By: Celine Marbeck
The Cristang cuisine is one of the oldest and least known of Malaysia’s many flavors. It is influenced by a variety of ethnic groups who conquered Malacca, settled there, and left their cultural and gastronomic traits behind. Celine Marbeck can be considered the queen of Cristang cuisine. She has promoted Cristang cuisine at home and abroad since 1998. Over the past decade, she has successfully presented demonstrations in four countries on three continents, written three books – in English, Malay and Dutch and presented her cuisine on television. Here she shares a great summer dish: Caldu Pescador, or fisherman’s soup!
Recipe Caldu Pescador
Fisherman’s Soup, is an enormously satisfying dish in its simplicity, the soup was traditionally cooked right on the beach itself, by hungry fishermen returning with their hard-won catch. To keep up their strength for the long day ahead, they laced it with a jigger of brandy. Caldu Pescador is still cooked the traditional way during the Feast of St Peter (“Festa San Pedro”, in the local Cristang dialect, usually observed on 29th June), the Patron Saint of Fishermen.
Ingredients (serves 4):
400 g (12 to 15) medium sized prawns
1 tbsp coarse salt (or sea salt)
200 g white fish fillet
300 g (10) fresh squid
1 tsp tamarind pulp
91/2 cups of water
3 slices of dried tamarind
2 cloves of garlic
5 shallots or 1/2 onion peeled and chopped roughly
3 stalks lemon grass (bruised)
2 fresh red chillies (halved lengthwise)
2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice (optional)
1 stalk coriander leaves
Wash prawns; trim off feelers and legs, leaving heads and shells intact. Rub coarse salt to remove any slime and odour, leave for 5 mins. Rinse well and drain.
Carefully pull tentacles and heads away from bodies of squid and discard. Remove innards and any cartilaginous matter. Rub and peel off thin skin. Wash bodies well, taking care to rinse out cavaties. Slit bodies open and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Cut fish fillet into cubes.
Soak tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup of the warm water for 5 mins and extract the juice by squeezing the tamarind into another bowl.
How to make Caldu Pescador:
1. Bring remaining 9 cups of water to boil in a large (about 4 litres) pot.
2. Put in dried tamarind slices, garlic, shallots and lemon grass and boil for 3 mins.
3. Lower heat, add tamarind juice and simmer for 10 mins.
4. Add chillies and simmer for a further 2 mins.
5. Add squid and cook for 1 min. Put in prawns and cook for 3 mins. Do not overcook. Remove from heat the squid (when tender) and prawns (when pink).
6. Add fish and cook for 5 mins.Taste and add lime or lemon juice if desired.
7. Add the prawns and squid back to the soup when ready to serve. Garnish with coriander leaves.
Enjoy your Caldu Pescador while it’s hot!