Thursday, 23 September 2010

Sambal ulek (chilli & tomato sauce)

Sambal ulek is one of Mrs K's star dishes. It's a smooth chilli sauce that's actually one of her simplest recipes (it doesn't even need a video!). 'Ulek' is the Indonesian name for a stone pestle (you will often see it spelled the Dutch way 'oelek'). Mrs K doesn't use an ulek as it takes forever - a hand blender is a perfect substitute and gives a much smoother result. You could use a food processor, but it would probably get stained unless it has a glass bowl.

This sambal can be used for anything - it's almost Mrs K's equivalent of tomato ketchup; perfect as a dip or pouring sauce, in cooking or even in your sandwiches. It can be as fiery or as mild as you wish - just pick the strength of red chillies you're comfortable with. In this batch we made, Mrs K used a mixture including birds' eye chillies and Scotch Bonnets. Needless to say it was extremely potent. The quantities used here make 5 small (300g) bottles, and cooking time is under an hour.

An aside: The joy of chillies

We were alerted to this excellent article in the New York Times about why chillies are so addictive. Seems that scientists seem to think there's an element of masochism involved. Mrs K has her own pet theory, and it's a lot simpler: she says chillies are great 'because they taste good'. And you can't argue with that.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Taste Test: Madam Sal's Malay Fried Rice

We found this lurking on the shelf in Tesco and were intrigued. We've no idea who Madam Sal is, but the picture looked semi-appetising so we thought we'd give it a try.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Taste Test: Instant nasi goreng

We heard that one of our readers, who shall remain nameless, was so inspired by Mrs K's nasi goreng recipe that they went out looking for an instant version in the shops. Sad, but true. But it did give us an idea - Taste Tests. These are where we take some off-the-shelf products and use Mrs K's culinary wizardry and Mr K's stomach to see what they taste like.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Instant noodles

Instant noodles are great. They're cheap, quick to cook and amazingly versatile, as we hope to prove with this recipe. It's hardly an Indonesian dish at all, but Indonesians eat vast quantities of the stuff (as does Mr K) so it definitely deserves a place here.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Kari Ayam (chicken curry)

There must be at least a gazillion types of curry (kari) in the world, so another one won't go amiss. This one is very mild and 'wet' - there's no thickening used. Without the chilli, our young grandkids love it. We introduce a yummy new ingredient too - coconut milk. Cooking time is about 30-40 minutes and the quantities below will easily feed four people. Or Mr K when he's dieting.

Note that you can use any kind of fresh or frozen chicken - we used four frozen chicken thighs, defrosting them and taking the meat off the bone (taste tip: Mrs K then boiled up the thigh bones for about 20 minutes, strained off the water and used it to boil the rice in).

Friday, 10 September 2010

Krupuk (prawn crackers)

If you're used to the tasteless prawn crackers usually served with takeway meals, be prepared for a shock. The Indonesians are masters at creating weird and wonderful variations on the theme, not all of them strictly prawn crackers, but crackers nonetheless, and they're all cooked in the same way - deep frying. They are universally eaten as an accompaniment to almost any meal, or simply as a crunchy snack.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Nasi goreng kambing (fried rice with lamb)

Nasi goreng (nasi = rice, goreng = fried) is another one of those dishes with almost infinite variations - every Indonesian cook has their own way of doing things, and Mrs K is no exception. It can be anything from a quick plain dish with a dollop of chilli sauce to hoover up leftover rice, or a star attraction on its own, with fried chicken or sate accompaniments.

Here's a typical quick recipe that Mrs K uses when she doesn't have too much time to faff about. It should only take about 10 minutes once you've prepared the ingredients. Although this uses lamb (kambing is actually Indonesian for goat but that's pretty rare in Western supermarkets!), if you hate that you can use minced beef or chicken.

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Click on the link below if this is of interest. Feedburner (which is owned by Google) will then send you a confirmation email, follow the instructions and you're done. You'll only be sent an email when there's a new post, and you can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the emails.

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Tempeh? What's that?

Fresh tempeh (image © Sakurai Midori)
Tempeh is wonderful, but elusive stuff. We used to buy it frozen from the Holland & Barrett health food stores, but they've stopped stocking it. It seems like the only commercial UK supplier is Impulse Foods, and there are a few sites selling their frozen tempeh, such as Goodness Direct.

But what is it? It is actually very simple, consisting of fermented, cooked soybeans (the site has everything you need to know) formed into a firm cake that can be sliced and fried, or mixed with other dishes. It's popular with vegetarians as an alternative to bacon or even hamburgers. We love it, but sadly haven't bought any for ages, so we were looking round the web thinking of ordering some (you can it get in  London's Chinatown or Wembley Sunday Market fairly easily, but we haven't been to town for a while). Our friendly local Chinese store doesn't have any, but they're looking into it.

Sliced raw tempeh (image © FotoosVanRobin)
Then Mr K suggested trying to make it ourselves - by all accounts it's a simple process, and you can get a free sample of the starter culture from The main barrier is the incubator, as the tempeh needs to be kept at around 30°C for a couple of days. One blog suggested you can use an oven with just the light on, so we're experimenting at the moment to see how warm that gets. Mrs K isn't totally convinced, but she's happy to give it a go. Of course, then comes the problem of finding de-hulled soybeans - apparently de-hulling them yourself is a bit tedious.

If we go ahead, we'll let you know how we get on, but we're determined to get some tempeh soon one way or another because it's so delicious and very versatile for cooking.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Soto Ayam (chicken broth)

Soto Ayam (soto = broth, ayam = chicken) is one of Mrs K's all-time favourites. It's quick, simple and perfect for a light meal. These quantities will easily feed four people. Or three hungry ones.

Perfect rice

Cooking rice (nasi) is one of those things that drives most people nuts. A lot of this is self-inflicted; us British are certainly obsessed with having the rice grains separate, something I'm sure was promoted by Vesta back in the 70s to justify their chewy 'instant' curries.

To most Indonesians, this is half-cooked rice - as their favourite way of eating is with hands only, they prefer a stickier consistency that can easily be grabbed off a plate. Anyway, Mrs K has her own tips and tricks, as usual.

Sambal Goreng Tomat (fried chilli & tomato relish)

Everyone who has tried Mrs K's chilli sauces has fallen in love with them. Here's how she makes one variety, a quick and simple sauce that she calls sambal goreng tomat (sambal = chilli sauce, goreng = fried, tomat = take a wild guess).

There are endless varieties of sambal - we hope to cover some of these in future posts. There are also endless conflicting descriptions on the web about what sambal goreng actually is - but we don't care; this is Mrs K's blog, and what she says goes. So there.

All the ingredients should be readily available in any supermarket, but remember that none of the quantities are critical - experiment as you feel fit. These quantities will produce about 3-4 jam jars of sauce, and the cooking time's about 45 minutes. One added bonus of the dish is that it gives you a supply of delicious chilli-flavoured oil that you can use for cooking.