I was invited to a birthday party and I wanted to bring something to surprise him and the guests than just a bowl of fried rice or some dessert. I was more interested to make something new that will be able to share easy in a large crowd. That is canapés. Most often, canapés are made up salty or spicy ingredients to compliment with the drinks that they are serving. It can also be served hot or cold and done in individual serving which can be eaten with your fingers from your plate.
In most Peranakan home, the ladies in the house will always find something to do especially creating food art for the family and friends to enjoy. I remembered growing up in Singapore and very often especially every weekend at least one or two of our family members (especially from my late mom’s side) will host a big party just for family gathering. During this time, the ladies will prepare wonderful nyonya food with all types of curry, cake, meat and vegetable. Since all my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and grandparents were long gone and it is sadden that the younger generations in my late mom’s family or my family are not carrying the traditional except that I can proudly say that I am still practicing the family tradition and custom.
I might be the only one in my family still doing the “cooking at home” lifestyle. Well, I am so blessed that my late mom had taught me well what she knew.
I have made canapés using rice instead of breads or crackers. Actually, it turns out much better as it has more interesting and flavorsome.
450g glutinous rice
110ml thick coconut milk
150ml hot water
2 stalks green onion, cleaned and finely chopped
2 small red finger chili, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
1½ tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves only
1½ teaspoons raw sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
2 long pandan leaves or 1 tablespoon McComick Clear Pandan Essence
450g shrimps, shelled and deveined with tail intact
Chili Paste Ingredients:
8 whole shallots, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 stalks lemongrass, removed top and use the white part
7 fresh red finger chilies, stem removed
1/8 teaspoon salt
8g shrimp paste (optional – as I know not many individuals who live in the Western are not used to the smell and taste of shrimp paste and most often many local Nyonya/Malaysian/Singaporean restaurants will warn on their menu of certain dish has shrimp paste)
1½ teaspoon raw sugar
½ teaspoon tamarind paste or 3 teaspoons fresh/concentrated lime juice
3-4 pieces Kaffir leaf, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons canola/vegetable/corn oil
In a mortar & pestle/mini grinder add shallots, red chilies, lemongrass, shrimp paste and garlic (add a little water if necessary) and grind until it becomes a paste.
Heat a wok/frying skillet with canola/vegetable/corn oil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until oil becomes red in color. Add shrimp and stir until the shrimp is tender and opaque. (Remember shrimp cooks very quickly, do not overcook it, because it will turns tough). Add tamarind paste/fresh/concentrated lime juice and sliced kaffir lime leaves, raw sugar and salt. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat.
To prep the rice, firstly wash the glutinous rice until water runs clear. Leave in a pot with water, cover and soak overnight or at least 6 hours before use.
Next, heat a steamer with some water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Drain the soaked glutinous rice and pandan leave knots/McComick clear pandan essence and place rice on a shallow baking pan/a steamer basket lined with muslin cloth; place on a steamer rack and steam for 12-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl with hot water, coconut milk, raw sugar, salt and turmeric powder and stir until well mixed. Removed glutinous rice from steamer and pour coconut mixture all over the rice; stir to mix until rice absorbed with the coconut mixture.
Return mixed glutinous rice to the steamer and cook for another 15-20 minutes until rice is tender and glossy. Heat off, remove from steamer and set aside to cool for 7-10 minutes and stir in chopped, green onions, cilantro and chilies.
Spoon some seasoned glutinous rice into small appetizer bowls and use a spoon to compact the rice. Do to all the rice the same way until all done. Cover and set aside until use.
When it is time to serve, removed the seasoned glutinous rice from the bowl to a serving plate/platter and top with a sambal shrimp.