Kolak Sago

Our desserts are filled with sweet and rich dishes, made with coconut milk and palm sugar. We can never have enough of those.

Compote cooked with coconut milk and palm sugar are called “kolak“. There are many variations of kolak. Some are made with plantain (recipe here) and some are made with cassava, jack fruit, kolang kaling (also known as atap seed) or a mix of everything.

SagoSago used in this dessert is in the shape of small bowls and orangish or brownish in color. It needs to be soaked for a while and then can be broken into loose pearl-shaped and transparent chewy grains. Amazing, isn’t it?

Kolak with sago is extra thick and rich, great for teatime snack. I love them very cold so I add lots of ice cubes to dilute the thick kolak.

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Fried Grouper with Lemongrass Sauce

One of the most fabulous sweet, spicy and sour sauce I have ever tasted. One morning, we went to our local market. There was a food stall that sells extremely delicious varieties of dishes. We saw fish dish cooked with bright chili red sauce, with sliced chilies and lemongrass. According to the seller, it is “Ikan Acar” – or pickled fish, which is basically deep fried fish with red-colored sauce.

The “Ikan Acar” is not the same as the ones known in Peranakan cuisine. This is equally great though. Master the sauce and you can substitute the fish with any other kind of seafood. As usual, the fish is deep-fried till crunchy. It is really really good. We gobbled up the last drop of sauce with steamed rice.

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Urap Sayur, Vegetable Salad with Coconut

Great vegetable salad, from Javanese cuisine. It uses freshly grated coconut simmered with spices paste till the coconut soaked up the rich paste. Chilies and turmeric give the coconut that rich color. This dish is known as Urap Sayururap refers to shredded coconut cooked with spices and sayur refers to vegetables.

The accompanying vegetables are usually blanched. For nice colors and presentation, use vegetables of all textures and colors. Leafy vegetables for greens, cucumbers and beansprouts for whites, carrots for orange. The other common condiments served are hard boiled eggs and tapioca-based white and red crackers.

If the coconut is thoroughly cooked for more than 15 minutes, the salad can last for more than one day, refrigerated. If not, it is meant to be consumed on the same day. It is advisable to not mix the vegetables and coconut before serving.

Urap Sayur, Javanese Vegetable Salad with Coconut

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Fried Fish with Sweet Soy Sauce

There are two most popular way to cook Silver Pomfret (ikan bawal) in Indonesian household, one is to steam with ginger, garlic and sesame oil. The other one is to cook it with soy sauce and chili or ikan kecap (ikan for fish, kecap for soy sauce). Fried fish with soy sauce is common dish in both Indonesian and Chinese restaurants.

The Indonesian-style fried fish soy sauce has to use Kecap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce). Other sweet soy sauce will result in different taste of sauce. Equally nice though, but not quite the same.

The sauce is cooked first, then the fried fish is added. The ingredients for the sauce are quick to prepare. This sweet, sour and spicy sauce is always a hit for children. Home cooked fish with soy is much healthier, since no additional cornstarch is added and less sugar. Serve with steamed rice.

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Sambal Teri Kacang, Spicy Anchovies and Peanuts

I love anchovies. I love them deep-fried, crunchy, and extra salty. These dried mini fishes are sold in the market or Asian grocers, sometimes in vacuum-packed bag or in big bamboo baskets where you can pick the type you want and get them as much as you need.

Shopping for dried anchovies (ikan teri in Indonesian or ikan bilis in Malaysian) in traditional market in Asia is really a smelly deal. I am not a huge fan. If I have to do it myself, I will pick them up from the supermarket shelves. But the view of neatly arranged varieties of dried and salted anchovies and fish and seafood is amazing.

One of the most common way to cook dried anchovies in Indonesian cuisine is to deep fry them with peanuts. The deep fried anchovies and peanuts are then coated with chili paste. This is known as “sambal teri kacang” and is part of rijjstaffel side dishes to be served with steamed rice.

This recipe is using small size dried anchovies, or Teri Medan. The type of sugar used is palm sugar (gula merah/gula melaka). If castor sugar is used, the color will be considerably lighter. It is important to keep it crunchy, and the key to make perfect and crunchy sambal teri kacang is to let the chili paste cool down slightly and stir in anchovies with peanuts and mix them quickly before the paste completely cool off.

Serve this with your fragrant coconut milk rice (nasi lemak, recipe here), it will sure be a hit!

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