Mace is the red, lacy layer wrapped around the seed of the nutmeg fruit. Flattened out and dried, it has a more pungent flavour than nutmeg, and is often used ground or as pieces known as blades in savoury dishes. It adds depth and sweetness to this spicy stew from Manado, Indonesia.
- 2 small potatoes, cut into 2cm pieces
- 5 small Asian red eschalots (see Note), finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
- 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
- 2½ tbsp vegetable oil
- 350 ml fish stock or water
- 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 4 mace blades (see Note)
- 3 cloves
- 60 ml (¼ cup) kecap manis (see Note)
- 4 x 170 g freshwater fish fillets, such as barramundi or perch, skin removed
- pinch of sugar, to taste
- 160 g bean vermicelli (glass noodles) or rice stick noodles, soaked in boiling water for 2 minutes
- coriander sprigs, sliced cucumber and sliced red bird’s-eye chillies, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cook potatoes in pan of boiling salted water for 8 minutes or until just tender. Drain and set aside.
Place eschalots, garlic, ginger and chilli in a food processor and process to a paste.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add paste and cook for 3 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Add stock, tomatoes, mace and cloves, and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in kecap manis, then add fish and cook for 5 minutes. Add reserved potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes or until fish is just cooked. Add sugar and season.
Drain noodles and divide among serving bowls. Ladle over stew, then scatter over coriander, sliced cucumber and sliced chillies.
• Asian red eschalots and kecap manis are available from Asian food shops and select grocers.
• Mace blades are available from spice shops and Asian food shops.
Photography Brett Stevens. Styling Justine Poole.
As seen in Feast magazine, September 2014, Issue 35.