The weather is still cold and wet outside. It is not getting any better. We will be wet for few more days and possibly weeks. It is hard to feel uplifted in this sort of weather. So to cheer “me-self” (a local Tassie lingual), I thought what better way than to cook a 15-minute “Kari Kay” (in Hokkien, which means Curry Chicken). The hot curry should warm me-self up in this cold wet weather. The beauty is that it is simple to cook and delicious to eat.
Kari Kay is the first Malaysian dish I learnt to cook in the US. I was studying there at that time, shared a 2-bedroom apartment with a fellow Malaysian student. I went to the United States of America in 1980 to study at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. There I saw Bill Clinton (in person), who was the Governor of Arkansas at that time. He was at the university laying the first foundation stone for a new Engineering Building. Damn! He was a very charming and charismatic man.
You don’t have to be a cook to make my student’s version of Kari Kay. The trick is getting the right curry powder to make this authentic looking Penang-style curry chicken. The brand is “AYAM”. It is the only curry powder that I will use to make a quick Penang style curry chicken. It is available in most Asian supermarket. If you live in Hobart, you can find it in Wing & Co, Sandy Bay.
500 gm chicken thigh (cut into small bite pieces)
Cherry tomatoes (6-8)
1 spanish onion (sliced)
250 gm Carnation Milk
3-4 tablespoon AYAM brand curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
salt and sugar
1. Marinade chicken with turmeric powder and a sprinkle of salt (set aside)
2. Heat some cooking oil in a wok (medium heat)
3. Toss in some sliced onion, stir fry for a minute. Add curry and chilli powder. Fry until fragrant (if drying up, add a bit of water)
4. Toss in chicken. Fry chicken until it is nicely glazed in curry paste. Be careful not to over fry chicken or let the paste dried up. Add a can of carnation milk and let chicken simmer gently until cook. Add tomatoes. Add salt and sugar to taste.
To accompany my Kari Kay, I cooked a second dish. “Asam Heh” (in Hokkien, which means Tamarind Prawn) is traditional to Penang’s Straits Chinese home cooking. This is a recipe from my mum. Back home in Penang, the prawn is smaller but very fresh from the wet market, a 5-minute walking distance from mum’s place. In Tasmania, we get fresh prawn (mostly snapped frozen) from mainland (either Queensland or WA).
500 gm Fresh Prawns
1 big pinch of tamarind pulp
1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
Salt and sugar to taste
1. Devein the prawns
2. Soak tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup of water. Extract tamarind juice and mix with dark soy sauce, a bit of salt and sugar to taste
3. Marinade prawns in tamarind juice. Refrigerate overnight.
4. Heat some oil in a wok (high heat). Toss in prawns and quick stir fry until prawns are cooked. Remove from wok.
This dish has a beautiful seafood flavour (from the prawn), sour from the tamarind juice (the sour the better!) and salty. We eat this dish with our hands, so our fingers are covered with tamarind and prawn flavours. Yum – they are finger licking good!