Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Nasi Kerabu - Kelantan Dish 1

Nasi Kerabu happens to be my most favorite rice dish ever. I have this ex-colleague of mine name Jeff who used to live in Kampung Baru and I will get him to tapau (take out) for me every week. I've always wanted to make nasi kerabu but when I look at the long list of ingredients and the amount of afford putting into making a dish I tend to forgo it. Being overseas doesn’t help either as it can be quite difficult for me to get some of the ingredients but because of this MFF event I don't mind spending a few hours in the kitchen to cooked this meal as it is all worth it. The meal turns out great.
One of the key ingredients in Nasi Kerabu is the fish, specifically Mackerel. I was so confident I could head down to the Asian supermarket and buy some Mackerel, little did I know there is no such thing as a simple Mackeral here in the USA! I was confronted with Atlantic Mackeral, Pacific Mackerel, Indian Mackerel etc. I had no idea which one to buy as none looked familiar to me as they were huge..almost as long as my arm, I kid you not! The fish that I'm familiar with that normally accompanies my Nasi kerabu were all cute looking and petite. That’s just the first problem I faced. The second problem was that I could not find any budu (salted / fermented anchovy sauce). Nasi kerabu without budu is like Nasi Lemak without the Sambal or teh Tarik without the froth. You can do it but it's just not the same. These all changed when my good friend gave me half a bottle of budu brought all the way back from Terengganu. I just had to make this Nasi Kerabu by hook or by crook. No more excuses!

Not many people know that Nasi Kerabu comes in a few colors other than blue although blue is the most popular color. Variations can be white (normal white rice), yellow (turmeric and cekur / sand ginger) which is called Nasi Kerabu Tumis and grey (from Mengkudu leaves / noni / Morinda Citrifolia ) which is known as Nasi Kerabu Hitam although blue is also known by the same name. In reality, there are so many different combinations of accompaniments and styles of cooking that it is quite impossible to list them all here. If you are interested, remember 'Google' is your best friend.

Ingredients for the Rice:
Adapted from Betty Saw's Cookbook

420 gm ( 2 1/2 rice cup ) Rice ( I used Basmathi rice )
8 - 10 Butterfly pea flower / blue pea flower / bunga telang, soaked in hot water or a few drops of blue coloring
2 -3 kaffir lime leaves / daun limau purut - optional
1stalk lemongrass, bruised - optional
1 tsp Salt - optional (I did not add )

Wash and drain the rice. Soak the rice with the butterfly pea flower water for 10 minutes (if using) and then put in kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and salt and cook the rice as usual. If you are just using blue coloring, drop a few drops of the color and cook as usual.

Ingredients for Kerisik Sambal Ikan / Coconut Flaked Fish

2 - 3 Chubbs Mackerel / Indian Mackerel / ikan kembung, grilled and flaked
1 skinned Coconut, grated
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar

Ingredients to be ground:

8 Shallots, peeled
2. 5 cm knob ginger, peeled
1/4 tsp ground White pepper

Dry fry the grated coconut until lightly brown. If the grated coconut you are using is a little bit coarser, just pound it lightly to make it finer. Cool completely. Into a mixing bowl, put flaked fish, ground ingredients and kerisik. Add salt and sugar and mix well. Transfer to a serving dish.

Ingredients Coconut Sauce / Sambal Tumis Kelapa

10 dried chillies, soaked with hot water to soften
8 Shallots, peeled
1 litre coconut milk, squeezed from 1 grated coconut with sufficient water added.
2 pcs dried sour fruit / asam gelugur / asam keping
2 stalks Lemongrass / serai, lightly bruised
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt - optional
2 - 3 tbsp Budu / Salted (fermented) anchovy sauce or to taste - optional

1. Combine dried chilies and shallots by grinding or blending in a blender. Into a pot, put coconut milk, ground chilies and shallots, dried sour fruit slices and lemongrass. Bring to a slow boil.
2. Simmer gently, stirring constantly for 10 minutes or until oil separates. However, if you are using canned coconut, the oil will not separate no matter how long you cook. In this instance, just cook until the gravy thickens.
3. Add sugar and salt or budu (whichever one you prefer), then transfer to a serving bowl.

Ingredients for Turmeric Battered Fried Fish / Ikan Goreng Tepung
Source: Shereen's

8 small / medium Chubb mackeral / Indian Mackeral / Kembung
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Tamarind pulp / asam jawa + 2 tbsp Water, strained
Cooking oil


1 cup rice flour / tepung beras
125 ml Water
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
a pinch of Salt

1. Rub fish with salt and tamarind juice. Leave for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare batter. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
2. Dip seasoned fish into batter and fry in hot oil for 2 - 3 minutes on each side. When cooked through and light golden, drain fish and transfer to a serving dish.

Ingredients for Roasted Turmeric Beef / Daging Bakar
Source: Shereen's

300 gm of any tender cut Beef ( I used Sirlion )
2 tsp salt or to taste ( saltier nicer )
2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tbsp Oil

1. Coat the beef with salt and turmeric (if you have the time, marinate for a few hours). Preheat oven at 400 degree F (grill function).
2. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Rub a wire grid with some oil. Rub beef pieces with oil and place onto the oiled grid.
3. Grill for 40 minutes or until the surface looks dry, turning once every ten minutes. Leave beef to cool down and slice thinly to serve.

Other Suggested Accompaniments:

Solok Lada – recipe coming up soon
Salted eggs
Turmeric fried chicken
Fish crackers / keropok ikan

Garnishing (use as many or as few as preferred)

1 cucumber, shredded
3 cabbage leaves, finely sliced (I used this)
a handful of bean sprouts / taugeh
6 long beans / snake beans, finely sliced (I used this)
4 - 5 four angle bean / winged bean / kacang botol
5 - 6 sprigs Polygonum leaves / daun kesum, finely sliced (I used this)
3 kaffir lime leaves / daun limau purut, finely sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, finely sliced (I used this)
1 torch ginger buds / bunga kantan, finely sliced (I used this -frozen)
1 onion, finely sliced
a handful of daun penna
10 young Cashew nuts leaves / pucuk gajus, finely sliced

To serve:

Put some rice onto individual serving plates, then pile on desired amounts of Coconut Flaked Fish, Coconut sauce and garnishing ingredients. Mix well with rice. Serve with side dishes / accompaniment.

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest, Kelantan Month hosted by My Kitchen Snippets


PH said...

Gertrude, this is fantastic! I wanted to cook this but was intimidated by the long list of ingredients too. But I will cook it by this month! Thanks for the motivation :)

Shereen said...

Gosh! This makes me crave for Nasi Kerabu!!! Very good write up you have yesterday for the introduction to Kelantan's food.

suituapui said...

Ooooo...Shereen, the nice one in Sibu is waiting for you. Can eat there...and request for extra air budu. Hehehehehe!!!! No air budu for yours, Gert?

lena said...

hi gert, this is such a wonderful nasi kerabu dish! i know i will love all the ulams..i see if i want to make nasi kerabu, might skip some of the ingredients..

K.Nor said...

mmg nor tabik la kat u or yg duduk oversea kalau buat nasi kerabu complete set gini. nor yg duk malaysia ni, dgn bahan2 semua ada mmg tak rajin sungguh nak buat nasi kerabu. mcm u kata la list tu panjang berjela. rela tapau jer hehehe

nasi kerabu gert ni mmg complete set betul! siap dgn ikan celup tepung, solok lada dan daging bakar.. perghhhh.. mmg syok abis tu.. 2 thumbs up! :)

actually ada satu lg missing, biasanya ada yg makan dgn jeruk bawang putih, tp nor tak suka :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Gert!

Haven't ate this for ages. Make me drooling by looking at your nice presentation. By the way, where did you get your "Bunga Kantan". I didn't know they have it in the states

Thanks for sharing.


Esther Lau said...

what a delicious nasi kelabu!!!! I am going to cook some kelantan dish to support you on this MFF Kelantan month too, cheers !!!! :)

Mel said...

Wow, wow, wow, wow!! A good pat for cooking this and it is not easy as there are so many things to prepare and cook. And I am admiring that turmeric beef, it must be very flavourful and tasty.

Elin Chia said...

Wow, this is nice. Nasi Kerabu is a favourite with the Perakian too. We have this for our office function too :) I will cook something Kelantan too..hopefuly it will turn out good :)

Unknown said...

wowww its yummmy...jealous la tengok...lengkap ye set nasi ni kan..

Tengkubutang said...

waaaaaaa... i love Nasi Kerabu!!

done follow sini.. jom follow n singgah blog teman.. heee.. http://tengkubutang.blogspot.com/

klu minat kucen leh follow blog ni jugak.. =)

Anonymous said...

wow..so amazing
i org kelantan pun tk rajin nk buat complete set mcm ni.

ur abang carlos blh makan nasi ni tk??

congrats gert!!!!


Anonymous said...

Now this is one dish that I have never heard of. Now that I have, I will probably know to try this if I visit Kelantan. I have enjoyed your post on Kelantan. thanks!

Sarah said...

What a spread. Feast fit for a king.

Unknown said...

I also wish to cook this for this month. Hopefully I can make it....

Textbook said...

Looks so nice! You think you can make for me if I come and visit?

Textbook said...

Textbook = Simon. Hehehehehe

Wordsmith said...

Wow... Looks wonderful !

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Gert, your nasi Kerabu is very impressive and you made so many side dishes. If I make this, don't think I can make so many side dishes..hehehe..

Anonymous said...

I am from Kelantan, now in Bay area. For us, we used the fermented fish sauce from Thailand. It taste the same as budu from Kelantan.

ICook4Fun said...

Phong Hong, thank you. Looking forward to your posting.

Shereen, with your talent cooking this is not a problem at all :)

Arthur, the budu is in the gravy.

Lena, ya you can do the simple version.

Nor, what to do kan. Kat Malaysia boleh beli saja kat sini mana lah nak cari. Nak buat ni pun kena cari ingredients for a few days. I tahu ada jeruk bawang tapi tak suka so serve with it :)

Yen, I bought some frozen bunga kantan when I was in New York last month. You can get it from the Thai/Indonesian store at Manthatan Chinatown. Let me know if you want to go there and I can give you the address.

Esther, thank you for your support and looking forward to your submissions.

Mel, thank you. It is a lot of work but all worth it. We enjoyed eating it :)

Elin, thank you for your support. Looking forward to it :)

ICook4Fun said...

Norzila, tak payah jealous. You pun boleh buat ni :)

Tenku butang, thanks.

Norma, thank you. Abang Carlos I kalau nasi dia makan jugak. Ini macam nasi campur with salad and ada daging lagi which is his favorite. So ok jugak dia tapi jangan lah masak ni hari hari ha ha... kasihan dia bulan ni makan banyak masakan Kelantan.

Joesphine, thank you.

Sarah, thank you.

Angelina Ong, thank you for your support.

Textbook, your wife is a better cook than me. Get her to cook it for you ha ha...

DZ, thanks.

Sonia, thank you. You can make the simple version minus the solok and the daging.

Anon, I saw bottles of fermented fish sauce from Thailand but not sure there are the same or not. Now that you told me it is the same I might get a bottle when the one I have finish.

Moi said...

This all looks completely amazing!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the info regarding the Bunga Kantan.


JoanL said...


I have enjoyed your postings. I love the beautiful blue rice. Where in NYC did you find your bunga kantan?


ICook4Fun said...

JoanL, I got mine from Asia Market Corp
71 1/2 Mulberry St
Manhattan, NY 10013

and a friend of mine got hers here
Topline Meat Market
8137 Broadway
Elmhurst, NY 11373

Elika said...

Your Nasi Kerabu is very impressive! by the way, where did you get the bunga telang here in the US? thanks :)

ICook4Fun said...

Elika, a friend of mine gave me some and I planted some too 2 years ago. So I kept some dried flowers too.