It was a wet cold Sunday. That didn’t put me off the plans I had to visit the same weekend market I did yesterday.
I woke my husband Jai up at 7.30am, took a shower and dolled up. Armed with 2 big umbrellas, no rain was keeping me away from my cravings – a nice hot pot of Pecel Ikan Cencaru – for lunch.
Although I thought that some walking would do us good, but the drizzling rain was worrying Jai so we opt to drive to the parking lot of the opposite side of the market instead.
Of course, the same Kakak who sold the fiery sambal udang petai was the first kiosk I dashed to. Fortunately for me, there were 3 table spoons left in her Tupperware. Jai made a comment that, being only 8am in the morning, her sambal udang petai must be a hit with the customers. We bought two packets of nasi lemak and one packet of bee hoon (not to Jai’s surprised and was delighted that I would be sharing that with him).
The Sunday scenery at the market was a bit different than yesterday. Kakak obviously had a few other competitions. One had even put out tables under a shade and offered hot drinks but I wouldn’t imagine myself anytime soon having nasi lemak there, especially since its monsoon season.
I proceeded to the only Malay guy who sold everything from fish, poultry and beef. We had discussed of getting ikan cencaru (or known as ikan jacket in the north according to Jai) at Tesco Ampang but I was interested in taking the trip there this morning. I bought a kilo for RM6.00.
Next was the other Malay guy who sold everything there is to do with local herbs. I frantically looked for my akar cekur (also known as KENCOR in javanese or scientific name – Kaempferia galanga) and was overcome by the feeling of a possibility it was not available today. But lucky for me, only a few heaps were. I bought about RM1 of them, 1 fistful I guess, 3 bundles of pucuk paku and a bag of shredded coconut (I had one more bag in the freezer).
Before going home, we bought a 1 and half kilo of bananas, some brown sugar and a packet of flour from another kiosk that sold dried goods. This uncle’s kiosk was from a make-shift van and you can even buy cans of bake beans from him.
Promise I’ll take photos the next time ok?
So what’s for Sunday lunch you ask…?
3 bundles of pucuk paku – only the young stems and leaves chosen and blanched.
Don’t forget to put a pinch of salt and sugar in the boiling water. This helps keeping your greens green.
This is the recipe for my mum’s famous Pecel Ikan Cencaru. It’s her version of Pecel LeLe – LeLe in Indonesian means Ikan Keli (catfish). She’s not too fond of Ikan Keli so that explains the substitute.
1 kilo of Ikan Cencaru
3 cloves of garlic
200 grams of akar cekur
50 grams of ikan bilis (anchovies)
50 grams of cili padi (bird’s eye chillies)
Salt to taste.
One teaspoon of tamarind
Coconut milk from 2 coconuts.
The Ikan Cencaru need to be grilled first then deboned to obtain just the flesh.
The akar cekur are washed and scrubbed clean. The shallots and ikan bilis are deep fried first.
Place all of the ingredients you see in the photo below in a mortar and grind. Ingredients from clockwise – akar cekur, garlic, cili padi, fried ikan bilis and fried shallots.
Place the coconut milk in a pot.
Place the pot over the stove and put in the grinded ingredients.
Stir well and bring to a slight boil to thicken.
Once the gravy is thick, place in the pot the ikan cencaru flesh carefully as not to break them.
Allow to cook for another ten minutes, making sure the stove is on low heat as not to break the coconut milk (pecah santan as they say)
You can add terung bakar (grilled eggplant) as well or substitute it with the ikan cencaru if you wish.
One thing about this dish is that, you don’t need other fancy veges to accompany. Pecel is often best with just plain blanched veges. I guess kampong dishes are always simple, taking ingredients from your own gardens or orchid (kebun) and using the catch of the day, hence the simplicity.
Some Malaysian may confuse Pecel as those Indonesian rojak. But we call that Gado-Gado. So basically in a Javanese home, this is Pecel.
OTHER PECEL RECIPES
And if you’re wondering what the bananas, brown sugar and flour was for, well lets just say, I was craving for my own fried cucur pisang with hot local kopi o, since it always rain the afternoon.
Those piping hot brown babies are just simply heaven on a cold wet afternoon for tea don’t you agree?
Promised to share Aliya’s singing – here you go
Aliya singing Umbrella by Rihanna