" 'Keo' Masak Belanda" - a simple but tasty and unique dish of aubergine and prawns.


The literal translation for the name goes like this: 'Keo or Kio' (Hokkien Chinese language) = Aubergine / Brinjal / Eggplant; 'Masak' (Malay) = cook; 'Belanda' (Malay) = Dutch.  Probably you may be confused with this mix and wonder about the origin of this dish.  I am not able to help much either but as far as I know, this used to be one of the dishes that my late mother often cooked and enjoyed.  I have been trying to find out from the people outside of my family if any has eaten or knowledge of it but so far have been unsuccessful. So, is it Eurasian, Nyonya, Penang food or my mother's creation?  I don't know yet.  Even my family does not know.

I had watched my mother cooking this dish many times but did not take note of the exact ratio of each ingredient used. When I wanted to cook it later on, I had to recollect and experiment to put it all together. When my aunt tasted the final experimentation, she gave me the thumbs up and I was greatly delighted and encouraged because she was a great fan of my mother's cooking and her approval meant a great deal to me. My aunt is only eight years older and we grew up together under my mother's care after her mother (my mother's stepmother) passed away.  I was unable to understand her position then and treated her like a friend and sibling. When sibling rivalry occurred, there would be fights. However, now that we are adults, I have returned her to her rightful place as an aunt with due respect but the 'friend' part of it is still maintained.

Although the amount of shrimp paste is small but is actually what makes this dish.  In fact, it cannot be substituted with anything else. For those who are averse to shrimp paste, you may want to use fish sauce instead but the taste will definitely be different. I am using the long dark purplish variety of aubergine which is also referred to as brinjal and eggplant.  It is called 'Terung' in the Malay language.


"'Keo' Masak Belanda"
350g aubergine / brinjal / eggplant
150g medium prawns
6 pips garlic
1 shallot
1 fresh red chilli
1 fresh green chilli
10g shrimp paste
250g thin coconut milk
Cooking oil
1/4 tsp salt

Preparation
  • Shell and devein prawns.
  • Mince garlic and shallot.
  • Slice chillies diagonally and thinly.
  • Cut aubergine into 5 cm (2 inches) lengths and then each piece into thick slices.

How to cook
  1. Fry aubergine in heated shallow oil over medium high heat until nicely browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Scoop out some of the oil leaving behind just enough to saute the minced garlic, shallot and sliced chillies for a minute.
  3. Add shrimp paste, saute until aromatic and stir in prawns.  When prawns are nearly cooked, scoop out into a plate and set aside.
  4. Pour in coconut milk, add sautéed aubergine and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer until softened but firm.
  5. Return sautéed prawn mixture to the wok, mix well to cook over high heat for another minute. Season with salt.
  6. Serve with rice.



~Kim~


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