OMG, you guys…. Indonesian food is uh-may-zing. Like, totally, completely, utterly, ridiculously good.
Indonesian food, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
1) Tempeh. Deep fry thin slices of it until golden-brown, and dip it in sambal. Crispy fermented soybean crack.
2) Sambal. This is the condiment of my dreams. Super spicy chile paste with garlic, onion, vinegar, salt and/or terasi (a fermented shrimp paste). Need to clear your sinuses? Use this like ketchup.
3) Tahu goreng. I actually crave tofu these days.
4) Nasi goreng. Whether it’s special (with a little ayam [chicken] and a fried egg) or just some veggies, this rice is the bomb-diggity. Serve it with plenty of sambal and kecap manis.
5) Kecap manis. My favorite varieties are sweet and spicy. Just don’t confuse it with saus tomat (ketchup).
6) Tahu isi. Literally heaven in food form. I prefer mine to be vegetarian, as the meat would distract from the deliciousness that the filling is. Our pembantu (housekeeper) made one for us the other night with glass noodles, cabbage, carrots, and some kind of bumbu (spice paste) that has made me a tofu fan FOREVER. Again, this is amazing slathered in sambal and kecap manis.
As I learn recipes for these and the associated techniques, I’ll do some more detailed write-ups. Tahu isi definitely requires its own blog post.
For anyone who knows me… you’ll be surprised by this: I have been slowly converting to a mostly vegetable-oriented diet. It certainly helps that the non-meat options here are ludicrously yummy. My waistline has definitely liked this shift in dietary locus, and I’m sure my cardiovascular health isn’t complaining either. One of the main reasons I was so meat-centric was that I had no idea that vegetarian cuisine could be so bloody good! My staples in the States were grilled and roasted veggies as accompaniments to proteins; here with the myriad sauces, different produce, and different cooking techniques my mind has officially been blown w/r/t veggies and non-meat products. I still will not eat fish or mushrooms, however. Yuck.
Despite the amazing food here, I’m still anxiously awaiting my kitchen equipment. Welcome kit cooking is like camping…. you can only do so much. I’m lost without my food processor, immersion blender, Le Creusset French oven, and good sauté pans. What’s a boy to do? Buy a wok and a cast-iron skillet from Amazon to tide him over, that’s what.
On the horizon for me are cheesemaking (the cheese SUCKS here… so when you can’t find good sh*t, you make it), pizza making (ditto, plus I CAN’T WAIT TO PLAY WITH MY NEW PIZZA OVEN), fried chicken (I have several Indonesians and ex-pats interested in my fried chicken, thanks to my wife’s mad marketing skillz), and grilling (having a Weber once again will be so nice).
Sorry for the extended hiatus, dear readers…. Those of you in the Foreign Service know all about the transition to post and how unadventurous welcome kit cooking is. For those of you not in the FS… it’s hard to write about cooking when you’ve been completely uninspired and unable to cook anything decent due to lack of equipment, quality ingredients, and time.
More later, I promise.