Saturday 8 December 2012

Cincalok Omelette - Nyonya Fried Eggs with Fermented Shrimp

This dish is at risk of almost disappearing into complete obscurity due to it's deceptive simplicity. Not surprising as the main ingredient, Cincalok, is almost near impossible to get hold of outside Southeast Asia. Personally I have not had this since I last went back to Malaysia to visit my Nan who always seemed to have a never ending supply of this pungent stuff.

Cincalok is made by fermenting tiny shrimps, known as gerago/geragau, in salt and cooked rice in a sealed container for a few days, resulting in a pongy (in a good way), salty and sharp condiment. It is rather similar to the Philippino's Bagoong which is much more widely available in London but however, they have very different taste. In a traditional Peranakan household, this will sometime be served as a cincalok sambal to pair with rice. This is also frequently used to jazz up some beautiful fish dishes but out of all these options, it is this simple omelette that struck a chord in me as it stirred up fond memories of my childhood.

Now you'll be wondering how on earth did I managed to snag myself a bottle of this elusive condiment? Well, it all started very innocently on the world of twittersphere. My friend, Yolanda of the Wild Serai supperclub tweeted photo of bottles of these pinkish cincalok and that sent me into a hyper ventilating frenzy. I was so excited at the sight of them that after a few exchanges, mostly of me going Ooo, Aah, and Wah on the social media platform, she very kindly offered to pass on a bottle to me. And so the dodgy dealing took place outside an undisclosed tube station, secret handshake and code word were exchanged and within minutes, a bottle of this treasure descend into my hands. Along with this was the brilliant suggestion of making this cincalok omelette and who am I to refuse on finally able to conjure up this delicious childhood snack of mine. It might look simple but if like me, the mere mention of cincalok get you burst with excitement, this will no doubt pleased the inner Baba (or Nyonya if you are a female) in you.

The squeeze of lime is completely optional but the sambal belacan, however, is mandatory. After all,  no self respecting Peranakan will be seen dining without this important condiment.


3 medium free-range egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp cincalok
1 tsp light soy sauce 
freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, sliced
2 red chilles, sliced into rings (deseed if you want it milder)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 lime (optional)

sambal belacan, to serve


Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the cincalok, soy sauce and black pepper and mix well.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and chillies and cook for 2-3 minutes, until soften. 

Pour in the beaten egg mixture. Using a spatula, move the egg around quickly and allow the egg to set. Flip the omelette and cook for another minute until nicely brown. Remove and slice into bite size, squeeze over some lime juice if you like and serve immediately with sambal belacan.

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