What happened? Two babies happened. We are so happy for them, they really light up our days (and night!) They are God sent gift and we couldn’t be more grateful. Moving on, I have received so many emails from blogger friends and fellow Indonesian Chinese cuisine lovers and I must admit that I have not been cooking at all aside from blending mushy food for the babies. It is so easy – they never complain. But of course it would not be forever. I am contemplating on learning cooking Japanese food for them because it seems easy? It seems that way. Any thought?

Moving on to cooking. This pork dish is my favorite. Only a handful of restaurants serve it and then it is not always available. Mother always claims it is so easy to cook. But yeah, she never does until one day she decided it is time to teach me how to. It is so delicious, the gelatinous part of the trotter, the sweet sour and spicy sauce. It is basically a one dish meal.

We got one kg of pig trotter and cut into chunk sizes. Bone, skin, fat and all. Not a fan of anything relating to feet? Get pork belly or something like that. That would be a great substitute. Rub some coarse salt on the meat and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Boil a big pot of water and add the chunks of meat into the boiling water. Blanch for 2-3 minutes and remove. Set aside for later use.

Prep ingredients for the dish. Some chili sauce, tomato sauce, shallots, garlic, bird’s eye chills, fresh tomatoes and tauco (or douchi, fermented and salted soy bean). The chili paste we used was homemade. We blended 200 g of red chili in a blender by adding a little bit of water. If you want the chili sauce to be not too spicy, get rid off the seeds before blending.

Combine fermented soy beans, garlic and shallot in a blender.

Blend till medium fine.

Heat some cooking oil in a thick based wok.

Stir-fry the tauco paste till fragrant, about 3-4 minutes over high heat, till it bubbles.

Don’t forget to stir quickly to avoid burning.

This is another ingredient that I forgot to include in the top image. The Chinese dark soy sauce is used, kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) can be used as substitute, but it is really not the same.

Also cut up the tomatoes.

Back to stir-frying the paste. Keep stirring until the paste thickened.

Add chili paste into the wok. Lower the heat to medium at this point.

Stir-fry until the paste all blended, about 2 minutes.

Add tomato wedges into the wok. Cook till the tomatoes softened, sabot 3-5 minutes over medium heat.

Add the pork into the wok. That kinda rhymes.

Season with dark soy sauce.

A tablespoon of sugar. Or more if you wish.

Some tomato sauce. We used almost half a bottle of tomato sauce.

Stir well until all ingredients combined. Cook over high heat.

Lastly, add bird’s eye chili.

And some hot water.

Lastly, season with salt.

Cook until the sauce boiled up. Remove the dish to a non reactive pan.

Simmer over really low heat for 30-45 minutes. Serve piping hot over steamed rice.

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Pig trotters in tomato sauce

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 kg pig trotters or pork belly, cut into large chunks
15 shallots
5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp fermented and salted soy bean (taocho)
200 g red chili paste
1/2 cup cooking oil
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp salt
1 cup hot water

Directions:

Blend shallots, garlic and taoco into thick paste in a blender.
Heat cooking oil in a wok. Stir fry paste over high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the paste thickened.
Add chili paste and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Add tomato wedges and cook for another minute.
Add chunks of meat into the wok.
Season with dark soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Stir until combined.
Cook over medium heat until boiling.
Remove from wok and put into pot.
Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes.
Serve hot with steamed rice.

Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves

Pepes is the Indonesian dish of any meat, mostly seafood, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. I usually grilled the pepes, the burnt banana leaves just give it a better texture. Any kind of fish can be used, mackerel is always a better choice since the flesh flaked just nicely after grilling.

I have to confess that I hate grilling. Our grill is the old fashioned one with old fashioned charcoal that almost impossibly to light up without a dash of gasoline. Even we would have to fan it using our old fashioned bamboo fan and the charcoal would fly and it is a huge mess. I cheat by grilling this on a grill pan on stove top burner.

This is very easy. Just blend the spices in a blender and smeared the fish with blended spices. Wrap each with banana leaves and fasten the ends with toothpicks. Heat the grill pan and arrange them on top. Put some weight on top so that the fish would be cooked evenly.

Serve these with coconut rice or nasi lemak.

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Grilled fish in banana leaves, ikan pepes

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

1 kg mackerel
8 shallots (50 g)
3 cloves garlic
5 candlenut
10 red chili (50 g)
2 stalks lemongrass
2 cm galangal (30 g)
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cm fresh turmeric
Banana leaves

Directions:

Combine shallots, garlic, candlenut, chili, lemongrass, galangal, coriander seeds, fresh turmeric, salt and sugar in a blender.
Add 1/2 cup of water if necessary. Blend till fine paste.
Combine spice paste and fish in a mixing bowl.
Let marinade for 15-30 minutes.
Wrap fish individually in banana leaves and secure ends with toothpick.
Grill on preheated grill pan for 10 minutes each side.
Serve immediately with steamed rice and pickled cucumber and shallot.

Please click more for step-by-step shots

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I love my dried shrimp sambal. It is me and my mother’s favorite. We could have just the dried shrimp sambal with plain steamed rice. Originally intended for one of the toppings of steamed yam cake, it refrigerates well for a couple of days and doesn’t need to be reheated. A little pinch goes a long way. But I usually like to add a lot more than a pinch to my rice. It is pungent, sweet, salty and spicy. I have this wild idea in my head how it would be a great ingredient for sushi roll. It could work. And toast. Toast would be good too.

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Dried Shrimp Sambal, Sambal Hebi

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

150 g dried shrimp, ground finely
50 g red chilies
8 shallots
3 cloves garlic
4 tbsp sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy sauce

Directions:

Blend chilies, shallots, garlic, sugar, lime juice and 1/4 cup water in a blender till fine.
Heat cooking oil in a wok. Add chili paste and quickly stir-fry until it boils and turns darker.
Add dried shrimp and stir-fry for another 5 minutes.
Season with soy sauce and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve with steamed rice and other dishes.

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Gado Gado Salad

Indonesian version of salad is the one happily drenched with peanut sauce. The sauce should be thick, crunchy, sweet and spicy. There are basically more than ten type of salad using peanut sauce, so even if they all look and sound the same, they taste differently, according to some picky eaters.

This is the famous gado-gado salad, one which can be found in many Indonesian restaurant here and abroad. This post is a re-post from the old one I did back in 2008 when food blogging was naive.

After the new addition in our family, I find less and less time to cook and blog as I used to, with the days of planning and props and shopping, so I do apologize for the lack of styling and propping and the messy kitchen. I tried to cook as fast as I can between baby’s screaming and even less time too take pictures.

The food photography of the end product includes someone standing in the garden (which thankfully, next to the kitchen) and hold the plate. Afterwards we eat in the garden right then and there. No more running around gathering props. Those days are pretty much over. And I am not sure if they are ever coming back. I am still doing the step-by-step images but for those who aren’t interested and would rather get to the recipe straight away, I have included the recipe before the page break. So if you aren’t going to be too happy to load the 20+ images of step by step, please don’t click on the “read more”.

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Indonesian Gado Gado Salad

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

Peanut Sauce

2 cloves garlic
10 g bird's eye chili (green chili)
20 g gula melaka
1/2 tbsp salt
100 g peanuts, deep-fried or roasted
1/2 tbsp kecap manis
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 cup water

Salad

200 g cabbage, sliced thinly
75 g bean sprouts, blanched briefly
250 g tofu, fried till golden and cut into cubes
1 medium cucumber, quartered and cut into 1/2 cm thickness
2 stalk Chinese celery, chopped finely
2 spring onion, chopped finely
10 g red and white crackers, deep-fried

Directions:

To make the sauce
Mix garlic, chili, gula melaka, salt and peanut in a food processor and grind coarsely.
Add lime and kecap manis, mix well.
Gradually add water and stirring at the same time, to a desired thickness.

To serve
Combine all salad ingredients in a big mixing bowl or individual plater.
Add sauce and serve immediately.

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I love salted fish. It is pungent and it is really you-love-it-or-you-don’t kinda food ingredients. It is also considered as the poor man’s dish. Back in the days, people with not much money can only afford seafood this way. With only a small piece, a whole family could down their meals satisfactorily. We have some really good home-cooked meals with these salted fish. When shop for salted fish, look for the clean looking piece. Thick and clean would be what I would go for. Also get the one that doesn’t smell too bad. One of the best dishes to cook salted fish with is bean sprouts stir-fry. Easy and quick.

Prep the ingredients, fresh bean sprouts, slices of chili, salted fish and minced garlic. I have the pet peeve of eating bean sprouts with the tails on. I have to get rid of them. I just have to.

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