Sunday, April 9, 2017

Kam Heong Crab Angel Hair Pasta

Kam Heong style of cooking originated from Malaysia and with so many Malaysian Chefs honing their cooking skills in restaurants and Tze-Char stalls here, many Kam Heong dishes have been introduced to the local food scene.

I enjoy Kam Heong dishes very much. The ingredients and spices used in Kam Heong sauce like crushed dried shrimps, chili padi (bird’s eye chillies), curry leaves, curry powder, garlic and shallots are already full of strong, captivating smells and long-lasting flavours on their own. When combined together, they create fireworks that really blow up my taste bud. The tempering of aromatics with the ingredients and various other seasonings yields such a versatile stir-fry sauce that goes so well with various meats and seafood. In fact, I can have Kam Heong sauce with plain rice alone. It is that flavourful!

Last Sunday, wife had craving for crab pasta. So there I was at the supermarket picking up ingredients for our pasta dinner when I saw curry leaves and chili padi. They reminded me of the amazing Kam Heong Fish Head I just had few days ago at the Tze-Char stall. A playful idea suddenly came to me to experiment combining Kam Heong sauce with crab pasta!

If you have the luxury of time, boiling fresh crab and extracting the meat would be preferred. I used canned crab meat to save time, not ideal but good enough. The robust Kam Heong aroma and flavor would make up for the canned crab.

Another critical factor that contributes to the success of this dish is not to cook the pasta to al dente in boiling water. I prefer to just soften the noodle but not al dente yet. As a rule of thumb, cook for half the time stated on the pasta packaging. Transfer the “half cooked” pasta to a pan, add prawn broth and continue to cook the pasta until al dente. Add more broth if required, a little at a time. This way, the pasta would slowly absorb the goodness of the broth as it turns al dente. More time consuming with this extra step but trust me you would be rewarded with a more flavourful plate of pasta.

The combination of Kam Heong crab meat and the prawn broth infused angel hair pasta is like a transnational marriage, a cross-cultural union, but to me it is like a marriage made in heaven! Love every mouthful to the last.


Kam Heong Paste
120g dried shrimps (Soaked in warm water, squeezed dry and chopped)
10 stalks curry leaves (remove leaves from stem)
200g shallots (peeled and chopped)
1 bulb garlic (peeled and chopped)
3-4 chili padi (sliced, adjust according to your heat tolerance level)
160ml water (You can use the leftover water for soaking the dried shrimps)
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp curry paste (or curry powder)
5 tbsp cooking oil

Kam Heong Crab Meat
400g crab meat
4-6 tbsp Kam Heong paste (Adjust/Add according to your preference)
2-3 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
Olive oil

Pasta (Serves 4-6)
500g Angel Hair Pasta
Prawn heads and shell from 1kg of prawns
5-6 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
50g butter
Olive oil
1-2 tbsp dry white wine (I recommend unoaked Chardonnay)
Black pepper


Kam Heong Paste

Soak dried shrimps in warm water. When softened, squeeze dry and chop.

Heat up oil a pan. Add chopped dried shrimps. Keep frying until foam starts to form.

Add chopped shallots and garlic. Mix and continue to fry for a couple of minutes.

Add curry leaves and chili padi. Fry for another 1-2 minutes.

Mix well the oyster sauce, soy sauce and curry paste with water.

Add sauce mixture, mix and fry until sauce reduced and mixture becomes paste.

* Kam Heong sauce can be prepared in advance and store in refrigerator.

Kam Heong Crab Meat

Heat up olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add garlic.

Just before garlic become brown, add crab meat and stir-fry for about a minute.

Scoop kam heong sauce into the pan.  Continue to stir-fry until fragrant, about a couple of minute.

Set aside.


Prepare a simple prawn broth.

Melt butter in olive oil in a large pot. Add prawn heads and shell. Increase the heat and fry until prawn heads and shells turn red and very fragrant. Add enough water to just barely cover the prawn heads and shells. Bring to boil,  reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Sieve and discard prawn heads and shell. Put the stock aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook pasta for half the time stated on the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat, add chopped garlic, do not brown.

Drain pasta and add into the sauce pan of garlic. Add a scoop of prawn broth over and cook pasta over medium heat. (DO NOT add all the prawn broth at one go). Keep adding the broth when necessary. Let the pasta absorbs the goodness of the prawn stock as it cooks to al dente. Finish with white wine.

Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Distribute the Angel hair pasta into pasta plates. Top with the Kam Heong crab meat. Serve.

* For those kam heong lovers, you can top the pasta with extra kam heong paste!

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