Category Archives: Indonesian
As I was just whining the other day, when you have a wide culinary interest in the region of Asia (NO! It is NOT the same as being indecisive!) sometimes it can be hard to keep all those different sauces and ingredients in stock.
Fortunately, it is often possible to make your own. Well, at least sometimes.
Even then sometimes I don’t have some sauce or ingredient that’s part of the recipe. In this case – I was out of both lemongrass and Tamari (actually I don’t keep tamari sauce around, so I pretty much NEVER have it).
Oh well. I’m a barbarian – I’ll get close enough.
- 3/4 c palm sugar, jaggery, or brown sugar
- 3 T water
- 1 c tamari (I used soy sauce)
- 1 T minced galangal (from a jar – if using fresh, just slice it thinly)
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 T minced lemon grass, bulb only. I use this stuff —> More Info
- 2 star anise
- dissolve the sugar in the water over a medium heat.
- add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer
- simmer over a med low heat for about 10 mins – until it begins to thicken
- remove from heat and store in the fridge in a glass jar.
Kecap manis will keep virtually forever. But you won’t have to worry about that – this is a great base for a stir fry noodle dish. Obviously you need to add something spicy as well, but this is a good start. It won’t be around for long!
A NOTE ABOUT GOURMET GARDEN HERBS-INNA-TUBE
The Gourmet Garden lemongrass is OK, but the only other thing I’ve tried from them is, well, pretty inferior if not downright nasty. I’m talking to you, Gourmet Gardens cilantro-in-a-tube! Get thee back to the netherworlds!
Actually the ginger and garlic are probably OK as well, but kind of pricey when it’s so easy to get good garlic and ginger paste at any Asian, and many “regular ‘merican”, grocery. Given my experience with the cilantro, I don’t think I’d be willing to give the basil a chance. YMMV.
Learning Moment of the Day
A psychologist, an engineer, and a mathematician are in a bar having a convivial drink. While the three are well into demonstrating an exponential curve as a function of alcohol intake, the psychologist proposes a psychological demonstration, in which the engineer and the mathematician agree to participate. Pointing a particularly pulchritudinous member of the opposite sex on the other side of the room out to each of his subjects, the psychologist proposes, “I will ring a bell at 1 minute intervals. At the sound of the bell, you may each advance 1/2 of the distance towards the object of your desire. Are you ready to begin?”
The mathematician immediately throws hands in the air and cries, “No way! It’s a mug’s game! I’m not wasting my time with this – if I can only advance 1/2 of the distance at each interval, I will NEVER get there!”
The psychologist busily makes some notes and turns to the engineer, who, as it turns out, has already hopped off the bar stool and is clearly ready to go, saying, “That’s alright, I’ll get CLOSE ENOUGH!”
I’m frequently missing ingredients when I go to make a dish – there are so many different Asian sauces and pastes it’s hard to keep track of them all. I would normally make this with Nam Prik Pao, but having none on hand, and not having the energy to make my own (probably I would be lacking some ingredients for that as well) I went with a substitute of sambal oelek and kecap manis, both of which are Indonesian rather than Thai in origin as opposed to the Nam Prik Pao (which is a Thai thing).
Also this has bell peppers in it, which makes Thai purists shudder (NOT A THAI FLAVOR!) Oh well, what can I say, we’re culinary barbarians here. We have the particularly peculiar and vulgar idea that if it tastes good, we eat it. So sue me! LOL!
This one’s easy.
- extra-firm tofu, one block, pressed
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- one medium onion, sliced
- 2 tsp to 1 T sambal olek (Indonesian chili paste), to taste
- 1 T kecap manis
- 2 bell peppers, sliced in good size chunks (to taste) – I used a yellow and a red
- 2 T fish sauce (you vegetarians out there, substitute a vegetarian “fish” sauce or Golden Mountain sauce)
- handful of Thai basil leaves only, rinsed well. If you can’t find Thai basil, “regular” basil will do – but it won’t taste the same. Still good, just different.
- oil for sauteing
- Press the tofu and slice into medium thin slices
- Dry fry the tofu in a nonstick pan over a low medium heat ’til both sides are golden brown
- cut tofu into 1″ or so pieces (larger or smaller is ok, to taste)
- heat the oil in a fry pan – add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion starts to brown
- add sambal oelek, kecap manis, and fish sauce. Saute for a couple of minutes
- add the tofu pieces and saute over a low heat for 5 to 10 mins to allow the tofu to pick up the flavor of the sauce
- add the bell pepper – saute another 3 mins over med low heat until the peppers just start to cook. You want them to retain some crispiness so don’t over do it
- add the rinsed basil leaves and stir to incorporate. Saute about a minute, then shut off the heat
- serve over rice with lime wedges
Next time, it’s noodles for this guy. Which will take a bit more in the way of sauce – probably a bit more of the kecap manis, a touch more heat from sambal oelek or one of it’s cousins, some sake … This was good with rice, but I think it would make a really good noodle dish.
NOTE: I first made this using 2 tsp of the sambal oelek. This gave it a nice, mild hint of spiciness – but keep in mind, in our house we tend to eat HOT and think it’s normal. 2 tsp may be plenty hot for your tastes. For us, next time I’ll probably use at least twice as much, or else add some fresh chili. If using nam prik pao, it may take an entirely different amount, depending on the “innate hotness” of the brand you’re using.