Singapore Main Dish – Dry Assam Seafood

Singapore Assam Seafood 001 edited re-sized

Prawns and squid make perfect pairs with a Tamarind paste seasoning. Just a few ingredients from your kitchen larder but certainly not short on taste. The slight tartness of the tamarind somehow draws out the umami of the seafood. “Dry” is perhaps somewhat of a misnomer as the Assam seafood is thinly coated with tamarind sauce which makes it more succulent.

Ingredients

The list is so simple that it was unnecessary to take my usual photo. Seasoning ingredients are found in a usual larder – salt, pepper, sugar and cooking oil. You may perhaps have to purchase a packet of Assam Paste (also known as Tamarind paste).

There are countless brands of tamarind paste available as they feature in many Asian cuisines. Some are bottled and seedless.  The photo below shows just  2 out of the many brands brands of Assam Paste that can be purchased from an Asian grocery shop in the US.

USA- assam paste -edited re-sized

Preparation

Singapore Assam Seafood 002 edited re-szied

STEP 1. Once the seafood has been cleaned ( please refer to my posts for tips on how to clean prawns Click here and Squid Click here) and the squid’s tentacles have been stuffed into the cavity of the squid and secured with a toothpick, marinade seafood for about 30 mins. in the refrigerator.

In the photo above, you will see that both shelled and unshelled prawns were used. I do have family members and guests who prefer eating shelled prawns.

STEP 2. Remove assam/tamarind seeds from the seafood. Organise the same types of seafood together.

COOKING

Singapore Assam Seafood 004 edited re-sized

STEP 1. Heat wok or saucepan over medium high heat for 2 mins or so with only a Tbsp of cooking oil. Add the prepared squid in the wok first. Cook them for a few mins, turning them once in a while. The seasoning causes them to brown rather quickly so adjust heat as needed.

Singapore Assam Seafood 006 edited re-sized

STEP 2. Whilst squid is cooking, add un-shelled prawns next. After 1 to 2 mins, adjust heat and turn prawns over to cook the other side. Be watchful as the assam and the sugar in the seasoning tend to cause the seafood to burn more easily. Don’t forget to continue to turn and watch the squid as well!

HINT: if the prawn shell separates from the flesh, you would have overcooked the prawns. It only takes about 2  to 2.5 mins on each side to cook medium sized prawns.

Singapore Assam Seafood 007 edited re-sized

STEP 3. After you have turned the un-shelled prawns over once, add the shelled prawns and cook. Turn after a min. or so to cook the other side. You may have to lift those portions of seafood which have cooked faster than the rest. Our noses also help us tell if the seafood is cooked.

RECIPE

Serves: 4 to 6 persons

Ingredients

300 gm Medium sized squid, cleaned with tentacles stuffed into the body cavity and secured with a toothpick

300 medium sized prawns (shelled or  about 180gm unshelled, as you wish)

Marinade:

  • 60 gm of Assam paste mixed with 3 Tbsp water and mashed together to create a more watery paste.
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a few dashes of ground white ground pepper

Preparation:

1.  Once the seafood has been cleaned ( please refer to my posts under “Cooking 101” for tips on how to clean prawns and squid) and the squid’s tentacles have been stuffed into the cavity of the squid and secured with a toothpick, marinade seafood for about 30 mins. in the refrigerator.

2. Add the Marinade and rub onto the seafood with your clean hands to distribute evenly. Refrigerate for 30 mins.  Remove assam/tamarind seeds from the seafood. Organise the same types of seafood together.

Cooking Method:

1. Heat wok or saucepan over medium high heat for 2 mins or so with only a Tbsp of cooking oil. Add the prepared squid in the wok first. Cook them for a few mins, turning them once in a while to cook them al around. The seasoning causes them to brown rather quickly so adjust heat as needed.

2. Whilst squid is cooking, add un-shelled prawns. Watch the cooking. After 1 to 2 mins, adjust heat and turn prawns over to cook the other side. Be watchful as the assam and the sugar in the seasoning tend to cause the seafood to burn more easily. Don’t forget to continue to turn and watch the squid as well!

HINT: if the prawn shell separates from the flesh, you would have overcooked the prawns. It only takes about 2  to 2.5 mins on each side to cook medium sized prawns.

3. After you have turned the un-shelled prawns over once, add the shelled prawns and cook. Turn after a min. or so to cook the other side. You may have to lift those portions of seafood which have cooked faster than the rest. Our noses also help us tell if the seafood is cooked.

4. Once all the seafood have been lifted onto a serving plate, add the remaining marinade and cook it for a short while in the wok. Switch off the heat. Tip the cooked seafood back into the wok and stir to coat with cooked sauce. Lift them onto the serving plate again and garnish with some salad leaves and sliced cucumbers.

Serving Suggestions

Whether you are having a family meal or inviting guests for a Singapore style meal, serve steamed white rice or brown rice with Dry Assam Seafood.

The dishes listed below are good accompanying dishes.

Chinese Soup

1. Radishes with Dried Squid. Click here.

2. Lotus Root, Peanuts and Pork Ribs. Click here.

3. Pork Stomach with Peppercorn. Click here

4. Tang Ho with Fishballs. Click here

Meat dishes

1. Chicken Curry (spicy). Click here.

2. Beef Rendang (spicy). Click here.

3. Paper Wrapped Chicken. Click here.

4. Pari Pari Style Chicken Wings. Click here.

Vegetable Dishes

1. Kai Lan and Sweet Potato Lemak (spicy). Click here.

2. Bitter Gourd Lemak. Click here.

3. Broccoli with Meat/Tofu Stir Fry. Click here.

4. Shanghai Cabbage with Oyster Sauce and Garlic. Click here.

Dessert

A sweet end to the meal is perhaps a cold refreshing dessert like

1. Almond Jelly and Longans. Click here.

2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.

3. Sago Pudding. Click here.

4. Orange Agar Agar. Click here

If your guests’ palates are more international, try

1. Ginger Poached Pears. Click here.

2. Caramel Custard. Click here.

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