RECIPE OF THE WEEK | Javanese tofu and scallop curry (Opor tahu dan scallops)

Opor, a dish from central Java, is usually described as a white curry. However this description does not do justice to dishes’ dreamy and alluring flavours of galangal, ginger and lemongrass combined with mild green chillies. For me, opor is the quintessential Javanese dish: subtle, creamy and aromatic. In this modern interpretation I have selected scallops to partner tofu, to create what I think it a supremely elegant curry. It’s the kind of meal to serve your girlfriends for lunch, on a day when you have plenty of time and loads to chat and giggle about – alongside free-flowing bubbly of course!

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  • 8 scallops
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind pulp soaked in 2 tablespoons of water, strained 3 tablespoons oil
  • 100 g tofu, cut into a size to match the scallops
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised and tied in knots
  • 3 salam leaves
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fried shallots
  • 2 teaspoons grated palm sugar
  • sea salt

SPICE PASTE

  • 3 red shallots, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 long green chillies, roughly chopped 2 small green chillies, roughly chopped 3 tablespoons chopped galangal
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 5 candlenuts
  • 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste

Mix the scallops with the tamarind water and set aside.
Pound the spice paste ingredients to a smooth paste in a mortar, or blitz in a food processor with a little water if necessary to get the mixture moving.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and fry the spice paste for 30 seconds.

Add the lemongrass, salam leaves and lime leaves and fry for another 20 seconds, until glossy and fragrant. Strain the scallops and throw them into the wok. Toss them around until seared, then add the tofu and toss gently for a few more seconds. Add the coconut milk, fried shallots, palm sugar and some salt and simmer gently for a minute, until slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning and serve with steamed rice.

Serves 4

Discover more recipes in my book Bali: Food of My Island Home

RECIPE OF THE WEEK | Balinese Beef Rendang – Rendang Sapi

In keeping with Hindu dietary restrictions, beef is seldom served in a Balinese household. That doesn’t mean it’s forbidden though! Meat in Bali, is always cooked with a pile of fresh spices that tenderize, preserve, uplift and nurture. It’s also about aiding digestion and a dash of tamarind, a few sprightly gingers and lemongrass will always help that process.

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This recipe is a Balinese version of rendang and spotlights the acclaimed trio of galangal, turmeric and ginger, that constantly feature in Indonesian cooking. It has all the virtues of a slow-cooked stew; comforting, full of flavour, tender and deeply aromatic. It is also a joy to cook as the aroma that floats around the house, while the curry is simmering in the pot, is glorious.

SPICE PASTE

  • 8 red shallots, roughly chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 6 long red chillies, seeded and roughly chopped 4 tablespoons chopped galangal
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 6 candlenuts, dry-roasted in a wok
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cummin
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised and tied in knots
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 salam leaves
  • 500 ml coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 500 g beef topside, in curry-size chunks
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp, mixed with a 1⁄4 cup water and strained
  • 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar
  • fried shallots to garnish

Pound the spice paste ingredients to a smooth paste in a mortar, or blitz in a food processor with a little water if necessary to get the mixture moving.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and fry the spice paste for 30 seconds. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves and salam leaves and toss around for another 30 seconds, until glossy and fragrant. Pour in the coconut milk and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for another minute, then add the sliced beef, tamarind and palm sugar. Simmer for 2 hours, until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick and reduced.

Serve with steamed rice, topped with fried shallots. Serves 4

You can discover more recipes in my book Bali: Food of My Island Home