Saturday, June 21, 2014

Recipes from Kalimantan, Indonesia

Look at that it's almost Sunday! This week I'm three days behind getting my blog post up. Damn.

Anyway yay, summer! I hope you're having as much fun as we are, and are only half as busy and stressed out as I am. Which is probably still more busy and stressed out than you ought to be.

I'm still finding time to blog, but only just. We've already spent some time at the beach and at a pirate festival in between all the time we've spent swimming. And we're only a week and a half in ... Whew!

Pulau Beras Basah, Bontang, Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia.
Photo by M Reza Faisal.

And yet I still managed to take us all the way to Indonesia, at least in foodie sense. This week we're in Kalimantan, Indonesia, which is the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. Borneo is the third largest island in the world, after Greenland and New Guinea.

Kalimantan is home to one of the world's largest and oldest rainforests, which is somewhere between 50 and 100 million years old. Many of the drugs we depend on here in the US are manufactured using raw materials that come from this forest, which is also one of the most bio-diverse places on earth. Orangutans live there, and so does the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Dayak fruit bat and a myriad of other amazing creatures.

The food in this part of the world is quite popular in the rest of the world--in fact if you go to an Indonesian restaurant here in the US you're quite likely to find a lot of dishes on the menu that hail from the island of Borneo. Here are the ones I picked:

Sate Banjar 
(from Indonesian Dessert Recipes)
  • 1 lb chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 5 curly red chili peppers (substitute red jalapenos)
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • 1 whole tomato, sliced 
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil
Asam-Asam Prawns 
(also from Indonesian Dessert Recipes)
  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deviened
  • 1 tsp tamarind, dissolved in 1/4 cup water 
  • 2 tbsp oil for sauteing 
  • 6 red onions 
  • 3 cloves of garlic 
  • 1/2 tsp pepper grains 
  • 4 items pecans, toasted 
  • 1/2 inch turmeric, roasted 
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, crushed 
  • 1 inch piece galangal
  • 5 pieces starfruit, cut into pieces
  • 3 large red chilies, sliced oblique
  • 3/4 cup water
Nasi Kuning 
(from Indonesia Eats)
  • 2 cups jasmine rice, washed and drained
  • 2 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup water (more if needed) *
  • 1 Indonesian bay leaf 
  • 2 lime kaffir leaves 
  • 1 pandan leaf (substitute 3 drops pandan essence) 
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, bruised 
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder 
  • 1 inch piece galangal, cut in 4 lengthwise slices 
  • salt to taste
* I added this ingredient--in my experience, this recipe doesn't have enough liquid in it for the rice to absorb.

First let's do the chicken:
Boil the peppers with the garlic and tomatoes until soft. Drain and set aside.

Now mix the brown sugar with the salt. Add the soy sauce and oil, then transfer to a blender with the peppers, garlic and tomatoes. Pour over the chicken and let stand for 20 minutes.

Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and grill on your barbecue, turning occasionally. Baste with the residual marinade and continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Now for the shrimp:

Mix the shrimp with the tamarind water and set aside. Now heat the oil over a medium flame and add the ground spices, bay leaves, lemongrass and galangal. Cook until fragrant.

Add the shrimp and stir-fry until pink, then add the chili pepper, water and star fruit. (I didn't have any star fruit, so Martin cut some pineapple into a star shape and we used that. Probably the biggest cheat I've done so far for this blog.) 

Stir until the starfruit softens. Discard the bay leaves, lemongrass and galangal. Done!

I know, it's not star fruit. It's pineapple. Cheater!

Finally, the rice.

Mix all the ingredients together in a heavy stock pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fluffy. Discard the lemongrass, galangal, bay leaves and lime leaves. Serve.

Mmm loved the rice! It had a nice lemony, coconutty flavor although I'm not sure the texture was quite right. It was pretty sticky. I confess that I had a hard time with this, I had to keep adding water because it's really not that easy for rice to absorb a liquid as thick as coconut milk. At one point while it was cooking, Martin lifted the lid and said (aghast) "Rice-A-Roni??" which is probably the most insulting thing anyone has ever said about anything I've cooked--but in the end it tasted pretty good and went nicely with the shrimp and chicken. I enjoyed all of these dishes a lot--they had lots of flavor and color.

My kids, as I'm sure you guessed, wanted to know where the dessert was and then picked unenthusiastically at their meals until I had mercy on them and let them leave the table. I don't know why I even bother to report to you what my kids thought of their food--I need some canned stuff that I can just cut and paste into the end of every blog.

Next week: Kashmir, India

1 comment:

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