Cooking in Bali

December 2, 2009

Cooking in Bali

Just occasionally I dream that my life I spent traveling around the globe with my wonderful wife and son, cooking in far off countries, learning World cuisine from everyone’s grandmothers that make the best …..{insert best Grandmother recipe here}.

Then the alcohol wears off just enough for me to regain some sense of reality and for me to remember that I have a stable career here in Seattle, and that a life of traveling would make me miss everything this fantastic part of the US has to offer.

I then start making excuses as to why we don’t travel more… my three year old son often tops that list, but really that has nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. He loves new places and new things. I hate plane rides, especially long ones where I have to answer “are we there yet?” and “I want to get up Daaaaaaaady” overandoverandoverandover again.

So, until I get out of my “far too old git for my own real age” ideas, I have to live vicariously through other people. For that I would like to introduce my brother. Twin brother to be exact. He lives over in Holland, where with the help of his Dutch wife lives out his dream of wearing clogs all day, and learning to talk with an extremely funny accent.

Luck would have it that both of them enjoy traveling. Luck would also have it that they live in a country forward thinking enough to make sure employed get enough time off to go do the traveling they want to do (I cannot argue however, by US standards the company I work for does a bloody good job of that). Last year for them was trekking through Costa Rica. This year took them to the small island of Bali.

Bastards. Complete bastards.

That is one little Indonesian island Danika and I have really wanted to go to. From Seattle however that is a 27hour plane ride. A 27 hour plane ride of “no, don’t kick the seat in front of you…” (even without a toddler that is one heck of a flight).

What made me even more jealous however was a phone call from said brother (Chris) saying “hey Matt, guess what!!! we are doing a Balinese cooking class, do you want us to take photos and write down the recipes?”

Er… let me think…..

Chris is a pretty darn accomplished nature photographer. When he isn’t taking photos of his cats or spiders REALLY close up, he takes some pretty startling shots, and luckily for all of us shows them off on his website – PicturePunk Some more of his bali shots are in there – lots more than just food.

Since making these in Bali, Chris and Marieke (his wife) have successfully recreated these back home in the Netherlands. You are going to need a decent Asian market for some of the ingredients. Either that or a creative flair for substitions.

Timbungan ayam (Clear chicken soup with sliced cassava leaf and garnished with fried shallots)

5 oz chicken, in chunks
3 shallots, chopped & fried
cassave leaves boiled
1 stalk of lemon grass

2 lombok (big red chilli)
1 kemiri nut
1 tsp trassi (shrimp paste)
1 cm ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
¼ nutmeg

Grind the ingredients for the sauce together with the pestle and mortar.
Mix the chicken with the sauce and ¼ cup water
Boil 4 cups of water and and the lemongrass (pounded and halved).
Add the chicken with the sauce to the boiling water.
Bring to the boil and add cassava leaf.
Serve with fried shallots.

Bergedel jagung (corn fritters)

17 oz corn
2 eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic
½ lime
½ lombok (long red chilli)
1 tsp trassi
¼ nutmeg
salt and pepper
coconut oil, to fry

Grind the garlic, chili, nutmeg, trassi, salt and pepper together with the pestle and mortar.
Add the corn and grind it to a pulp with the spices. If necessary, grind the corn up in batches and mix the two batches together afterwards.
Add the eggs and a squeeze of lime juice. Mix well.
Heat 11/2 cups of coconut oil in the wok.
Add the corn mixture, 1 heaped tbsp per fritter. Fry for about 30 seconds per side. Make sure the fritters don’t get stuck together.
Leave to drain on kitchen paper.

Kare ayam (chicken curry)

14 oz chicken, in chunks
2 stalks of lemon grass (halved and pounded)
½ lombok (long red chili)
2 shallots
4 cloves garlic
4 kemiri nuts
11/2 tsp palm sugar
1 cm ginger
1 tsp trassi
¼ nutmeg
½ cm turmeric
½ cm kencur
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
coconut paste

Grind all the spices, except for the lemon grass, together with the pestle & mortar.
Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil and fry the spice paste with the lemon grass for about 30 seconds.
Add the chicken and brown on all sides.
Mix ½ cup water with the coconut paste to form coconut milk. Add this to the chicken and leave to cook for about 10 minutes.

Lawar babi (chopped pork with coconut and Balinese spices)

10 oz finely chopped pork
2 stalks of lemon grass (halved and pounded)
½ lombok (long red chili)
2 shallots
4 cloves garlic
4 kemiri nuts
1 cm ginger
1 tsp trassi
¼ nutmeg
¾ cm koenjit
½ cm kencur
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
7 oz grated fresh coconut
4 oz french beans
4 oz fried shallots

Grind all spices, except for the lemon grass, together with the pestle & mortar.
Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil in the wok and fry the paste for about 30 seconds.
Add the pork and fry it for about 2 minutes.
Add the lemon grass and fry for about 2 minutes.
Add the coconut and fry for about 2 minutes.
Add the beans and fried shallots and fry for a bit.

Gado-gado (blanched vegetables with peanut sauce)

5 oz peanuts with skin, fried
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 clove garlic
½ tsp trassi
½ tsp salt
1 rawit (small red chili)
½ lombok (long red chili)
½ lime
kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)

Grind the peanuts, garlic, chili, sugar, salt and trassi together with the pestle & mortar.
Add a little bit of water to make the sauce thinner and 1 tbsp kecap manis.
Heat 1 cup water in the wok and add peanut sauce. Boil until it reaches the right consistency.
Add a squeeze of lime juice.
Serve the sauce over blanched vegetables, for example a combination of
Chinese cabbage, green beans and beansprouts, but almost any vegetables will work!

Dadar gulung (wheat & tapioca pancake with grated coconut and palm sugar)

2 small coconuts, grated (about 500 g fresh grated coconut)
9 oz palm sugar
7 oz wheat flour
4.5 oz tapioca flour
cocoa powder

Cook the grated coconut with the palm sugar until a sticky mass forms. Take it of the heat and put aside.
Mix the flours and add water to make a batter.
Mix the cocoa powder with ½ cup of water.
Butter a small frying pan. Make lines in the pan with the cocoa powder and add a spoonful of batter to make one pancake. Fry on one side.
Fill the pancakes with 1 tbsp of coconut mixture. Fold the bottom of the pancaka over the mixture and roll over once, fold the sides in and roll up the rest of the pancakes.
Serve with golden syrup.

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  • Vivian December 2, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Wow, fantastic recipe! Thanks for posting it!

  • Talley December 2, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Amazing post. I get that same sort of yearning when I hear of travels like these, and nothing does it more than pictures and stories of local cuisine (especially beautiful ones like these). Thank you so much for posting these recipes, I can’t wait to give them a try. Have you had any success finding things like cassava leaves and kemiri nuts at the asian markets here in Seattle?

  • Peter G December 2, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    I’m very lucky to think Bali is only a 6 hour flight away from Sydney. But it’s ll relative when you consider it takes me about 20 hours to get to Seattle! Love the dishes and the photographs are stunning too!

  • Hélène December 3, 2009 at 12:40 am

    I am so jalous. Can’t wait to travel again when my younger son lives the house. We are fortunate enough that my husband works 6 months a year and I stay home. We have a long list of places to visit around the Globe.

    Those pictures are amazing. I especially love the Kare ayam (chicken curry) pic. So nice to read about your brother. I visited his website and he is an amazing photographer. That runs in the family 🙂

  • Rasa Malaysia December 3, 2009 at 2:11 am

    I looooove Bali, had been there twice. I wanted to own a villa there, when I retire. All the recipes look great. I might have to try the corn fritters. Yummy!!! 🙂

    In Malaysian cuisine, we also have the kuih dadar but the “crepe” is green in color, infused by pandan juice.

  • Stephanie - Wasabimon December 3, 2009 at 2:58 am

    Twin brother? Nice.

    I’ve never been to Bali, but I’ve taken a boatload of cooking classes in Thailand. Next time I go I’m bringing my nice camera so that I can document!

  • zenchef December 3, 2009 at 4:44 am

    You have a twin brother who took those great pictures? You are pretty awesome in the family, aren’t you? 🙂
    A trip to Bali is a dream of mine as well. Now if we could all make this passive income thing work. hehe. Love the recipes. Thanks for sharing!

  • Y December 3, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Food looks awesome! I’ve been to Bali – the food there is amazing and so affordable. Alas, the humidity..

  • Marieke December 3, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Glad you all like the recipes, do try them, they are great!

    @Talley: instead of kemiri nuts you can also use macadamia nuts!

  • Divina December 3, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Thanks for the wonderful recipes and photos. They absolutely amazing.

  • lisaiscooking December 3, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Lovely photos, and the food looks incredible. The chicken curry and corn fritters are making me hungry this morning!

  • noëlle {simmer down!} December 3, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Wow! A big thanks to your brother for sharing this. Gorgeous photos, I especially love the one of all the different foods in the metal bowls.

  • Joyce December 4, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Fantastic fantastic post! Bravo! The kare ayam already tells me it’s gonna be delicious!

  • Sarah December 5, 2009 at 6:29 am

    love the light in your pictures. As a mom of three boys, its either wait until they grow up and I am old before I travel or take them with me. They love traveling and are never more well behaved when they are experiencing the world. We traveled with them to New Zealand (son was one then), Thailand, China, Romania and last summer Alaska, next summer either Albania or Nova Scotia…I am a spoiled brat and always want to go somewhere else

  • Lisa December 6, 2009 at 3:57 am

    I miss Bali!!! I grew up in Indonesia (East Java) half of my life. I live in Chicago now and can hardly find good Indonesian food around. So here I’m now.. try to learn to recreate those wonderful dishes at home for my kids to try as well. Thanks for posting this, I will try them and compare some of the recipes from my local friends.

  • Lisa December 6, 2009 at 4:00 am

    Sorry.. forgot to mention earlier.. we call the corn fritters as “Perkedel Jagung” with a “P” not “B” 🙂

  • Steve December 7, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Great post! Really enjoyed reading it!

  • Adelina December 9, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Local/ international cusines always intrigue and excites me! Love these images that you took – there’s a quality of earthiness and simplicity to it, especially the brick “oven” (it’s something I’m so much in love with that I’m sure one of these days I’ll have to build one in my kitchen!!!)

    Thanks for posting and for sharing!

  • Brooke @ Food Woolf December 11, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Honestly, you and your brother have such a similar eye. I would have sworn YOU shot those photos. What a great guest post. Thanks for sharing.

  • mina February 13, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    beautiful photos! did you happen to get the name/location of the cooking class? i am going to bali on 1st april and i’d love to get in on that. ^^

  • Progeria April 21, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Hey there, I’ve tried some photography myself and from that experience I like to say something. When it comes to photos regarding food, the photographer has to make the food look for the people to want to eat. When taking such pics in studios, we can add liquids, remove bad food and stuff like that to make the picture look good. But when travelling and taking pictures of food preparation from different cultures, as they are being made, it is very tough to capture something beautiful. Here you have excelled in that beautifully and they all look gorgeous. And great recipes too, thanks for the post.