Thursday, 19 September 2013

Tasty dried, lightly salted lampan

I love experimenting with that I can do to the fish we produce at the farm.  Since our water source is from the river upstream, all kinds of river fish enter the pond so when we "process" the pond, we always get surprises.  Previously, I had place some "lampam jawa" which did very well in the pond.  I think the flowing, fresh river water had a lot to do with it along with what we feed them - they love the green stuff.  It appears that some river lampam had also entered into the pond and now I have cross-bred lampam.
Lampam is a fish with many bones - I think of it as the fresh water "terubok".  It has high fat content so from my experiments, I find it almost impossible to have a really bone-dry fish but what will result is the fish oil will come out and leave the fish moist-like. 

This fish can grow to be big, sometime more than 1 kg in less than 1 year.  This time around I opted to use the smaller sized ones (3-4 inches long) to create a "crispier" fish when fried.  At the same time, since the population of the lampam had dramatically increased, this allowed me to reduce the population helping ensure the total fish population in the next round will flourish.
Each fish was cleaned, removing the scales and innards. and rinsed with water.  Since I use clean, river water, no pollutants or chemicals were introduced to the fish.  I added coarse salt to the rinse water for two reasons: to act as a natural cleanser and to have a natural "preservative".  The fish has a subtle salty taste which for some, would mean having to add more salt and for those who prefer to maintain a low-salt diet, they would not need to soak the fish to try and remove the salt.
For me, in ensuring that you produce good quality dried fish, it is important
to have the ability to dry the fish in an environment where it will not be exposed to flies which will lay eggs on the fish and the maggots will eat the fish flesh as it develops - all these in a couple of days.  At the farm, we have constructed a dryer box which enables us to dry the fish and keeping all those pesky flies away.

Once dried, they can be kept for months, longer if kept in a cool and dry location.  We pack them with a dessicant which helps to keep the moisture away.
There are many ways that you can prepare this dried fish.  You can fry it until it is crispy and serve with some lime or calamansi juice squeezed over the too, cook it with a chilli paste and other condiments to create a sambal similar to sambal ikan bilis (anchovies), cooked in a curry, fried with onion rings, and many other ways.  You are only limited by your imagination.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Key Lime

I love citrus fruits either used as a flavoring for dishes or making drinks.  At the farm, we have planted a few varieties including key lime or limau nipis (botanical name: citrus aurantifolia) grows well in tropical climates.  Locally, this fruit is often used to flavor dishes such as laksa, curries and also to make drinks.  Many people are also familiar with key lime pie of which the key ingredient is the key lime.

We planted a few trees and from the baby plants to fruiting, it took about 2 years.  Growing it has been a challenge because there are some pests that just love to eat the leaf shoots, most often the caterpillar.  Every few months, I will prune the tree to encourage growth of new shoots and flowering.  The trees can grow to around 5m tall so by keeping it pruned, I can better control the growth of the tree.  It has thorns on the stems so be careful when you are handling the tree.  Continued maintenance will help ensure that the tree fruits around the year.

The fruit has a tart flavor with a slight bitterness.  It has a relatively high level of vitamin C with traces of iron, calcium and niacin.  The therapeutic value of the juice is purported to be to help detoxify the liver as well as a blood cleanser.  Some have mixed it with honey to help with sore throat and the common cold.  The juice of this fruit is also often used in beauty and hair treatments.  It can be applied to the face as an astringent and to help tighten open facial pores and reduce facial oil.  It is also often used as an ingredient in cleansers.  I have used a mixture of the key lime, including its skin, with water and sprayed it as an odor eliminator leaving a nice citrus fragrance.