Northern Sulawesi Five-Spice Paste Recipe
250 g shallots, peeled and sliced
120 g garlic, peeled and sliced
120 g ginger, peeled and sliced
200 g candlenuts
10-20 bird’s eye chilies, sliced
3 stalks lemon grass, bruised and finely sliced
150 ml vegetable oil
125 ml water
a pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients, except oil, water and salt, in a stone mortar or blender (processor) and grind into a fine paste. Heat oil in a heavy saucepan, then add paste, water and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated and paste is shiny. Leave to cool completely before using or storing.
Note: The people of northern Sulawesi would use substantially more chilies than indicated in this recipe, making their dishes fiery hot. The clean, crisp flavors of this spice paste is delicious when used with pork, chicken and seafood.