Kitchen Capers

Cencalok Delights

by Alexa P. Photography FriedChillies on Fri, August 13, 2010

Since it’s grago (krill) season we wanted to highlight one of our favourite fermented condiments using the humble shrimp.

Pungent briny deliciousness

Our team was in Melaka last week to film the catching of grago and they were able to score us some delicious high quality cencalok to work with. To make cencalok, the grago are mixed with salt and cooked rice in equal proportions. They are then sealed in jars and then left to ferment for a minimum of three days up to two weeks. After this fermentation period the pungent briny cencalok is ready to consume. This is good just on it’s own with some rice or tossed into an omelette. We decided however to try using it in other preparation methods to see how it would fare. While you may not normally think to marinate your meats with this, we suggest you give it a try because the combination of flavours is certainly something new.

Cencalok Lamb Rack

Inspired by Fatty Cue’s use of cencalok in Brooklyn we decided to do something similar in our own kitchen. This is a simple marinade left to sit with the lamb overnight to infuse it with the briny flavours of the cencalok.

1 lamb rack
2 Tbs cencalok
1 chilli, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 shallots, chopped

Marinate the rack over night in the fridge to coax out the beautiful flavours

Rub the lamb rack with the cencalok, chilli, garlic, and shallots. Put in the fridge to marinate overnight. The next day preheat your oven to 180C. Place the rack on a pan and cover with foil. Cook it covered for 20mins and then take off the foil and continue cooking for another 25mins.

Cencalok Chicken


To some the chicken might taste a bit bland but done well you will have a subtle taste of cencalok with each bite. It's something that will grow on you. Eat it with a cencalok dip for extra kick.

Half a chicken, chopped
1 tbs cencalok
5 Kaffir lime leaves
1/2 turmeric leaf
1 onion, sliced
2 red chillies, sliced
1 lime


Rub cencalok on the chicken and arrange it in a steamer. Tear and scatter kaffir lime leaves and turmeric leaf on top. Steam for about 20-25 minutes until chicken is tender. Before serving scatter chillies and onions on top and squeeze some lime. Alternatively you can steam the chicken on it’s own first and once done toss it with the rest of the ingredients. This gives it a more powerful punch.