Monday, August 9, 2010

Assam Babi Masak Peria (Pork Ribs Cooked with Bitter Gourd in Tamarind Sauce)

We had this simple dish for dinner. This is one of my favourite Peranakan foods. I had this home-cooked dish five years ago. It was so yummy that I may forget the presentation of the dish but not the smell and taste at all! It was then cooked by my late beloved grandmother-in-law. I never planned to cook this tonight but I just kept thinking about it when my mother-in-law casually mentioned this dish yesterday. So I dug out all the Peranakan recipes books and magazine that I have and was so happy to have found the recipe!

This dish is fairly easy to cook and it did not call for complicated spices. You probably would have all the ingredients at hand most of the times. You may replace the pork ribs with pork belly or chicken if you wish. My husband and I are bitter gourd fans and we love the texture and taste of this not so likable green by many no matter how you cook it :>

1/2 kg pork ribs
1 bitter gourd (About one and half feet long)
One bowl of long beans
4 fresh green chillies (throw away the stalk and deseed)
2 fresh red chillies (throw away the stalk and deseed)
950ml of tamarind juice (use about 5 tablespoons of tamarind paste and squeeze the juice out)
2 stalks of lemongrass (Smash the head)

10 dried chillies
4 fresh red chillies
half inch thick and about 2" x 2" width square shrimp paste (belacan)
10 shallots
4 candle nuts (grinned until fairly fine)
2 tbsp mashed fermented soya beans (taucu)


1. Boil the pork ribs in boiling water for about 10 minutes, drain and put aside.

2. Cut the bitter gourd into rectangle about 3cm x 2cm each and boil them for about 10 minutes and set aside.

3. Cut the long bean about 3cm long each and set aside.

4. Blend all the ingredients for spices except the fermented soya beans.

5. Heat up the oil and fry the blended spices in slow fire until oil seeps out, about 20 minutes.

6. Add the fermented soya beans and lemongrass and continue to fry until fragrant, less than 5 minutes.

7. Add pork ribs and fry for about 10 minutes

8. Add tamarind juice and increase the fire and let the gravy boil in high heat for about 15 minutes. Transfer into a small pot at this stage. Reduce to low heat and simmer for about half an hour or more depending on how tender you prefer the pork ribs to be.

9. Add the long beans and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes

10. Add the bitter gourds, the balance of red and green chillies and continue to simmer until tender, about another 20 minutes

11. Add sugar and salt to taste.

I think everyone in the family had fairly more than a bowl of rice tonight. We had a good time enjoying this simple authentic Peranakan dish while watching the Singapore 45th National Day Parade on the TV!! I personally would give this dish 4 thumbs-up upon 5!

Notes :
1. I have blended the shallots separately with the chillies. I prefer to blend a lot of onions ahead of time and keep them in the fridge in an air tight container. This way, you may keep the blended shallots for later consumption for more than a week. I will just withdraw the required amount from the fridge whenever I need it.

2. You can do likewise for the chillies. In fact when you blend the dried chillies and red chillies, together with belacan, you are actually halfway making sambal belacan. To complete the recipe for making sambal belacan, just get a few lime leaves, shred them very finely, mix them together with the chillies paste and add a touch of lime juice. I had made this in advance also (without adding in the lime leaves and skin).

3. My late grandmother-in-law used to pound the lime leave and its skin until fairly fine and mix them together with the chillies. Do not use too much lime skin or it may cause the sambal belacan to taste bitter.

4. Cut down the spiciness of the chillies by adding some sugar. The tamarind juice will bring down the spiciness of the chillies as well. If you prefer a more spicy sambal belacan or assam babi, add chillies padi (small chillies.

5. We enjoy very tender bitter gourd and long bean for this dish rather than crunchy. So for that result, I have simmered the vegetables for quite a while.

6. My mother-in-law said that brinjal can be added in if wish, so I would think that lady fingers are suitable as well?!

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