a plague of cilantro (cjp) Fri 8 Feb 08 10:14
Oh man, that egg dish at Lorong Bangkok sounds worth the trip! I have really enjoyed this cookbook. I am utterly unfamiliar with Indonesian food, and my only real foray into this cuisine was when I made rijsttafel out of the 1970's Joy of Cooking, so Cradle of Flavor is a revelation. The directions in your book are wonderfully clear, and I adore the little essays that accompany them -- they create the perfect aura for imagining what a new dish will taste like before actually creating it. That spice cake was the first thing that caught my eye, too. Perfection. And it has gone the way of all good cakes: happily down the hatch with a couple glasses of cold milk! I guess I'd like to ask a variation on the question Bourdain always asks his chef buddies: what would be your perfect last meal, if it could only be made of Indonesian dishes?
fat and sassy and laying eggs (wiggly) Fri 8 Feb 08 10:18
Reading these descriptions on an empty stomach is torture. Time to head over to the store for some galangal and turmeric, I suppose. Speaking of ingredients, it seems that some common items from Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese food are missing - fish sauce, bitter melon, and various gourds for example. Is there a particular reason something like fish sauce didn't make the crossing from the mainland?
Which is better - one or two? (smash) Fri 8 Feb 08 10:20
> Nutmeg jam You suggest making it with the nut, but the discussion seems to point to the (unavailable - in the US) fruit. We know that Mace and Nutmeg (nut) are very different from each other in flavor. What does the fruit itself taste like? > Beef Rendang I had it in a restaurant last week, and it was typical of what I get in restaurants around here (in the SF Bay Area): the sauce is great, but the beef is mostly flavorless. It seems as though the meat has never had the benefit of the sauce. Your recipe is all about cooking it in the sauce, and I can't imagine cooking them separately. What is going wrong with them? We have a kaffir lime bush. Of course, the leaves are great, but is there much useful to do with the fruit? I don't see them referenced in the book.
Which is better - one or two? (smash) Fri 8 Feb 08 10:23
And slipped by the stressed Mr. <wiggly> (for the next little while at least. (Wiggly - I'm going to make the Beef Rendang next week. Neener neener.) Since he mentions fish sauce, I'm also interested. I happen to have a wide-ranging fish allergy, and I find fish sauce to be nasty. I'm glad that it's not predominant in the cuisine.
fat and sassy and laying eggs (wiggly) Fri 8 Feb 08 10:29
The best thing to do with those limes is send them to me.
Eric Gower (gower) Fri 8 Feb 08 10:40
The zest from kaffirs is great, Scott.
Which is better - one or two? (smash) Fri 8 Feb 08 16:26
Dream on, guys. I just hit Ranch 99 to shop for Beef Rendang ingredients, and was really disappointed. I hoped to find galangal, candlenuts, daun salam (screwpine) leaves, and turmeric; I was sure I'd seen most there before. I only found the galangal, plus screwpine extract. I found some dried whole turmeric in an Indian grocery. Of course, I already have the kaffir lime leaves.
James Oseland (jamesoseland) Fri 8 Feb 08 18:42
Re. fish sauce: weirdly, is virtually unknown in the foods of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Instead, locals cooks get a similar, umami-type flavor profile from dried shrimp paste, which is made from tiny brine shrimp. The ingredient is used VERY sparingly, and it's almost always toasted first, which mellows its flavor (and aroma) considerably....
James Oseland (jamesoseland) Fri 8 Feb 08 18:47
Re. my last meal: OK, this is tricky. Part of me wants to go the spare, simple route, like the toast/tea/egg breakfast I described earlier. Probably, though, decadence would win out, and I'd want ikan pepes (a whole fish slathered in a kaffir lime-y spice paste then grilled inside a banana leaf); coconut rice--lots of coconut rice; an eggplant curry with coconut milk and cinnamon and cloves; some stir-fried water spinach that had just been picked five minutes prior; a glass of cool, sweet limeade made from kalimansi limes; and, of course, the spice cake.
James Oseland (jamesoseland) Fri 8 Feb 08 18:55
Sorry, smash, about your bad luck in finding (or not finding, actually) ingredients at the Ranch 99. Did you go to the one in the East Bay or Milpitas? (I live in New York but know both stores pretty well.) The weird thing is, they probably DO have candlenuts (you can use macadamias instead) and daun salam (I've bought them at both locations before)--they're just secreted in a tiny section dedicated to Indonesian/Malaysian ingredients and the people who work in the store don't know how to steer you there. (By the way, daun salam is different from daun pandan, the extract you bought; "daun" means leaf.) The fresh turmeric may have been in the frozen foods section--but dried works perfectly well. Good luck, though, with what you've got thus far--let me know if you have further questions.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Fri 8 Feb 08 19:26
The shrimp paste is from dried saltwater shrimp, right? Thinking you can't actually mean brine shrimp, the microscopic creatures I hatch out and feed to my baby fish......
fat and sassy and laying eggs (wiggly) Fri 8 Feb 08 21:50
The Sayur Lodeh from the tofu section of the book was a big hit tonight. I've used shrimp paste in the past, but never the toasting technique. It adds a really interesting element to the curry - plus the kitchen smells like barbecued shrimp while you're toasting the paste. At the Asian grocery I got my supplies from, the small Indonesian section has cans of imported Kraft processed cheese with an Arabic Kraft logo on the can. Is this a common ingredient there? It really stuck out amidst the sambals.
Which is better - one or two? (smash) Fri 8 Feb 08 22:25
Thanks for the comments. I went to the one in Cupertino; maybe I'll head to Milpitas and take a look.
(martyb) Sat 9 Feb 08 08:50
One night I was randomly viewing blogs on blogger, and I came to the blog of a young woman from (IIRC) Malaysia. She mostly reviewed restaurants that she had gone to with her friends. I was surprised at how often toast was mentioned. Assuming my memory is not totally off, which it could be, is toast a more deliberately ordered restaurant snack food in that part of the world?
a plague of cilantro (cjp) Sat 9 Feb 08 08:56
(slipped by martyb) I've found lots of Indonesian and Malaysian ingredients (as well as Chinese stuff I can't find in other markets, like red wine yeast and big discs of pu erh tea) at the Lions Market at the corner of Saratoga and Kiely near 280 in the South Bay. I believe I saw a huge selection of SE Asian foods there. The only real drawback is the horrible traffic at that intersection. Thanks for the last meal menu. That does sound delish. And I'd probably go with lots of coconut rice, too. I mean, if it's the last meal, then why worry about too much coconut, right? I'm a vegetarian and I'm assuming there's vegetarians in Indonesia; what do they use in place of the shrimp paste? I often use fermented tofu and its brine in Chinese cooking to give it the necessary funk. Is there something similar in Indonesian cuisine?
Which is better - one or two? (smash) Sat 9 Feb 08 11:33
Dang. I'd forgotten about Lion, and I drove right by there yesterday.
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Sat 9 Feb 08 18:15
James, what should I be looking for in a package of Daun Salam? The ones I found at my closest asian market were pretty dry and crumbly, but I have no idea if that's as expected or if they should be more "fresh" for lack of a better term. OK, "hidup", alive, is probably the right term, as you describe the Alwi's cook using it in the book. What do daun salam look like when they're hidup?
Which is better - one or two? (smash) Sat 9 Feb 08 23:34
I'm still not finding it. Can I substitute regular bay leaf - is it close?
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sat 9 Feb 08 23:53
I've only used pandan extract, which is much more reminiscent of almond extract or even vanilla than of bay. Not resinous and spicy, but sweet and nutty and floral, almost. I might try mahleb or almond extract if I couldn't get pandan for a dessert. Not sure if the same substitution would be the right way to go for a beef rendang.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sun 10 Feb 08 21:29
Scored frozen pandan leaves in my local thai market. Long, skinny, easy to miss the narrow little slot on the shelf that holds them. Had to ask at the checkout and be directed to them--missed first time around. Potatoes rendang tonight.
fat and sassy and laying eggs (wiggly) Sun 10 Feb 08 22:12
No daun pandan in the potato rendang recipe. You need daun salam. Made potato rendang and urap last night. I should have read through the recipe closely, as I didn't anticipate the total cooking time. It was very much worth the effort, though. Tomorrow's recipe: tempeh sambal with lemon basil. Well, probably thai basil since lemon basil was nowhere to be found during my shopping trip yesterday.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sun 10 Feb 08 22:29
Just realized that: fortunately, I got some cassia leaves too. The cassia leaves are quite unique smelling. The ones I have are frozen, and not very intact. Should the broken bits be chopped up into the seasoning paste ingredients, or should I put them in a tea-strainer or other pouch so I can recover them after cooking/
fat and sassy and laying eggs (wiggly) Sun 10 Feb 08 22:42
I thought cassia leaves were different than daun salam. The leaf labeling around here is pretty confusing. The market I frequent has fresh curry leaves labeled as Indian bay leaves, and the dried daun salam are also labeled as Indian bay leaves. It took me a while to figure out what was what, but not before I screwed up Indian curry for 50 with a bunch of daun salam (which at the time I didn't have the slightest knowledge of).
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sun 10 Feb 08 23:43
Hmmm....the leaves I have are labelled cassia on the english nutrition label, but they do looks like bay leaves. There is nothing I can translate on the Thai label to know if they're the right leaves or not. They do have a slightly tart flavor that is not particularly like bay. But if is very tricky to be sure when you're trying to find such an unusual (at least, in US supermarkets) ingredient--when there's often no way to read the original label, and the label in english, if there is one, may be quite unhelpful--giving an english name that doesn't approach the name given in the cookbook. It took me quite a while to find mahleb in middle eastern markets because the local places called it mahaleb and pronounced it quite differently than I did.
a plague of cilantro (cjp) Mon 11 Feb 08 10:08
Talk about not being able to read the labels... I was in Hankook Market yesterday shopping around for kimchee and those glorious Korean turnips (sweet as apples and not a bit gassy; I even julienne the peels and stirfry them with some dried chilis), and there was this display of jars of dark red kimchee with a Korean sign in front of it that looked all the world like $100blahblahblahblahblah blahblahblahblah$100 blahblah blahblahblahblahblah blahblahblahblah blahblahblahblah blahblahblah $100. And I was wondering, why would kimchee cost $100? How good IS that kimchee, right? So I flagged down one of the younger employees who looked like an ABK and therefore spoke English and asked him. "Ha ha!" he said, at my silly lack of Korean comprehension. "They're not for sale. You have to buy $100 worth of this other stuff, and you get a jar of kimchee free." Ah, that made more sense.
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