Posts Tagged ‘indonesian cooking’

fish and soy sauce

April 20, 2008

Some friends had lovingly introduced us to Swedish surströmming (see this story). As a matter of returning a favor, we exposed them a little later to our experiments in Indonesian cooking. One of the recipes that I tried on one of these occasions was Bandeng bumbu ketjap, according to the Dutch-Indonesian Keijner cookbook (I have also posted here about this book).

Bandeng is Milkfish. I must admit that I do not know its taste. Everyone says that mackerel is a good substitute for Bandeng. On the other hand, it seems rather unlikely to me that mackerel works as a substitute for anything else than mackerel.

In any case, there was no Bandeng in Borås at the time, so I did take mackerel for this recipe. (more…)


the funny peté bean

February 28, 2008

Sator, or stink (or stinky) bean, is used in Thai and Indonesian cooking. In Holland it is most of the time called Peté in a modernized frenchified spelling.

We are talking about beans of the shape of a thumbnail or slightly larger, and about as thick as half a pencil. Their color is most inspiring: a difficult to define, solid pastel green that lacks most of the watery translucency normally associated with peas and green beans. Through their appearance alone, peté beans speak to us of far away countries and unknown customs. In one of Louis Couperus’s numerous novels (I forget which), a colonial poisoning during an extended meal has to take place. In the Dutch filmed version this event is duly introduced by showing how a large dish of peté beans in a hot red pepper sambal is being brought into the dining hall. In the subdued lighting and the stuffy late-nineteenth century setting they wink at us, out of their red sauce, in a most sinister way. Long before there are actual deaths to report, we shiver and huddle together. (more…)

peanut sauce, an improvisation

January 27, 2008

This recipe is the result of an emergency: none of my tradition-based Indonesian cookbooks mentions a straightforward peanut sauce like they are served all over the place. Quite some of the satay recipes I’ve seen use candle nuts (kemirie), which are oily, hazelnut-shaped yellow-white nuts not unlike macadamia nuts. They are usually first roasted and then ground into a paste. According to all the information I could get they are not good for consumption in their raw state. They taste inspiringly exotic, but not like peanuts. And that’s what we want here: peanuts.

In fact lots of them, which means that the lean, sweet and lemony variants as served in modern town restaurants don’t appeal to me. Let’s try something of our own. (more…)

colonial cookbooks

December 15, 2007

Two important Indonesian cookbooks, written in Dutch, were originally meant to help the Dutch handschoenbruidjes, that is young women who married a man who was serving in the colonies, with their exotic culinary enterprises. Both books exist in relatively modern Dutch editions.

The content of the bigger one of these, Het nieuw Indonesisch Kookboek by J.M.J. Catenius-van der Meyden, has been modernized in the last edition from 1983. When I mentioned this work at the small Indonesian Toko (a traditional home-cooking takeaway place) in the Amsterdam Utrechtsestraat, the owners abandoned their tasks and came forward to discuss cookbooks with me. They were in fact using the original version of the book for their own cooking, and they were furious about the altered recipes of the last edition. According to them, many of the spice-relationships had been completely upset, and the replacement of the command “grind finely” (in a mortar) by “chop very finely” was a silly outrage. (more…)