Kerabu Bok Hnee – Spicy Fungus and Chicken Salad
Kerabu making is part and parcel of Penang Peranakan cooking, owing much to the influence from Thai cooking. I love love love Kerabu Kacang Botol for the crunch which the winged beans have, on top of the freshness they render without any hint of the harsh rawness which some vegetables have. It is for the same reasons that I like Kerabu Bok Hnee as well! 木耳 Bok Hnee is the Hokkien anglicisation of “cloud ear fungus“, to literally mean “wooden ear” owing much to its appearance. It is a very common ingredient used in Chinese cooking and typically comes in two forms. The “white” form 白木耳 which is actually more translucent is softer and has an almost jelly-like consistency, thus making it very suitable for desserts. The “black” form 黑木耳 is more resilient to cooking and thus lends textural contrast to accompany vegetables dishes like Nyonya Chap Chye where the rest of the vegetables are cooked until very soft.
In Kerabu Bok Hnee, the crisp textures of the julienned fungus together with the heat and tang from the sambal belacan dressing makes this dish a good accompaniment for a hearty noodle dish like Penang Lam Mee or Sneh Jit Mee. Or simply add a handful of blanched beehoon (rice vermicelli) or tang hoon (mung bean vermicelli) and you have a complete meal! The versatility of Kerabu making is really the essence to its popularity. Strangely, Kerabus are not a big thing in the southern Straits Chinese cooking. But it is precisely this that makes it uniquely Penang Peranakan.
Kerabu Bok Hnee (serves 2-3) (recipe from Nonya Flavours – A Complete Guide to Penang Straits Chinese Cuisine)
50g dried bok hnee (dried black cloud fungus)
300g chicken meat (without bone)
1/2 bunga kantan (torch ginger blossom)
2 bawang merah (shallots)
1 generous tbsp kerisik (toasted grated coconut)
4-5 limau katsuri (calamansi lime)
1-2 tbsp sambal belacan (belacan chilli)
1-2 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste as required)
1/2 tsp salt (adjust to taste as required)
For preparation of kerisik and sambal belacan, please refer here. They can be made in large batches and stored in a chiller to be used as required.
Reconstitute bok hnee in water for about 15-20 min. Julienne into long thin strips and discard the hard parts.
Peel bawang merah and slice thinly. Set aside for later use. Do the same for bunga kantan.
Blanch chicken meat in boiling water until JUST cooked. drain and set aside to cool. Shred finely.
To prepare dressing, squeeze the juice of limau katsuri into a small bowl and add sambal belacan, sugar and salt. Mix until sugar and salt dissolves. Adjust taste accordingly to own preference for more sweetness, tang or heat with more sugar, lime juice or sambal belacan.
To assemble, place bok hnee strips and shredded chicken on a plate. Drizzle with sambal belacan dressing and sprinkle kerisik as well as sliced bawang merah and bunga kantan.
Serve immediately and toss to homogenise all the components before eating.
Penang Hoon Kuih
Penang Lok Bak 槟城香炸滷肉卷
Kerabu Kacang Botol – Spicy Winged Bean Salad
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Penang Jiu Hu Char
Malaysian Food Fest PENANG – Introduction
Penang Char Koay Teow 槟城炒粿条
Penang Otak Otak
On Peranakan food and culture…
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Babi Ayam Pongteh
Ayam Buah Keluak – A Revisit…
2nd Anniversary Cooking Class @ ToTT – Ayam Buah Keluak with Chef Malcolm Lee
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Kerabu Belimbing Timun Nanas
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Ayam Buah Keluak
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Nyonya Chap Chye
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Nyonya Apom Balik Durian
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Itek Tim
Makanan in Melaka 2011 – a Delightful Sampling
Melaka Getaway Dec 2011
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Pengat Durian
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Sambal Jantung Pisang
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Sambal Udang Belimbing
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Ikan Gerang Asam
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Nyonya porcelain ware @ the Peranakan Museum
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Babi Pongteh