Chicken and Black Fungus Kerabu

September 6, 2008

When you have three bottles of sambal, what do you do? Why, you make kerabu, of course!

Kerabu. What is it?

It’s essentially an orchestra of flavors in the form of a salad that is popular between two neighboring countries – Malaysia and Thailand. Ingredients in kerabu varies but the rule is that it must have a balance of flavors, which is key. The flavors includes sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

Kerabu is popular mainly in the northern states of the Malaysian peninsula where it borders Thailand. As such, the kerabus in Malaysia and Thailand are similar.

What I am making is Chicken and Black Fungus Kerabu; a very common Nyonya salad with a large Thai influence. I have posted before my grandaunty’s recipe for Kerabu Bok Nee in my previous posts before but because I didn’t have some of the ingredients, I did some substitution. After consulting with my dad, it seems that making kerabu largely depends on one’s taste so substitution of ingredients is not uncommon as long as the balance of flavors are there. Bok Nee is the same as Black Fungus, fyi.

Kerabus are notoriously good with rice. If you are eating rice with kerabu, your sense of being full becomes skewed. For some reason, you’re in your second bowl of rice and you feel like you could have another helping! So, beware, foodies, kerabu is very addictive and low in fat but the amount of rice you have with it might negate that fact :)

So on to my version of Chicken and Black Fungus Kerabu.

1/8 cup of dried black fungus, rehydrated in cold water for 2 hours
1 whole boneless chicken breast, steamed to cook
Juice of 2-3 limes
1/4 cup of fried crispy shallots (see picture below)
1/2 onion, sliced
2 tablespoon of sambal belachan
2 tablespoon of sugar (start with 1 tbsp first and adjust)
1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon of chopped lemongrass
1 bunch of parsley, chopped (or just put in 1 tbsp of parsley flakes for color)

1. Shred your chicken breast with a fork until it’s comes apart in stringy pieces. Slice your black fungus simply into thick julienne strips – don’t worry if they are not uniform.
2. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together. It’s that simple.
5. Now, your kerabu is done and do let it sit for a while (20 mins) to let the flavors marry.

Fried Crispy Shallots

You can keep the kerabu well for up to 4 days in the refridgerator. I realize that after 4 days, it starts to get stale. But up till then, the kerabu tastes better and better before the flavors start breaking down. Don’t ask me why it is the case, it just is! If you should decide to give this Malaysian-Thai style salad a try, I doubt it would last that long in the fridge.
It makes for a great side dish in barbeques.

How do I eat my kerabu? With more sambal of course! Using romaine lettuce it acts like a nice little scoop.

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