Category Archives: Indonesian

Lemon Cucumbers and Peanut Sauce

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I’m curious…  Have you ever heard of or seen lemon cucumbers before?  The reason that I ask is that I have to tell you that lemon cucumbers are my all time favorite variety of cucumber.  Every year I grow one or two plants in my little garden and for about 4 months during the summer, I get big handfuls of tennis ball sized sweet little cucumbers.  This year, due to lack of garden space, I had to grow my lemon cucumber plants in a pot.  They did surprisingly well and I will be sure to try that method again next year.

One of the ways I like to eat lemon cucumbers is to slice them into thin slices and dip them into a creamy homemade peanut sauce.  I could eat lemon cucumbers and peanut sauce all day if I could… I first was introduced to peanut sauce by my grandmother many years ago.  She always seemed to have a small bowl of peanut sauce on the table at family barbecues and meals.  I loved to drizzle it on many Indonesian dishes such as pork satay, nasi goreng and gado gado.   Many years later, I’ve taken peanut sauce a step further and put it on pizza, tofu tacos and turkey burgers.  Peanut sauce is so versatile and delicious!

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Lemon cucumbers resemble lemons with the yellow color and oval shape.  What I like about lemon cucumbers is that you don’t have to peel them for the skin is paper thin and you can eat them like an apple.  After picking them, you will notice that the cucumbers have a bit of a rough exterior.  All I do is wash them well and rub off the small little stickers or spines with a damp cloth that grow on the outer skin of the cucumber.   Once cleaned up, the skin is smooth and the cucumber is ready to eat.  Lemon cucumbers are delightfully mild and delicious.  Lemon cucumbers have a short shelf life as compared to the green cucumbers that you see in the store.  Once picked you have to eat them within a day or two.  Maybe that is why they are hard to find except if you grow them yourself or visit a farmers market.  Lemon cucumbers taste great sliced up in salads, on sandwiches or in a pickle.  If you get a chance to purchase or grow lemon cucumbers, be sure to make some of my peanut sauce for dipping!  Enjoy!  Tessa

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1 Tbls. Indonesian soy sauce
  • 1 Tbls. sweet chili sauce
  • regular soy sauce (optional, to taste)
  • sambal oelek or red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Lemon cucumbers (regular cucumbers can be substituted)

Grab a medium sauce pan or saucier.  Find a whisk.  Add all ingredients to the pan and cook on low heat for 20 – 30 minutes, whisking constantly.  You want the flavors to marry and the sauce to thicken.  Taste it.  If it is too sweet for your liking, add some soy sauce.  If you want it spicier, feel free to add some sambal oelek or some red pepper flakes.  Remove from heat and let it cool.  Pour into a serving dish.  While preparing the peanut sauce, wash and slice the cucumbers.  Serve cucumbers with the peanut sauce.  Makes nearly 1 1/2 cups.

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Chicken Pak Choi Stir Fry

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Chicken Pak Choi Stir Fry

I was so thrilled to have my son come home from school to visit last weekend.  I don’t see him too often but we do skype or email to keep in touch. I like using skype because I can actually see him while we talk but sometimes the quality of the connection can be poor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining…  I simply prefer talk to someone in person than use technology to do it.  Good or bad, having a face to face conversation beats a phone or email converstation hands down.

Whenever my son is home he can always bet on home cooked meals surrounded by friends and family.  No sandwiches, pizza, frozen dinners or anything that bears the slightest resemblance of college student food.  I can’t say that I blame him.  I would feel the exact same way.  I know because, I walked in those same shoes many years ago.

I made my Chicken Pak Choi Stir Fry for a quick lunch as my son was packing his bags to go back up to the University.  It’s made with chicken, ramen noodles and a large handful of chopped pak choi fresh picked from my garden.  Pak choi is an Asian variety of green leaf vegetable similar to cabbage or turnips.  It cooks quickly and lends a wonderful flavor and texture to many Asian dishes.

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Pak Choi growing in my garden.  I planted two varieties of this Asian leafy vegetable, a small purple leaf Pak Choi and a large white Bok Choy.

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Bok choy.  This grows more than twice the size of the pac choi.  It is also slower to bolt.

Pak choi or bok choy can be found in many grocery stores and at farmer’s markets.  It’s a cool weather crop so it’s more likely to be found in the fall, winter and spring months.  My Chicken Pak Choi Stir Fry takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.  What I like about it is that It’s inexpensive and a great option for a quick lunch or weekday dinner.  My son liked it and I hope that you do too!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ramen noodles
  • 1 cup cooked chicken
  • 1/4 onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 large handful of Pak Choi (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 Tbs Indonesian soy sauce or Kecap Manis
  • 1 tsp canola oil

Begin by boiling 2 cups of water in a sauce pan.  Add ramen noodles.  Save the seasoning packet for another day.  Cook ramen for only for three minutes.  Remove from heat, drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, bring a wok or large fry pan to medium high heat.  Add canola oil.  Now add the onion and bell pepper and cook until the onion is transluscent (about a minute or two).  Add cooked chicken, ramen noodles, pak choi and Indonesian soy sauce.  Cook another few minutes until the chicken has heated through and the pak choi has wilted.  Don’t over cook.   Remove from flame and serve.  Makes one serving.

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Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Chicken Satay.  Now close your eyes and repeat after me.  Saa-taay…  While you are saying it, just imagine hot, juicy, succulent, flavorful barbecued chicken on bamboo skewers drizzled with peanut sauce.  Close your eyes and say it again.  Saa-taay…

Did I just catch you drooling?

If you have never had satay before, satay is an amazingly flavorful barbecued dish that is generally of Southeast Asian origin.  It is prepared with many different ingredients such as chicken, beef, shrimp, lamb, fish, pork, goat and even tofu.  One of my favorite ways to prepare satay is with chicken.  I like to use bits of boneless, skinless chicken thighs marinated for several hours in coconut milk, Indonesian soy sauce and a variety of spices.  I then thread the chicken on to the skewers and cook them on the barbecue.

I like to serve my Chicken Satay with my homemade peanut sauce or drizzled with sweet chili sauce or sriracha.  I also serve it with a scoops of fluffy jasmine rice and fresh sliced cool cucumbers for garnish.  I also make sure that there’s plenty of sambal oelek on the side for those who love fiery hot food.  Makes 10 -12 skewers.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  •  1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1″ cubes or strips
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp Indonesian soy sauce
  • 1 – 2 tsp minced garlic
  • pinch of red pepper flakes or sambal oelek (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

In a medium sized bowl whisk together all the ingredients except for the chicken.  Once the marinade has been blended, add the chicken and toss well to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Take 10 -12 bamboo skewers and soak completely in water while the chicken is marinating.  Soaking the skewers in water prevents the skewers from burning off while the satay cooks on the barbecue.

Thread chicken onto the skewers and cook on medium hot barbecue or grill pan until the juices run clear or the chicken reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit.  Toss any remaining marinade.  Do not brush it on the chicken while cooking and do not even think about reusing it.  Pay attention and turn your skewers occasionally for even cooking.  Be sure not to over cook or under cook the satay.  Makes 10 -12 skewers.

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Spicy Watermelon Salad

Spicy Watermelon Salad

I just love hot and spicy food.  I can’t even think of even one hot and spicy dish that I don’t like.  Whenever I go to a restaurant and I have the option of choosing the heat level of my food I almost always choose 9 out of a scale of 1 to 10.  1 on the scale means very mild.  10 on the other hand, means it will burn a hole in the sidewalk.  I generally choose a 9 because I still want to be able to taste my food :).

Every time I order hot and spicy food, my sweet husband Bruce looks at me as if I am completely out of my mind.  I look back, smile at him and think to myself that mild food is not an option.  He should know me by now.  I warned him about this little detail many years ago.

Sambal Oelek

If you don’t know or never have heard of sambal oelek before, sambal oelek is an extremely hot (and delicious) Asian chili pepper paste.  Sambal oelek is always a staple our refrigerator and I could not even imagine doing without.  Sambal oelek is not for the faint of heart or is something that you can pack in your child’s lunch.  Simply put, sambal oelek is a delicious condiment that is to be respected.

My Spicy Watermelon Salad is made with bright red watermelon, spicy sambal oelek, sweet chili sauce, sour tamarind paste and lime juice.  It’s easy to make and only contains 5 ingredients.  Makes 4 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups watermelon balls (seedless)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbs  sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek (or to taste)

Begin by grabbing a medium sized bowl.  Whisk together the lime juice, sweet chili sauce, tamarind paste and sambal oelek.  Taste and correct your heat level.  Using a melon ball tool, make 4 cups of melon balls.  Add watermelon balls to your sauce.  Toss to coat.  Chill the salad if necessary.  Makes 4 – 1 cup servings.

 

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Spicy Strawberry Salad

Spicy Strawberry Salad

Many people when they think of strawberries they conjure up images of sugar and spice and everything nice…  I don’t.  When I think of strawberries, I think of them as the sassy little bad girls of the fruit world.  Of course strawberries are pretty and sweet however, they are feisty enough to stand up to hot and spicy flavors like nobody’s business.  Strawberries are cool…

My Spicy Strawberry Salad is reminiscent of an Indonesian hot fruit salad also known as Rudjak Manis.  My Spicy Strawberry Salad is made with fresh picked sweet juicy strawberries tossed with fiery sambal oelek, sweet Indonesian soy sauce, ginger, tamarind, and brown sugar.  If you have wimpy friends, you can control the heat by adding less sambal oelek.  Next time you pick or purchase a pound of fresh strawberries, try this easy to make exotic salad.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, washed, cored and sliced
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek (chili pepper paste)
  • 2 1/2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 Tbs water

In a bowl whisk together the sambal oelek, brown sugar, ginger, tamarind and water.  Add the strawberries.  Toss to coat and refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors marry.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  If you don’t like it too hot, then use less sambal oelek.  Makes 4 servings.

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Indonesian Meatballs

Indonesian Meatball

I found this little gem of a recipe for Indonesian Meatballs while digging through my old ugly recipe box the other day.  The recipe is from my family and I vague remember them sharing this dish years ago at family gatherings.  I’ve had this recipe for Indonesian Meatballs saved for a number of years and since I had a pound of ground beef stashed in my freezer I thought I’d give it a shot.  Indonesian Meatballs are made with ground beef, minced onion, garlic, nutmeg, cloves and finished with Indonesian soy sauce and fresh chopped tomato.  These meatballs are moist, flavorful and tastes delish!  Makes 2 dozen meatballs.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
  • big pinch of cloves
  • 1 slice of bread soaked in 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 2 Tbs butter for frying (or more)
  • garnish with thinly sliced green onions

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbs Indonesian Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 tomato chopped into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbs butter

In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together all of the meatball ingredients (except butter).  Roll beef mixture into 24 golf ball sized balls.  If the meat is too sticky to handle add a bit of bread crumbs to the mixture.  Heat a large frying pan on a medium flame and add butter.  Add meatballs to the pan, careful not to let them touch.  You may have to brown the meatballs in batches if your pan is too small.  Once the meatballs are evenly browned, add all the meatballs back to the pan, add sauce ingredients and cover.  Cook on low for about a half an hour or 45 minutes, until the tomato has cooked down.  Add additional water if necessary.  Taste the sauce, correct your seasonings and serve.  Makes 24 little appetizers.

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Indonesian Corn Fritters (Perkedel Jagung)

Indonesian Corn Fritters

I have an ugly old recipe box that I have hidden away in the back of a cupboard in my kitchen.  The box is well over twenty five years old and was originally designed to neatly hold 3 by 5 recipe cards.  Instead it is stuffed with recipes written on various sizes of paper of all shapes and color…  If you look closely, I even have a folded up paper plate with a recipe for shrimp sauce from a local restaurant jammed in the front of the box.  My recipe box with its mishmash of old scraps of paper is truly a treasure trove.  While digging through it this morning, I found an old family recipe for Indonesian Corn Fritters.   I had a bag of corn in my freezer and I knew what I was going to make…

My Ugly Old Recipe Box

It’s been years since I have prepared Perkedel Jagung or Indonesian Corn Fritters.   Indonesian Corn Fritters are little fried cakes with whole kernel corn, chopped celery leaves, minced green onions, garlic, coriander, and other spices.   You can eat them plain, drizzle them with sambal oelek or my all time favorite, sweet chili sauce.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound frozen whole corn kernels (defrosted)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 5 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper or to taste
  • oil for frying (I used canola)
  • cilantro for garnish

Grab a food processor.  Add all ingredients except 1/2 of the corn, oil for frying and the cilantro garnish.  Pulse ingredients until well blended.  Don’t over mix.  Add contents of processor into a medium sized bowl.  Add remainder of the corn.  Mix well.

Heat a non stick frying pan.  Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.  Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil on medium high heat.  Fry until golden brown and flip to cook other side.  Cook until done and drain on paper towels.  Add more oil as needed. Garnish with cilantro and drizzle with your favorite sauce.   Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 dozen fritters.

 

 

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Easy Bami Goreng

Easy Bami Goreng

Bami Goreng is an Indonesian fried noodle dish.  Quite frankly, I think that there are as many versions of this dish as there are islands in all of Indonesia.  This recipe for Bami Goreng is what I used to make for myself and friends while I was away studying at college.  My Easy Bami Goreng is ridiculously inexpensive, simple to make, and tastes wonderful.  Not to mention, when you prepare this dish, people really think that you are an exotic cook.

My Easy Bami Goreng is prepared using cheap Oriental flavored ramen noodles, fresh vegetables, garlic, Indonesian soy sauce, cilantro and  fiery sambal oelek.  That’s about it!  You can add cooked chicken, shrimp or tofu if you would like or you can even use whatever vegetables you have on hand.  The flavor combinations you can make with this dish are endless.  Makes 1 big serving. Enjoy! Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ramen noodles (Oriental flavor)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup leeks (cleaned well, white part only, thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (shredded or sliced into match sticks)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Indonesian soy sauce
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbs cilantro chopped plus more for garnish.
  • 1/2 tsp sambal oelek (optional and to taste)

Begin by boiling the water in a saucepan.  Cook ramen noodles for  about  2 1/2 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Do not overcook.  Set aside the spice packet.  In a medium hot wok, add canola oil, onions and leeks.  Stir fry for about 2 minutes or until onions are tender, adding a bit of water if necessary.  Add the carrots, bell pepper, garlic, spice packet and sambal oelek.  Stir fry another 2 minutes.  Add the cooked ramen noodles and Indonesian soy sauce.  Cook until noodles are warmed through.  Add the cilantro.  Toss and serve.  Garnish with fresh sprigs of cilantro.  Makes one big flavorful bowl of cheap tasty noodles!

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Chicken Curry (Kari Ayam)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year for the past seven years I have planted tomatoes in my little pocket garden.  When we first moved into our home, my husband Bruce built me a couple of raised garden beds on the side of our house.  I have tomatoes and other vegetable plants tucked into those garden beds and every available space in our yard that gets over eight hours of sunlight everyday.  It’s now near the end of summer and for the size of my little garden, I am happy to say that I have quite the bumper crop of tomatoes.

Lemon boys and green zebras are the heirloom tomato varieties that I have chosen to use in my Indonesian inspired chicken curry.  I love the vibrant yellow color of the lemon boys in the sauce and the gorgeous green stripes of the green zebras as a garnish. My chicken curry is made with succulent chicken thighs, yellow tomatoes, Indonesian soy sauce, onion, coconut milk and fragrant spices.  Serve this flavorful curry over steamed rice and garnish with green onions and sliced tomatoes.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into large pieces.
  • 1 white onion chopped fine
  • 3 large yellow tomatoes (lemon boy) peeled and quartered
  • 2 Tbls. Indonesian soy sauce
  • 6 oz. can coconut milk
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground lemon grass
  • 1/2 tsp. galangal powder
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • a big pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • water
  • 1 Tbls. canola oil
  • garnish with thin sliced green onions and chopped green zebra tomatoes

In a large hot saute pan, cook the chicken in the canola oil over medium high heat until a gorgeous golden color.  Add your onions and cook until translucent.  Add the tomatoes, soy sauce, coconut milk, spices and a cup of water.  Cook covered until chicken is tender and sauce is thickened (about 30-40 minutes).  Add more water if necessary.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Serve over steamed white rice and garnish with sliced green onions and tomatoes.  Serves 6.

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Indonesian Buffalo Meatloaf Sandwiches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember years ago when my family got its very first microwave oven.  It was the early 1970′s and I will never forget the day when my mother attempted to make a meatloaf in it.  First of all, she had never made meatloaf before and the cookbook that came with the microwave said that it could be done.  She followed that recipe in the book and as a result my poor sister and I had to eat it for dinner.  I honestly have to say that it was “technically” edible but it looked and tasted like a beat up hockey puck.  After that experience, I swore that I would never ever eat meatloaf again…  Not to mention, but that microwave cookbook deserved to be tossed.

Well, I am older, I am wiser and have learned to never say never.  And, most importantly, I don’t cook meatloaf in a microwave.

My recipe for Indonesian Buffalo Meatloaf is a twist on traditional meatloaf but prepared with buffalo (bison) meat and Indonesian soy sauce and spices.  If you don’t have access to ground buffalo, feel free to substitute a high quality low fat ground beef.  This meatloaf is moist, flavorful and any leftovers make the BEST meatloaf sandwiches!  Makes 6 servings.  Enjoy! – Tessa

Meatloaf Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground buffalo
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 c. panko crumbs
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 2 Tbls. Indonesian soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbls. garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbls. tomato ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mace
  • 1 Tbls. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. canola oil

Round up your ingredients.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Chop your onion and sauté in canola oil until translucent.   Cool.  Lightly mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Don’t be afraid to use your hand to mix.  Don’t over mix it unless you like tough meatloaf.  Shape into a loaf shape and put in a greased 9″ X 5″ baking pan.  Now let’s make the sauce.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. tomato ketchup
  • 1 1/2 Tbls. Indonesian Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbls. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Sambal Oelek if you are daring!

Mix together the above sauce ingredients and brush over the meatloaf.  Place in oven uncovered and cook about an hour, reaching an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove meatloaf from your oven and let it rest for about 10 – 12 minutes before you serve it.  The meatloaf will continue to cook for a few more minutes after leaving the oven .  It is important to let rest because it will slice easier and the juices will stay in the meat. Drizzle some Indonesian Soy Sauce over the meatloaf.  Slice and serve.  Got leftovers?  See below…

Sandwich ingredients: 

  • Sliced meatloaf (chilled)
  • fresh sliced tomato
  • lettuce leaf or two
  • clover sprouts
  • leftover meatloaf sauce
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread

If you can make a sandwich, you can make these.  Assemble the sandwich with the above ingredients and slice in half.  Put a pick in each sandwich half to help hold it together.  Serve with bread and butter pickles.

 

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