BY SOFIAH SCHUETZENBERGER . SINGAPORE . ASIA
As a child, the sound of the pestle hitting the mortar brought about the curiousness and excitement of what is in store for the next meal.
The almost fairytale like fish, it flies through the water, it’s mouth on the underside of it’s head, almost making it look like a smiley face! Only the fin is used, it’s meat silky and smooth and it’s easy to eat because there are no bones, just cartilage.
Fiery dried chillies, pearl like shallots, aromatic dried prawns, fragrant lemongrass, fresh chilli paste and the pungent fermented prawn paste are all pounded together to make the sambal.
The true aroma of what might become of this dish permeates through the house as the sambal is being sautéed.
The stingray, which has been marinated in tamarind paste and salt, waits for the sambal to be tucked into the slits in it’s flesh specially made to embody some of the sambal with the rest being generously spread on it’s fin.
The banana leaf changes its pliability as steam rises when hot water is poured over it to make it soft enough to wrap the stingray in.
After a few minutes over a bed of charcoal or griddle, the leaf then unwraps revealing a simple but memorable dish.