RECIPE OF THE MONTH: Balinese-style Paella

 

Paella

 

So here it is! Casa Luna’s signature dish, which was inspired by – you guessed it – a trip to
Spain. I devoured paella nearly every day when I visited in 1991, and in Madrid in the
midst of probably my tenth version, I had an epiphany, or rather one of those ‘what’s all
the fuss about this dish’ moments, and realised I could create a superb Balinese paella
adding a little mystique of the spice islands.

Our paella is an elegant celebration of seafood as well as a meeting of Bali and the
Mediterranean – the flash of the flamenco is introduced to the shimmer of the legong,
Bali’s famous traditional dance. It has been one of the most popular items on our menu
since we opened our large wooden doors in 1992. In actual fact, our dish is not truly a
paella, but a spiced mixture of fish, prawns, calamari, clams and vegetables in a rich
tomato sauce, served on a bed of fragrant yellow rice.

My advice when cooking this recipe is to be patient and walk, or rather, flamenco
through the list of ingredients. If it makes you feel more confident, do what the cooks in
the Casa Luna kitchen do, be cheeky, laugh, and crack some ribald Benny Hill-style jokes.

Add a glass of wine to that and you will make yourself a masterpiece!

TOMATO SAUCE

1 kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste (optional, for a deeper colour)
8 garlic cloves
8 red shallots, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated palm sugar
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons oil
125 ml oil
6 raw prawns, shelled and de-veined but heads left in tact
200 g white fish fillets, cut into fat chunks
6 garlic cloves chopped
2 medium red shallots, chopped
¼ medium onion, chopped
2 long red chillies, finely sliced
3 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
200mls chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
6 clams, boiled in salted water until opened
6 calamari rings
1 small carrot, julienned
15 snow peas
4 kaffir lime leaves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups hot Fragrant Yellow Rice (page 000)
lemon basil leaves
wedges of lime

Put the tomato sauce ingredients other than the oil in a food processor and blitz to a
chunky sauce.

Heat the oil in a wok over low heat.

Stir in the tomato sauce and bay leaves and simmer for around an hour, until the oil rises to the surface. Taste for seasoning and spoon into a bowl. Wipe out the wok.

To make the paella, heat the oil in the wok over medium heat and toss in the prawns.

Fry for a minute, or until their flesh has just turned white. Remove from the wok with a
slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.

Throw the chunks of fish into the wok and lower the heat a little. Toss around for
about 2 minutes, until just sealed all over. Remove to the plate of prawns.

Add the garlic, shallots, onion, chilli, lime leaves and ginger to the remaining oil in the
wok and toss around for 30 seconds.

Add 6 heaped tablespoons of the tomato sauce, along with the chicken stock ,
lime leaves and fish sauce and bring to a simmer.

Return the fish and prawns to the wok followed by the clams in their shells.

Simmer for a minute, then add the calamari, carrot and snow peas.
Cook until the calamari turns white. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the seafood and sauce on a bed of hot yellow rice. Scatter with lemon basil leaves

and serve with wedges of lime.

Serves 4

Food as Medicine Spice Tour

25 Nov-3 Dec

Early Bird Ends 31 Aug

Janet Banda Trip

 

It’s the year of the humble nutmeg and the Banda Islands. Join me on a cruise to the legendary spice islands and the island of Banda Neira and Run, inhaling history that changed the world, in between glorious Indonesian meals, trekking, snorkelling, swimming, and simply relaxing on pristine waters. Early bird special prices of AUD 3,900 ends 30 Aug. Deposit required. Contact pa@janetdeneefe.com for more information.

 

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Chargrilled Squid

chargrilled squid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This is one of the many barbecued dishes that are served by the sea at Jimbaran. In what
was formally a rustic coastal eating place dotted with simple grass huts, there are now
hundreds of bamboo tables and chairs perched on the sand, and tonnes of seafood being
served, from prawns to lobster and snapper to squid, for eager tourists. The secret at
Jimbaran is cooking the seafood over coconut husks for a delectable smokiness, and the
moist heat of the husks creates tender meat with glazed and burnished skin without
dryness. If you are flying into Denpasar at night, the smoke from the barbecues at
Jimbaran bay looks like an enormous bushfire.
This is a simple marinade and you can add any additional herbs. A bonus is that the
marinade can be prepared up to two weeks in advance and kept in the refrigerator.

MARINADE
100 ml vegetable or peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1–2 tablespoons kecap manis
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
5 kaffir lime leaves, rolled into a bundle and finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 kg squid, cleaned
Tomato Sambal (page 000) to serve
lime wedges to serve
Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Cut the squid into 10 cm tubes and quarter the tentacles lengthwise. Add to the
marinade, coating well, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat a barbecue grill. Lift the squid out of the marinade and place on the grill. Cook,
turning occasionally and basting with the marinade, until golden brown and just cooked.
It should only take a few minutes.
Serve with tomato sambal and wedges of lime.

Serves 4

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Gado Gado

gado gado

Another Indonesian dish that varies from island to island. In Bali, Gado-Gado or jukut mesantok, as it is known in Bali, consist of spinach, bean sprouts, snack beans, tofu and rice cake. It is served in small warungs or sold by street vendors, who mix the sauce to order using a large mortar and pestle. It is then tossed with the vegetables and served in a banana leaf. In Java, Gado-Gado is served with a wider variety of vegetables, often including potato and cabbage. Therefore, the choice is yours.

Allow 200 grams of vegetables per person…..

Bean sprouts, spinach, beans, potato, broccoli, cauliflower
Cabbage, carrot, snow peas, cucumber, tomato wedges
Fried tempe or tofu, hard-boiled egg
Peanut sauce
Quartered or finely sliced krupuk udang (prawn crackers) or krupuk emping

Prepare the vegetables by boiling, steaming, and so forth.Slice  into bite-sized pieces or any manner you prefer and arrange on a platter, either in layers or mixed.
Top with fried tempe, tofu and hard-boiled egg, and pour peanut sauce over all. Garnish with shrimp crackers or fried shallot, wedges of tomato and cucumber.

To Serve : Gado-Gado may be served warm or chilled.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK | Tamarind-chilli fruit salad – Rujak

One of Indonesia’s national treasures, and also found in Malaysia and Singapore, rujak, is the ubiquitous afternoon snack. When the sun starts its descent and the heat of the day starts to dull the brain, just about every Balinese I know tucks into this action-packed fruit salad with a savoury dressing that is guaranteed to slap you out of a tropical slump.

Tamarind_blog

It combines the energizing four pillars of Asian cooking: sweet, sour, spicy and salty, and it clears the mind, refreshes the palette, speeds up the metabolism and offers a generous dose of vitamin C, iron, folic acid and calcium. Pregnant women crave its strong flavours, and rightly so.

As soon as my children are home from school, they feast on rujak mixed with any amount of seasonal fruit. My son, Krishna, loves it with pomelo, grapefruit and orange, while my daughters love it with grated carrot, red papaya and tomato. Most men I know prefer to eat rujak at the local warung (food stall), so that this addictive afternoon snack includes a little cuci mata, which translates as ‘washing of the eyes’ but really means admiring the bunga desa – the village ‘flowers’ on the street, of which Bali seems to have more than its fair share!

There are several types of rujak, but in Bali it is usually based on a dressing of palm sugar, tamarind, chilli and shrimp paste. You can use fish sauce or dried prawns instead of shrimp paste, and vegetarians can leave out the fish factor altogether. Kecap manis can also be used in place of the palm sugar. The dressing can double as a superb marinade for meat, seafood, tofu, eggplant, mushrooms and more. Drizzle it over an Asian ’slaw or use it as a dip for spring rolls, chicken wings or samosas. Rujak is the perfect starter for any Indonesian meal or it can be served as a lively salad with a main course.

  • 3 cups thinly sliced fruit and certain vegetables, such as ripe mango, pineapple, apple, red papaya, pink grapefruit, orange, tomato and cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 small red chillies
  • 1⁄2 – 1 teaspoon shrimp paste, roasted
  • 5 tablespoons tamarind pulp, mixed with 1/2 cup water and strained 6 tablespoons palm-sugar, grated
  • sea salt to taste

Put your choice of fruit and vegetables in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt and the water. Mix well and place in the refrigerator and leave for an hour. The salt will tenderise and extract any bitterness from the fruit and vegetables.

Put the chillies, shrimp paste and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a mortar and pound until the seeds of the chillies are crushed and the skin has broken down somewhat. Add the tamarind and lightly crush the pulp without breaking the seeds. Stir in the palm-sugar syrup. (Alternatively, you can make the dressing in a blender, but make sure you remove the tamarind seeds first. )

Drain the fruit and vegetables and toss with the dressing. Taste for a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours, and adjust if needed. There will probably be tamarind seeds left behind. Make sure you don’t eat these!

Serves 4

Discover more amazing Indonesian recipes from my cookbook Bali: Food of My Island Home

Curry

You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
That’s Why I’ll Always Stay Around
You Are The Apple Of My Eye
Forever You’ll Stay In My Heart

Stevie Wonder.

 

Breakfast at the Four Seasons in Jakarta, the morning after the Jakarta Post 25th anniversary celebration with the effects of a few too many “sherbets” making me feel a little under par (don’t you just love parties).

The smooth sounds of The Ireng Maulana band playing “You are the sunshine of my life” still humming in my ears. I was looking for a soft tender meal to start the day; one that would bring me back to the land of rosy cheeks and boundless energy.   Rows of bain-maries filled with  sausages, bacon, potato roesti and baked beans beckoned. I glanced at the pastry section; croissants, Danish pastries and multi-grain breads. Sliced fruits, dazzling in their arrangement, tempted me like Eve’s apple.  How to resist?

But then… like Pepé le Pew in one of those love-struck moments when stars appear in your eyes and you go all quivery at the knees, I spotted the server of my choice – Indonesian curries, beans with tempe and lontong, compressed rice cake, sambals and more. Dare I say I was smitten and love-blinded at once? I piled my breakfast plate high (sorry, Vikram, but what’s a girl to do?). The flavours were sublime and each mouthful presented a new taste sensation.

My thoughts drifted off to ‘curries’ and its many incarnations across the archipelago and beyond. Don’t you love how the mere taste of a dish can send you into a global culinary spin? The power of food does this to you, or, at least, to me. My mind floated down the Ganges, through tropical jungles, paddy fields and other exotic curry-eating destinations.

Can you imagine a world without curry? Heavens, no! But let’s start with the word “curry”.  Said to be an anglicized version of the Tamil word, kari, which is, in fact, a type of vegetable stew that is eaten with rice. The word itself is believed to simply mean “gravy”. Nowadays, in the Western world, it is synonymous with any dish that is simmered in coconut milk seasoned with a commercial curry powder or spice paste.

In Britain, the favourite curry dish is Chicken tikka masala. Marks & Spencer sells about 19 tonnes of the chicken tikka masala curry every week and 23 million portions a year are sold in Britain’s more than 8,000 Indian restaurants, many of which are located in and around London. Former foreign secretary Robin Cook announced that chicken tikka masala had become ‘Britain’s national dish’ thus demoting fish and chips to second place.

Back to the emerald isles of Indonesia. Gulai, kari, kalio and opor are what you might call Indonesian curries. In Bali, my favourite jackfruit dish, jukut nangka, is affectionately called a curry in English, although it bears no resemblance to a Indian curry and does not usually contain coconut milk. In reality, it is more like a stew but let’s face it, “curry” sounds more luscious.

There’s something about a curry that conjures up a dreamy blanket of seductive flavours, like snuggling under a duvet on a cold winter’s night, with a chilled champagne.

There are wet curries and dry curries. Rendang, from West Sumatra, is a perfect example of a slow-cooked dry curry and reigns supreme in the flavour department. You can find rendang in all Padang restaurants across Indonesia. And what a divine dish. I remember in my early days in Bali, a visit to Denpasar was always timed to include an early lunch at the Padang restaurant in Batu Bulan, just as the steaming bowls of beef and chicken rendang, cassava leaves, green chilli sambal and others were pouring forth from the kitchen.

Another favourite Indonesian curry is gulai, especially gulai kambing or goat curry. Gulai kambing is the star on the menu of the village “bazaar” events that the Balinese hold to raise money for their temples and so forth.  In my family, it goes without saying that a meal at these gatherings must include a bowl of soupy gulai kambing with rice.

Opor Ayam or white chicken curry is another perennial favourite that I overdose on every time I go to Yogjakarta. In this land of lesehan or street-side cafes, I sit back and relish each mouthful of tender chicken bathed in a gentle coconut milk gravy while serenading street musicians hover around strumming their guitars. As for lontong cap gomeh – I confess I’m an addict. And then there are my favourite Balinese curries that include torch ginger or a touch of long pepper and nutmeg, the queen of sleep.

But what makes a curry so divine?  For me, it’s the delicate balance of fresh gingers: of galangal, turmeric, ginger and kencur; and the layers of subtle flavours  born of coriander seeds,  lemongrass, chilli, lime leaves and more. Coconut milk adds an elegant finishing touch.

Indonesian curries are the symbol of a nation; of home-cooking that represents the bounty of Indonesia, a succinct blend of vitality and sunshine, of simmered flavours born of the Spice Islands. Unity in diversity. They capture the majesty of the East in all its finery, from sunburnt yellows to the deepest fragrant browns. So let us rejoice in a dish that charms the most jaded spirit; that hugs and kisses in the warmest way.

And if you have a favourite curry recipe to share please send it my way……..”forever you’ll stay in my heart.”

 

© Janet De Neefe 2008