuts go from raw to burnt faster than an F1 car accelerates from 0-60. One they're done, remove them with a slotted spoon and set them on a paper towel to drain and cool. Sprinkle with just a touch of kosher salt.
In the same oil, fry half your anchovies. Again, don't leave your stove as these cook pretty quickly.
Once they're a delicious golden brown, remove them with a slotted spoon and set them on the same paper towel as the peanuts. DO NOT SEASON WITH SALT. Anchovies are basically swimming bites of salt.
Some of the anchovies will crumble and collect together into a gross-looking ball in the oil. Do not be frightened. It remains delicious.
Pause for artsy photo of fried peanut and anchovy mound.
Finally, it's time to build your sauce. Start with a fresh sauce pan and a small amount of olive oil. Over medium-high heat, slowly sauté the sliced onion, shallot, and garlic for about five minutes until they start to become translucent. Season with a bit of kosher salt.
Add a few generous teaspoons of chili paste.
Sriracha isn't traditional, but whatever, it's the sweet and spicy tears of the Devil so I added a bit to the sauce. Reduce heat slightly and cook for about ten minutes. If the sauce appears too dry, add a small amount of water. Or more sriracha if you're crazy.
Add the rest of the anchovies to the sauce and continue cooking for another five minutes.
Finally, add sugar, a touch more salt and tamarind juice to finish the sauce. Leave the sauce simmering for another five minutes until you can wait no longer to eat.
Finally, plate it. Start with a heaping pile of coconut rice, top with the sauce, then fried anchovies. Garnish with fried peanuts, halved medium-boiled egg, cucumber and a few extra squirts of sriracha.
Eaten separately, these ingredients just don't work. The coconut rice is cloying sweet, the fried anchovies and anchovy sauce are salty, the cucumbers boring, and the medium-boiled eggs bland. But mix them together in the right proportions and they just work. Everything is balanced: salty, sweet, acidic, chewy, and crunchy.
Don't talk to me. I'm eating.
If you'd like to try making nasi lemak yourself, check out this recipe.
Next week, we'll be cooking something for Bahrain. We have no idea what it'll be, but we'll definitely be cooking... something. Stay tuned!