Sharing the Love (of Okra)

Beef Recipes, Others, stew

Cooking and writing actually calm me down. And lately, I think I would not be the only one needing to simmer down. With the news being like they are, from here and there and everywhere, it is hard to disengage from it and not be angry at the world. But anyway, today is a new day and I will do my best to contribute love by cooking and writing more.

I fell in love with Okra because of Leena, a dear friend of mine in Chicago. Many years ago, Farah and I came by Leena’s house for dinner. She had prepared her fabulous Syrian stew made of okra and beef in this tomato broth (bamya). I was hooked and I would always order that stew whenever Jeff and I went to Mediterranean restaurants. I asked Leena for a recipe a while back but I never got a chance to make it. A few weeks ago, after a year of moving back to Indonesia, I began to miss all sorts of non-Indonesian cuisines. I thought of bamya. Found that recipe in my email and it was dated December 2013. That felt like a lifetime ago. Before Jeff and I bought a house in Michigan, before we had our daughter, before we sold the house, before we moved back to our homeland. Why does time move even faster once we hit 30, 35, or 36?

Anyway, I dedicate this article to my beloved, beautiful, fashion-inspiration source, Syrian friend, whose friendship I treasure, and whose homeland has been on my mind.

Below is her Okra Stew recipe, with a little bit of my touch

1 bag of fresh okra (here in Surabaya, the stores carry them fresh. One bag contains maybe 10-15 okras.) – Chopped into little cuts.
1 lb. (or 1/4 kg works too) beef stew meat
1 small onion – diced
4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
3 fresh tomatoes – diced
Salt, pepper, basil, and oregano to taste
Jasmine rice
I added: a handful of parsley, a pinch cumin powder, coriander powder, and chili powder.
Prepare beef stew :
  • Heat up a little bit of canola oil, add onions. Cook for two minutes.
  • Add beef and cook to well done. Set aside.
  • In a deep saucepan, heat some oil and saute the garlic until pink.  Add okra.  With a wooden spoon, gently toss on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until “slimy strings” disappear.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the beef and tomatoes to the okra pot. Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • I add chopped parsley, oregano, cumin, coriander, and chili powder to taste and let simmer for another 15 minutes more until everything is cooked and melded together. The okra should be so nice and tender once they are done cooking. Serve hot and with rice.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!



Beef and Onion Soup

Beef Recipes, Soup

(My version of Semur Daging. Origin: Indonesia)

Spring has been generous with its rain this year. In this cloudy, cold, and wet day, some hearty soup feels appropriate. My husband makes this wonderful Beef and Onion in Tomato-based soup. There’s a little sweetness that comes from the sauteed onions that is complemented nicely by the tomatoes. The spices add a nice punch into the soup, making the beef and potatoes flavorful. Here is his recipe, a huge favorite in our home.

Beef and Onion Soup

Beef and Onion Soup


  • 1 sweet onion (sliced)
  • 3 garlic (chopped)
  • 1 pound of rib eye cut of beef (cut into thin slices)
  • 2 medium size tomatoes (sliced)
  • 1 small potato (cut into little squares)
  • A pinch of clove powder (Really, just a little dash, please. Clove is pretty strong. A little goes a long way.)
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg powder ( I like to add nutmeg to this soup)
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce (can be found in Asian grocery store)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil


  • Heat up a medium size pot and add oil
  • Saute the onions until they become translucent
  • Add garlic and thin sliced beef into the pot and cook them with the onions for a minute
  • Add water to fill the pot halfway and bring to a boil
  • Once it simmers, add tomato slices, potato, clove, coriander, nutmeg, cayenne, sweet soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix everything well. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook for 20–30 minutes until the beef and potato are cooked thoroughly and the tomato is dissolved.





Beef Chorizo Mini Burger

Beef Recipes, Burger

Whoa! Is it really the end of August already? What a fleeting summer it has been! It sure has been great one too though, thank goodness! Jeff and I have been hanging out and catching up with friends, staying outside, hiking, cycling, camping, swimming, and of course…grilling! I think I may have gone grill crazy this summer. I have done: lobster tail, shrimp, steak, lamb chops, chicken satay, burgers, eggplant, peppers, asparagus, and the list can go on. Yet, I still can’t get enough of grilling :).

Speaking of grilling, here’s another recipe I’d like to share: Beef Chorizo Mini Burger (I’ve also done the Beef Chorizo Sloppy Joe). Yes, I LOVE chorizo‘s seasonings, which definitely adds a little zing to the meat. It’s got smokiness, fantastic aroma, and spiciness. Yumm! Normally, chorizo comes in a form of a sausage. But since I wanted to make a beef burger with chorizo seasonings, I tweaked this recipe I found online and made it fit my plan.

I followed the original recipe (click here: Mexican Chorizo Sausage Recipe) with minor adjustments such as:

  • I substituted pork with ground beef. I think ground turkey would be great too.
  • I did not have ground cloves at the time so I went without.

As directed, I:

  • Mixed the ground beef with smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic, salt, ground pepper, oregano, coriander, cumin, distilled white vinegar, and water.
  • Sealed it in a ziplock bag and refrigerated it for a few hours
  • Made it into mini burger patties, grilled, and served them with sweet dinner roll

Note: If you prefer to have the chorizo burger to be on the milder side, do three tablespoon of paprika and one tablespoon of chili powder (instead of two for each).

Thanks for reading and I hope you’re having a great day wherever you are!

Easy Summer Menu: Baked Martabak (Martabak Panggang)

Appetizer, Beef Recipes

Summer is almost here! Time to slow down and enjoy the gorgeous days. As we ease into the warmest season of the year, I plan to stay cool and light in both what I wear and what I cook/eat.  So for food, I am compiling recipes that might go well with my idea of summer menu: simple, light, and delicious. One dish that I thought about immediately was martabak, one of my favorite street food in Indonesia.

Baked Martabak

Recently, inspired by a recipe I found online, I baked martabak instead of following the street vendor’s traditional way: frying (less oil mess, less stress). They came out crispy and delicious.

Here’s my version:

(Make 8-10 martabak)


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pound of sirloin ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 3 bunches of scallions (chopped)
  • 1 egg for eggwash
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder
  • Salt


Making the mixture:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium pan (over medium heat)
  • Add garlic and let it sizzle for two minutes.
  • Add curry powder, cayenne pepper powder, and salt. Mix together with the garlic.
  • Add ground beef and mix it with the spices.
  • Dump the juice from the meat and let the beef continue to brown.
  • Taste and add spices if necessary.
  • Add the chopped scallions, mix them up with the beef, and set the pan aside.

Folding the martabak:

  • Pick up 3 fillo dough sheets for each piece of martabak, brush with the rest of vegetable oil, scoop the beef mixture, and add to the middle of the sheets. Repeat.
  • Place the folded martabak on a greased oven tray, brush the top with eggwash, and place into the oven for 20 minutes until they are golden brown.
  • Let them rest for a couple of minutes, cut in the middle, and serve. (I made mine a bit bigger and then I cut them before serving).
  • Serve with Thai peppers (optional).

    Hot out of the oven

More to come later!

Oxtail Soup with Vegetables

Beef Recipes

April’s last days were quite cold. The wind and low temperature were pretty brutal compared to the 80-degree weather we had in March!  This spice-filled Indonesian oxtail soup loaded with vegetables was definitely a great pick-me-up meal on such chilly days.

My secret to having a great oxtail soup is to slow-cook it the night before serving. On the next day, the vegetables and broth would become so much more flavorful and the tender meat would just fall off the bones so easily. The comforting effect makes the soup worth the time and effort.

Here’s my version:

  • 6  cuts of oxtail (get different sizes: large, medium, and small)
  • 6 carrots (peeled and slice into thin cuts)
  • ½ of cauliflower (cut into small florets)
  • A handful of green beans (trim the end parts and then cut into shorter lengths)
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 sweet onion (chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 Thai peppers (chopped)


  • Place the oxtails in a large cooking pot.
  • Add water enough to cover the oxtails.
  • Bring to boil over medium heat and then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover the pot with a lid.
  • Add the garlic, onion, nutmeg, salt, black pepper, and Thai peppers. Let simmer for 2 ½ hours.
  • Check frequently to add water. Make sure that the oxtails are always submerged.
  • After 2 ½ hours, add the chopped vegetables and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Taste and add salt or pepper if necessary.
  • Cover the pot and let it rest and cool off.
  • Keep in the fridge until it is time to serve.
  • Heat up by bringing the soup to a boil. Serve over rice.

Serves 4-6

What’s your comfort one-pot meal?

Spicy Beef with Mint

Beef Recipes

I purchased two cookbooks this month to broaden my cooking horizon. My need for food inspirations is currently being met by Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner and Giada at Home: Family Recipe from Italy and California. I simply love Giada‘s passion for food that transpires through her cooking style and quality. Though rooted in her Italian heritage, Giada’s recipes don’t shy away from being eclectic.

For Monday night dinner, I made Spicy Beef with Mint (also on Weeknights with Giada, pg. 159). This one-pot and Thai-influenced meal was so flavorful and easy to make. The sweet soy sauce, bell peppers, and shallots infused the tender thin slices of beef sirloin with sweetness. Then, the fish sauce, soy sauce, mint and basil leaves made this dish to be pleasantly tangy and aromatic. For an extra kick, Thai peppers and sriracha sauce did a good job in integrating successfully with the rest of the flavors. What an impressive flavor combination and balance!

I followed the ingredient list and steps from the original recipe. A few notes:

  • The recipe on the cookbook calls for sirloin steak (instead of flank as stated on this online recipe). I sliced the sirloin steak into ¼ inch cuts.
  • I used two bell peppers instead of one. One in red and one in yellow to create a nice color combination.
  • I also had some leftover asparagus in the fridge. So I sliced them up (threw out the very bottom white section) and added them into the pot with the basil and mint toward the end of cook time.
  • I happened to have these white basil leaves in the fridge. So that’s what I used instead of the Thai basil.
  • Best served with rice

Serve 4-6 people

Click here to see original recipe: Spicy Beef with Mint 

Beef Chorizo Sloppy Joe – Mini Burger Series

Beef Recipes, Burger

I had been wanting to try beef chorizo. Before this entry, I had only tasted a vegetarian version of chorizo, made from tempeh, and it was delicious. The wonderful smokey and peppery seasonings flavor had stayed in my food memory waiting to be experienced once again.  But how to prepare and enjoy beef chorizo was another question.

One Sunday morning I turned on the TV, flipped to Food Network, and saw an episode of the Sandwich King where the host, by chance, was making: Sloppy Jose with Chorizo, Charred Poblanos, and Avocado Crema. “Well, that’s it,” I thought, “My question received an answer.” 🙂 What a great coincidence. I accepted the show as a sign for me to continue the mini burger fiesta Jeff and I were having. This time it was with beef chorizo!

Here’s my adapted version of the Sandwich King’s recipe:

  • 1 Mexican beef chorizo (the packet I got was 10 oz or a bit more than a half a pound)
  • 1 cup store-bought refrigerated fresh salsa
  • Light shredded mozzarella
  • 2 red bell peppers (julienned)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin powder
  • 4-6 dinner rolls (halved)


  • Fire up the grill.
  • Prepare an aluminum foil, fold along the edges to create barrier (so that the meat and salsa won’t run away from the foil while cooking), and poke a few holes in the middle of the foil using a fork (to create a way out for the fat and moisture). Place on the grill.
  • Unwrap the chorizo and place on an aluminum foil.
  • Let the meat cook for 15-20 minutes (I choose to cook it on a grill outside because it could get very smokey and very fragrant).
  • After it cooks for 15 minutes, add the salsa to the meat, and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Place on a plate.
  • Saute the julienned red bell peppers with a little bit of canola oil, salt, pepper, and cumin powder (until the peppers become soft).
  • Toast the buns
  • Sprinkle the cheese on the bottom bun, add a scoop of the chorizo salsa mix, put a couple of sliced peppers on top of the mix, and place the top bun.

Since these sloppy joes are already so flavorful and rich, I opt out of making the avocado crema.

(Makes 6 delicious mini sloppy joes)

Thin Sliced Steak – Yakiniku Style (Japanese Barbecue)

Beef Recipes

Eating out with my family make up a huge chunk of my childhood memory. Growing up, Japanese cuisine was big in Indonesia and was one of my family’s favorites. And as far as I could remember the cuisine had a lot more varieties than just the very popular sushi and bento boxes that we have been so accustomed to here these days. My favorite was Yakiniku.

In college, a friend of mine taught me how to make yakiniku at home. (Thanks again for it, Vick!) Each time I make it I am reminded of why I like the dish so much. Aside from the good memories it brings, this easy and savory meat dish is just so full of flavors! The sesame oil gives this warm and nutty aroma while the mixture of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper infuses the meat with such an exciting taste.

I like to cook my thin sliced steak on the grill outside. The meat tends to get very smoky when it is done inside, on a gridiron or on a portable gas stove at the table, just like how it is at yakiniku restaurants.

Here’s my super easy version of yakiniku.

Ingredients for the steak:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of thin sliced beef
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • ¼ cup of low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne/chili powder

Ingredients for the sides (any of these will work fine):

  • Asparagus
  • Cucumber (peeled and sliced)
  • Lettuce


  • Mix all of the ingredients for the steak in a resealable bag (or a bowl and then cover with a plastic wrap) and let it sit in the fridge overnight
  • Grill the meat over high heat. It won’t take long at all to cook since the beef are sliced very thin. So please don’t wander off too far from the grill
  • Remove the hardy bottom part of the asparagus
  • Drizzle asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Grill the asparagus for 4 minutes on each side
  • Serve the cucumber and lettuce on a separate plate as a side
  • Best served with rice

Serve 2 generously

Braised and Broiled Beef Tongue

Beef Recipes

Braised and then Broiled Beef Tongue set on top of Chayote Squash

(Harini’s version of Empal Lidah – Origin: East Java)

For serious meat lovers, beef tongue has been known for its tenderness and succulence. Jeff “introduced” me to this meat a few years back. He ordered a delicious beef tongue dish (I don’t recall the name now) once when we dined at Chicago’s Colombian restaurant, Las Tablas (on Lincoln Ave.), and then again at El Llano (also on Lincoln). He said that the plate reminded him of a couple of Indonesian dishes he enjoyed so much: braised and pan-seared beef tongue and a beef tongue stew. I had never tried these dishes before and was intrigued. Jeff’s story  inspired me to make the braised and pan-seared one. The only difference I did was that after braising, I broiled the meat instead of pan searing it. Jeff and I would have this dish every now and then. When we have it, I usually pair it with a chayote squash in spicy broth and serve them together over white jasmine rice.

Chayote squash in spicy broth with shrimp (optional)

The way I like to cook beef tongue is to make the meat to be tender in the inside and crispy on the outside. Braising the meat for at least two hours and then broiling it a little bit inside of an oven work for my preference.

Here’s how I cook the meat:

First we will need:

  • 2 pounds of sliced (skinless) beef tongue. A little note about beef tongue for those who have never cooked it before: some grocery stores meat department may only carry the whole meat (not sliced).  If so, you’d have to remove the skin and fat by cooking the whole meat in a large pot for about 30 minutes, remove and let it cool, chop it into big chunks, and then cut off the skin and fat. The skin comes off easier when the meat is hot.
  • 2 cups of white vinegar

Chop and mix in a food processor:

  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 6 shallots
  • 6 candlenuts
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

For aroma:

  • 1 Lemongrass (Cut and throw away the very top and bottom part and then halve it)
  • 2 lime leaves
  • 1 inch of galangal root


  • Place the whole meat in a large pot and cover it with water
  • Bring to boil and let cook for 30 minutes and then dump the water
  • Put the vinegar in a larger bowl that can be used to soak the meat
  • Cut the whole meat into larger chunks
  • Cut off the skin, trim away the fat, and throw them away
  • Slice the meat into 1/2 inch thick
  • Wash with water and then soak them in the vinegar bowl for 10 minutes and then drain
  • Return the meat in the larger pot and cover it again with water over medium heat
  • Add the chopped and mixed spices from the food processor along with lemongrass, lime leaves, and galangal root
  • Stir and mix well
  • Cover with a lid and let it cook for about 1 ½ to 2 hours or until liquid is reduced by ¾
  • Place the braised meat on an aluminum-foil-layered tray, broil in the oven with the door slightly ajar for about 5 minutes or until the outer part of the meat turns golden brown
  • Best served with white jasmine rice

Serve 4

Spicy Beef Stew

Beef Recipes

(My version of Rendang. Origin: West Sumatra)

Rendang, a favorite

It seems like many cultures have their own versions of beef stew.” my guy said last night as we tried a delicious Middle-Eastern style Okra and Beef Stew. I nodded in agreement as I thought of other beef stews, like the French beouf bourguignon or the Indonesian rendang, a spicy beef stew from the West Sumatra region (and surely, there are plenty more delicious stews from all around). Their taste might be different from each other but they all make wonderful, substantial, and nourishing meals. 

The beef-stew talk last night got me thinking about my spicy beef stew. I looked at my blog and realized that I have yet to write about it. This dish is one of my favorite dish. Traditionally prepared for special occasions, this stew takes a long time to cook. But, just like any other slow-cooked meal, the meat gets to be rich tasting and tender that it just melts in your mouth. This particular dish is less watery than what a stew would typically look like but wait until you taste the sauce. Oh the sauce! After cooking, the liquid that the meat stew in becomes this thick, spice filled, and mouthwatering sauce that I could just eat with rice or bread alone.

A few years back, my mom taught me how to make the dish from scratch. Well, actually, she only told me the five main ingredients: ginger root, galangal root, lemongrass, red hot peppers, and turmeric. When I asked about how much of each I should use, she said that I should try and figure it out myself! She said that was how her mother taught her. I guess we’re big on learning-by-doing in this family. It worked out though. After years of tasting, tweaking, and perfecting, I think I have developed a version that my guy and I like very much. 

Here’s my version of the stew.


  • 2 pounds of stew beef
  • 7-10 long red peppers, like Cayenne peppers (substitute with two red bell peppers if Cayenne is not available)
  • 5-7 Thai peppers (Note: Spicy. Please adjust accordingly)
  • 2 inches of ginger root (peeled)
  • 1 inch of galangal root (peeled)
  • 1 lemongrass (remove the the very top and bottom part)
  • 5-6 shallots
  • 2 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 can of light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Salt


Chop and mix the following in a food processor:

  • Long red peppers (or bell peppers), Thai peppers, ginger, galangal, shallots, and garlic
  • In a large pot, heat up a tablespoon of Canola oil over medium heat
  • Saute the chopped and mixed spices from the food processor for a minute or two
  • Add beef and stir to make sure it is well coated with the spices
  • Fill up the pot with water enough to cover the beef
  • Add lemongrass, turmeric, and salt
  • Stir well and then bring to boil
  • Add the light coconut milk and stir well
  • Reduce the heat just a little bit, cover the pot with a lid, and let it cook for another hour and a half to two hours until the liquid is reduced by 2/3 (until 1/3 of liquid left)
  • The meat should be fork tender when it’s done
  • Best served with white jasmine rice

Note: Since I enjoy the sauce from this dish SO much, I make my version to have more sauce than how the original would have.

Serve 2 generously