May 9, 2012 12:46 - annadewinter | 1,428 views
There are over 18,000 separate islands making up the Indonesian archipelago in SE Asia, and due to constant movement of peoples down the centuries the cuisine is as diverse as the population. Most of the people of Indonesia dine out rather than cook at home, because as well as the vast numbers of great and often world-class restaurants there are also swarms of cheap ‘warung’ food stalls selling basic fresh food, prepared in a bewildering variety of ways.
Indonesian cuisine is more oriented towards a vegetarian diet than a carnivorous one, and it’s easy to understand why when you see the natural resources available here. Tropical fruits are available all year round and coffee is an intrinsic part of daily life because of the great coffee plantations on the islands. This is
incidentally, normally drunk unfiltered, and the dregs have to be allowed to settle.
The basic foodstuffs are coriander, coconut, chili, ginger, galangal, garlic, palm sugar, noodles, lime, shallots, rice, peanuts, salam leaf, tamarind, shrimp paste and tempeh. From these basics plus a few additional odds and ends a fantastic variety of spicy and exotic dishes can be made, which are nourishing and healthy as well as exciting, and it’s easy to reproduce most of them whilst on vacation in a Bali luxury villa.
Stir-frying is the most common method of food preparation in Indonesia and in the Far East in general, where small cuts are cooked quickly over a high heat. This is easily achieved in a wok, and the minerals and vitamins are sealed in by this cooking method.
Deep-frying is normally only used for cooking crackers and spring rolls, although with some recipes it is used for meats, to give them a crunchy coating. The food floats in a deep pan of oil whilst cooking, a method known as ‘swimming’, and you can do this in a wok too.
Steaming and stewing
Steaming and stewing are also popular Indonesian cooking methods, with the ubiquitous dish Dim Sum for example, consisting of meats, vegetarian elements and seafood, prepared by steaming. Stewing is reserved for cuts of meat like chicken legs and beef shanks for curries that require longer cooking times.
Like many of the Indonesian islands, Bali has its own local cuisine, in this case known as Masakan. Rice is the staple element but pork and vegetables are often added along with some chili.
Lawar is the most famous Balinese dish. It is made from pig’s blood and a range of spices such as shrimp paste and kunyit, galangal and various roots. Optionally, green beans, grated coconut, singkong leaves and boiled young jackfruit can be blended in for extra flavor.
Babi Quling is also hugely popular here, and as Bali isn’t Islamic like the rest of Indonesia, there is no taboo on pork products. A young suckling pig is roasted on a spit and cooked until tender, then served with spiced rice and noodles. This dish is best sampled in authentic Bali restaurants as it takes some time to prepare. All of the other traditional recipes of Bali and Indonesia can easily be reproduced in any kitchen, as long as it has a wok and a heat source. All of the required spices are readily available in local markets.
» Filed Under Cultural TravelComments