I can't believe it but this was my first time cooking with turmeric. If you have been following my blog, you may notice that I have been delving more into the world of fragrant spices mainly due to my newfound interest in making curries from scratch. There are many decent store-bought curry pastes but honestly there's nothing like making your own, at least for me. This was of course something I did not realise until I started to make my own. The bright orange shade of the curry comes mainly from the mixture of the red chilli peppers and the yellow turmeric powder. Turmeric is very pungent and to be honest when I first took a whiff I was a little doubtful as I'm not a fan of certain spices like say star anise. I know, weird but no one in my family likes star anise, maybe it's just hereditary!
Anyway, apart from adding vibrant colour, the turmeric provides a hint of slightly gingery fragrance to the curry. Apart from turmeric, I was 'introduced' to yet another spice, candlenuts or known as 'buah keras' in Malay. I know, nothing ground-breaking but I was so excited as it was my first time cooking with all these exotic spices. I did indulge today as I used heavy coconut milk in the curry and seriously it's alright once in a while. The coconut milk adds an unbeatable fragrance and creamy texture to the curry which will be rather difficult to exactly replicate with natural yoghurt although the latter is still a good substitute especially if you're counting calories.
I always like to add a tiny splash of light soy sauce to curries even though it's not the 'conventional' thing to do but do give it a try the next time you make curry, it really brings out the savoury flavours of the dish and makes the curry more 'full-bodied' for lack of a better term. I can't take credit for this however, this is a little tip from mom :O
Recipe adapted from Feminine Chinese Magazine
10 whole squid
50 ml water
100 ml thick coconut milk
3 tbsps cooking oil or more if needed
2 stalks lemongrass, white parts smashed with a cleaver/ heavy knife
4 fresh red chilli peppers
10 dried red chilli peppers
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp light soy sauce, or to taste
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
To prepare the squid:
Rinse well and twist the tentacles portion from the body. It should come out easily and whole. Wash the inside of the sac and remove the cartilage inside. Wash the sac well and remove the slimy substance inside. Peel off the skin as well - this will make for better presentation. With the tentacles, shave off the eyes and cut off the slimy substance if any. Rinse well and tuck back into the sac.
Pound the ingredients above for the paste in a mortar and pestle until well blended. Alternatively, use a food processor or grinder. Set aside.
To cook the curry:
Heat up a wok until hot. Add about 4 tbsps of cooking oil. Once hot, turn heat to medium and add in the lemongrass. Add in the paste above and stir-fry until aromatic.
Place the squid into the wok and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add in the water. Bring to a boil. Remove squid and place on a platter. Set aside.
Add in the coconut milk and bring to a boil again. Now place the squid back into the wok to simmer at low heat for about 2 minutes. Add seasoning. Do a taste test and add more soy if desired. Turn heat to medium and allow to simmer with the wok covered for another 3 minutes. Remove cover and turn heat to high and quickly stir-fry the squid for about 30 seconds. Turn heat off. Dish out.