South East Asian countries are where fried food went to die. There are simply so much fried goodies than the rest of the world combined. Anything can be fried and eaten. I once visited Tegal, Central Java, where a food stall owner whipped up a bunch of tapioca flour with some water and dropped spoonfuls of the batter in hot oil. When turned brown, the batter become something crunchy on the outside and very questionable gooey transparent looking thing inside. She then served it up with chili sauce and handed it to me. For me anything deep-fried served with chili is good.
Tahu sumedang or stuffed tofu is popular street snacks. Tofu used is not the silky type, rather the denser type that can be deep-fried in batter and sliced. It doesn’t cost that much to buy off the street, but not that difficult to make at home either.
It is usually served with thick gooey brown sugar and chili sauce or fresh bird’s eye chili. Since I don’t know how to make the brown chili sauce, I used chili. It is scarily spicy. Omit if you have a faint heart.
We have pre-fried tofu for sale in our local supermarket or traditional market. To make this, please cut your tofu blocks into smaller pieces, about 5×5 cm. Line the tofu with dry kitchen towel bottom and top, Place a heavy plate on top to drain the water off the tofu. Leave for 15 minutes and deep-fry till golden.
To prepare for the filling, prep all the vegetables. Here we used cabbage, carrot and bean sprouts. Grate carrot coarsely and slice the cabbage.
For the spices, the usual shallots, garlic, candlenut and white pepper are used. If no candlenuts available, it is fine to omit or use nutmeg powder instead.
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.
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.
Grilled fish in banana leaves, ikan pepes
1 kg mackerel
8 shallots (50 g)
3 cloves garlic
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
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
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.
Dried Shrimp Sambal, Sambal Hebi
150 g dried shrimp, ground finely
50 g red chilies
3 cloves garlic
4 tbsp sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
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.
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”.
Indonesian Gado Gado Salad
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
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
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.
Combine all salad ingredients in a big mixing bowl or individual plater.
Add sauce and serve immediately.