Monday, December 3, 2012

Kerabu Bok Nee, Nyonya Wood Fungus And Poached Chicken Salad - "Malaysian Monday 98"

Having only Sunday off means I often try to fit in too much on my only day off. With that I get a huge dose of blues come Monday. Fortunately, my lovely reader Angela returned to the restaurant with her whole family which made my day a whole lot sweeter, thank you again!

If you are looking for evidence of Thai influence in Nyonya cooking especially that of Penang, look no further than the huge array of kerabu (cold salad) dishes on offer. The Nyonyas borrowed the concept of yam (Thai salad) from neibouring Thailand and turned it into something uniquely Nyonya, using mainly local and Chinese ingredients and a sambal belacan based dressing.

Like their Thai cousin, kerabu is a refreshing addition to a Nyonya meal and helps to cut through the many rich dishes of the cuisine. 

There are a few terrific kerabu dishes that I want to share with you in the coming weeks but I shall start off with this Nyonya classic using wood fungus and tender poached chicken breast that is nothing short of a texture and taste haven. Each explosive bite reveals the complexity of such a simply prepared dish, it is a perfect summer dish that will go well as part of a Malaysian meal or a snack with a few cold beers.

F.Y.I - bok nee = (木耳) wood fungus in Hokkien, unlike Nyonya dishes from other part of the country, those from Penang are often named in the Hokkien dialect rather than Malay.

Announcement! -I officially left my job on the 10th of August 2013 having spent almost 10 months cooking the food that I know and love best. Unfortunately the lack of support from skilled staff and management's direction (or the lack of it)  for the restaurant had made my position untenable.

It is all good on my end; my new job does not required me to work on nights or weekends and it is only a 10 minute bike ride from home leaving me plenty of time to cook and blog again! 

serves 4 as part of a Malaysian meal
you'll need;
1 chicken breast (~350 g), poached, cooled and shredded
1/2 a cup of wood fungus, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 ginger flower, removed petals and sliced finely
6 tbs of desiccated coconut, dry fried until golden
1 stalk of coriander, picked (optional)

for the dressing;
4 tbs of sambal belacan (see below)
1/2 a very juicy lime
3 tbs of sugar
a pinch of salt

sambal belacan;
200 g of dried chilies
80 g of toasted belachan
salt and sugar to taste

To poach the chicken - bring a pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt, place the chicken breast into the pot, when the water return to a simmer, cover and turn off the heat. Remove the pot from the heat source and allow the chicken breast to steep for 20 to 25 minutes. When it is done, remove the chicken breast from the pot and allow to cool, hand shred into fine slivers.

Remove all the large petals from the ginger flower and finely slice with a sharp knife.

Finely slice the shallot.

For the kerisik - dry fry the desiccated coconut in a pan over moderate heat, stirring constantly until it turns golden, 

For the dressing - place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, you might want to adjust the seasonings according to your taste.

Have all ingredients ready and you are almost there.

Place all ingredients together with the dressing in a large bowl and mix well. Check for seasonings before serving.

Serve as part of a Malaysian meal or it will go very well as a snack with some cold beers.

The crazy season has started, we decided a combined Nov/Dec roundup should work better for everyone during the busiest period of the year. I will be hosting the next event, so please send all your entries to me at . To find out more about MMM and on how to enter please click here


  1. I can imagine the lovely aroma of ginger bud mingle with the spices. The wood ear fungus would have provided a nice texture to the dish. Yum!

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  3. Interesting recipe! I've always wondered what exactly it was that makes Penang food distinct from the other parts of Malaysia (in a good way). Can def taste it but hard to describe. Glad you explained the presence of the Thai influence in the Penang dishes. Love it! I was there for a week earlier this year and couldn't get enough of the street food. And thanks so much for adding me to your blogroll! What a pleasant surprise. Hope you enjoy the rest of your week =)

  4. made this for my parents last night and they were still raving about it today! Great dish and thank you!

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