Monday, September 15, 2008

Widening My Cooking Horizons

I had to ask what Indonesian cooking was? I feel so embarrassed for admitting that I get confused between Thai food, Indonesian food, Chinese food, Japanese Food, etc. If someone was to ask me what dish went to which ethnic origin, well, I would probably look right back at you, glassy eyed. . .as if I never even heard the question.

Indonesian food is still not much easier for me now that I have made a full dinner BUT I have acquired some fun new cooking products. I found out that Kecap Manis, pronounced KEH-chuhp MAH-nees, is an Indonesian sauce that is a lot like a sweet soy sauce. My electronic scales that converts ounces to grams was my best friend during my cooking adventure. I can not believe just how long it takes to make a recipe when measurement conversions are not done ahead of time. This also leaves a larger window for making an error. The dinner took 2 nights to prepare all the ingredients before cooking. . . and this was suppose to be an easy Indonesian dinner. Go figure! I would say that people who cook Indonesian food regularly having excellent chopping skills.

Dinner consisted of:
Nasi Goreng ~ Indonesian Fried Rice
Indonesian Beef Sate's with a hot Peanut Sauce for Dipping
Gado Gado ~ Indonesian Vegetable Salad
Atjar Bening ~ Mixed Vegetable Pickle. . .which is still pickling so I don't know what it tastes like yet.

Nasi Goreng is a delicious fried rice with prawns and chicken along with red chili peppers, onions, and fried egg strips. I found all recipes on when I decided that this was going to be my next adventure.

350 gr. Long Grain Rice
2 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
3 Eggs
1 Onion
2 Green Chillis, Sambal Ulek or Sambal Badjak.
1 Garlic Clove
1 Leek
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
250 gr. Chicken meat
250 gr. Shelled Prawns
3 Tbs. Kecap Manis

This dish is best made from cold leftover rice, but you can cook a fresh batch and leave it to cool for at least 4 hours. Beat the eggs and make into a omelet, slice into strips and set aside.Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the chopped onion, leek, garlic and chillies. Fry until the onion is soft. Add the Coriander and Cumin. Slice Chicken into strips and add with the prawns to the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally until they are well mixed. Add the rice, soya sauce and omelet strips and cook for a further 5 minutes.Decorate with some of the leftover leek and serve hot. Enjoy.

The Indonesian Beef Sate with Peanut Dipping Sauce is as good as the wine used for marinating. I used a Zinfandel and allowed the beef to marinate over night. Dang, I just remembered I forgot to serve an artisan loaf of 3 cheese French Bread with this dinner. I knew I forgot something.

For the Sate's:
500 gr. of Beef, Pork or Chicken
For the marinade:
1 Onion
1 Garlic clove
30 ml Kecap Manis
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
1 teaspoon Cummin powder
1 stalk Lemon Grass (crushed)
1 teaspoon Sambal Ulek
1 glass red wine (optional) ~ I used 8 ounces
30 ml water

Dice the meat in to 2 cm square cubes and put onto bamboo skewers(about 4 per stick). Combine all the marinade ingredients , except the lemon grass, into a food processor and make into a smooth paste. Poor this over the prepared sate's, add the lemon grass, and leave to marinade for at least 2 hours. Cook the sate's on the barbecue or under the grill for 5 -10 min. until done and serve with Sate dip or hot Peanut Sauce.

The hot Peanut Sauce will have a mild peanut flavor unless you add more peanut butter to the recipe. I like mine tasting like the recipe title, so added an extra tablespoon. I also put the sauce through my food processor to get a smooth dipping sauce consistency.

1 small Onion
3 tablespoons Peanut butter
30 gr Dark Brown Sugar
20 ml Kecap Manis
1 teaspoon Coriander
½ teaspoon Cumin
1 stalk Lemon grass (crushed)
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
1 tablespoon groundnut oil - I used Almond oil here.
1 teaspoon Sambal Ulek
Coconut Milk or Water ~ I use coconut milk and can not taste it in the sauce

Finely dice a small onion. Put the oil in a small saucepan and soften the onion, add all other ingredients except coconut milk/water.Slowly heat on low flame adding liquid as required to make it into a smooth sauce.Remove Lemongrass before serving.

The Gado Gado; Indonesian Vegetable Salad, was a surprising dish that offers leeway for a wide variety of vegetable combinations. I used the vegetables listed in the recipe because I have never tasted the dish prior to making it and wanted to know the authentic flavor first. Fresh vegetable do make a difference in this dish and the peanut sauce drizzled overall with slices of boiled egg on top were wonderful flavor additions. I even crushed Prawn crackers and sprinkled over the vegetables like I would sprinkle crispy croutons over a garden salad. Tasty!

White Cabbage, diced.
Green beans
Bean sprouts
2 Eggs, hard boiled.
Peanut Sauce.
Prawn crackers

Separately boil all the vegetables lightly.Drain and arrange in layers on a dish. Pour the Peanut Sauce over this.Decorate with the sliced egg and tomatoes. Just before serving, sprinkle the crackers over the sauce. Best enjoyed when salad is cooled down slightly.

The Atjar Bening has to be a great vegetable dish because I happen to LOVE pickled vegetables. I think the only way I really could see myself eating a beet would be if the vegetable was pickled. In fact, that sounds pretty good right now =). This recipe is listed as a condiment and the author of the recipe suggests serving this with boiled, white rice. I'm not so sure pickled vegetables sound appetizing with rice of any kind. Alone, yes.

1 cucumber
1 big carrot
2 big onions
3 red chillies
1 small cabbage
½ cup water
1 cup vinegar
½ cup sugar
salt & pepper to taste

1. Peel, wash and slice all the vegetables except the cabbage.

2. Wash and shred the cabbage.

3. Rub salt into all the vegetables, in a large bowl. Leave covered for 3 hours.

4. Boil water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Remove from flame and cool.

5. Wash salt off vegetables. Put them into cooled solution and store in bottles.

6. Serve with boiled white rice and other dishes. This will keep in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks.

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