Malay Barbecued Game Hens with Sweet Spicy Li
Makes about 3½ cups or rempah
- 6 Cornish game hens
- 10 kaffir lime leaves, or fresh lime leaves
- 6 candlenuts, soaked in water for 10 minutes, or substitute skinless almonds, or macadamias
- 5 stalk fresh lemon grass, trimmed, sliced
- 10 large shallots, peeled and halved, or 2 onions
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled, halved
- 8 red jalapeno chiles, stemmed,seeded
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 13½ oz coconut milk
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Cut hens in half, lengthwise.
- Pierce birds all over with a fork; set aside in a large deep bowl.
- The rempah: fold the lime leaves in half, then tear off the central vein.
- Cut the leaves into very fine shreds; set aside.
- Combine the candlenuts, lemon grass, shallots, garlic, chiles and turmeric in a blender or food processor; process into a smooth paste.
- If needed, add a tablespoon or so of water to facilitate the blending.
- Pour the spice paste into a large bowl.
- Before opening, shake the can of coconut milk well.
- Then stir the coconut milk into the spice paste along with the sugar, salt and lime leaf shreds; mix thoroughly.
- Pour 1½ cups of the rempah over the birds; marinate at least 30 minutes.
- Reserve remaining marinade.
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Remove hens from marinade and scrape off excess marinade.
- Place hens skin-side up on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let birds remain in oven for 5 minutes longer.
- Remove from the oven.
- Meanwhile, set a wok over medium heat.
- Add the oil and the reserved rempah.
- Gently fry the paste, stirring frequently, until it emulsifies with the oil.
- Continue frying until fragrant and the mixture takes on a rich orange color and a porridge-like consistency, about 8 minutes.
- The rempah is ready when the oil seeps from mixture and has an orange hue (spoon off and discard excess oil) keep sauce warm.
- Grill birds over glowing red coals until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
- Pour the sauce over the hens and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime.
- The ⅓ cup vegetable oil is "necessary" to get the right result so don't skimp.
- To make the rempah, add the hardest ingredients to the food processor or blender first and then the rest in order of softness. A smooth paste is what you should end up with.
- Just prior to frying the rempah, you can fry up some fresh chile paste to give the dish some zing. I'd use sambal oelek for this or the Vietnamese tuong ot toi.