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Indonesian Cuisine Recipes

by Nancy Freeman

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Satay Ayam (Chicken Satay)
Serves approximately six people, 10 to 12 as part of a rijsttafel

Satay, quick-grilled over a roadside fire, is popular street food today in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia, but its home is Indonesia. Tuti Taylor-Weber of Oakland, California's Dutch East Indies Restaurant provides us with her version.

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. tamarind juice (see ingredients list)

Cut chicken into cubes of approximately 3/4" on a side. Mix together remaining ingredients and marinate chicken for two hours. Soak bamboo skewers in water for approximately 20 minutes.

Thread chicken onto skewers, four or five to a skewer, and grill over glowing coals or under preheated grill four minutes to a side or until chicken is brown on all sides.

Serve satay with peanut sauce and a fiery sambal to satisfy your need for heat.

Satay Sauce

8 Tb. crunchy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups water
3 tsp. garlic salt
3 tsp. dark brown sugar
Tamarind juice to taste
Coconut milk (see ingredients list) or additional water

Put peanut butter and water in a saucepan and stir over gentle heat until mixed.

Remove from heat and add all other ingredients except coconut milk or additional water. Use coconut milk or water to make sauce thick yet pouring consistency. Check seasonings and add more salt and tamarind juice if needed.

Serves eight to ten people, 12 to 15 is part of a rijsttafel

Sumatrans and Javanese have very different interpretations of this favorite beef dish. Sumatrans like it hot and dry, while Javanese like it sweeter with more gravy. While, a Javanese herself, Tuti leans toward the style of Padang in Sumatra, considered by most the source of the best food in the country. Out of sympathy for her guests, she cuts back on the hot pepper. But if you'd like to sample true Padang-style eating, load up on the sambal.

1 medium onion chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tb. fresh ginger, chopped
5 fresh red hot chillies chopped or 2 Tb. crushed dry chili
2 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. galanga powder (see ingredients list)
4 tsp. paprika
6 kemiri (see ingredients list)
6 kaffir lime leaves (see ingredients list)
1 stalk of fresh lemon grass or 1 Tb. lemon grass powder (see ingredients list)
1/2 cup tamarind juice
1/2 cup water

3 lbs. round or chuck steak cut into strips approximately 1 1/2 wide and 2 1/2 long

Mix all ingredients but meat in a blender or food processor. Add to a large saucepan, add meat and bring quickly to a boil.

Reduce heat to moderate, stirring occasionally until sauce reduces by one-half. Turn heat to low and continue cooking until gravy is almost dry stirring frequently to ensure mixture does not stick to the pan.

Allow meat to fry in remaining oil until it is dark brown. Cooking time approximately two hours. Serve with white rice.

Kari Ikan (Fish Curry)
Serves 4 people, more for a rijsttafel

No sampling of Indonesian dishes would be complete without seafood or a curry. Syamsul and Beverley Bachri, owners of
Bachri's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania provide us with the perfect marriage, a fish curry, and a simple one at that.

1 Tb. oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
8 kemiri ground
1 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup water
4 fish fillets
2 scallions, chopped

Heat oil in a wok, add sliced onion, and stir-fry until tender. Add ginger, kemiri, and curry powder, and stir-fry over low
heat for 3 minutes.

Add kecap manis, lemon juice, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.

Add fish fillets in a single layer in the wok. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes on each side or until the fish is done. Place on a platter, sprinkle with chopped scallions, and serve with sambal and sliced cucumber salad along with white rice.

Semur Daging (Slices Of Beef In Soya Sauce)
Serves 3 or 4, more for a rijstaffel

On my first night in Jakarta, my hostess prepared semur. No doubt she felt it would be easy on my wimpy western palate, but I found its sweetness strange and exotic. Of course a palate trained in the Midwest during the fifties and sixties would have found anything exotic! Now that I have toughened up, I know to serve a dish like this with plenty of sambal for a balance between sweet and hot. This is Syamsul and Beverley Bachri's version.

1 lb. beef roast, thinly sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tb. kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
2 Tb. butter
2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
2 potatos, thinly sliced
2 tomatos, peeled and chopped
4 scallions, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
Thinly sliced fried onion

Fry shallots and garlic in butter until lightly browned. Add meat and potato slices, and saute briefly. Add the tomato, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well.

Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add eggs and cook for 5 minutes more. Add scallions just prior to serving and garnish with fried onions. Serve with white rice.


And at last, the food that gives Indonesian cuisine its spark. There are sambals of all sorts to accompany different kinds of dishes. Some are used as an ingredient in dishes like sambal goreng ikan (fish fried in sambal). The heat can come from fresh red chillies for from bottled chilli paste. This is Syamsul and Beverley's basic recipe. Modify it to suit your needs.

2 large tomatoes
2 large Spanish onions
1 tsp. terasi (see ingredients list)
Several cloves of garlic
1/2 cup sambal oelek (raw chili paste) (see ingredients list)
1/4 cup oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend together in a food processor the tomatoes, onions, terasi, garlic and sambal oelek until slightly chunky. Do not

Place mixture in a pot, preferable with a non stick surface with the oil, salt and pepper and lightly boil until no water surfaces. The sambal is done when the consistency is constant and it no longer seperates.

(For Sambal Manis - Sweet Sambal -- a very common variation on the theme, add 1/4 cup of Kecap Manis when the sambal is almost done.)

Mail Order Supplies

In cities like New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver and the San Francisco Bay area, you should have no trouble finding ingredients for cooking Indonesian food in your local Asian markets. Certain ingredients unique to Indonesian cuisine such as kemiri, a thickening agent, and salam leaf may be marketed under English names as candlenut and Indian bay leaf. Pandan leaf is occasionally used in Thai cooking and may be found in stores catering to Thai customers.

But you surfers living in cities with small Asian populations can now sit back and order ingredients with a click of the mouse. Yup, Indonesian ingredients on-line. Check out www.lm.com/~bachris for a website run by Syamsul and Beverley Bachri, owners of Bachri's, an Indonesian restaurant in Pittsburgh. You'll find just about everything you need for a home-cooked Indonesian meal and then some.

more on Indonesian Cuisine...
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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