It has been, what seems to me, like a million years since I last posted on my beloved blog. Let’s just say that life has been a bit eventful.We had a baby! (who is now almost a toddler), and we bought a house, then we sold the house, and then we moved across the ocean :D. A change can do you good, they say. So we, the three of us, huddle, stick together, and embrace this adventure with open arms.
Our future house is still in the works. So I am sharing a kitchen at my mom’s house. After months of eating out, I started missing cooking. Now, I have been returning to it little by little. It feels good to cook, to create, to produce again. I hope to resume and sustain this good habit here in our new world.
Last night, I cooked up a storm. But of course, I forgot to take pictures of the main dishes. I did remember to take pictures of the desserts. Oh well, let this post and the next be about sweet stuff.
Mung Beans is pretty popular in the South East Asian countries. I love having it cooked in coconut milk mixed with palm sugar. You can have it hot or cold. Either way is delightful. So here is my simple recipe for 4 people:
- 2 cups of mung beans
- 1 cup of palm sugar
- 1 cup of coconut milk (if using the light coconut milk, you can use the whole can)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 or 2 inches of ginger
- 6 cups of water
- In a medium size pot, bring water to a rolling boil
- Add mung beans and ginger. Let it cook for 5 minutes
- Turn off the stove and cover the pot.
- Let the mung beans sit for an hour in that covered pot
- After an hour, see if it needs a bit of water. If so, add enough to immerse the beans
- Turn on the stove again and add sugar. Stir well
- While stirring, add the coconut milk. Keep stirring until it starts to come to simmer again
- Turn off the stove, let it cool down, and enjoy
- Refrigerate the rest and try it cold for the next day
Smokey, spicy, aromatic, and easy to make. Inspired by a native dish of an area in East Java, I recently added smoked salmon in spicy coconut milk sauce into my list of favorite menu. The idea is simple: add sauce (and flavors) to an otherwise dry fish. As for the sauce, all it takes: mix coconut milk with garlic, shallots, and chili peppers and bring it to a boil. Then add galangal root for some lemony aroma. That’s it. (The original recipe involves serving a type of smoked fish that is not available in the States. So I substitute it with smoked salmon.)
Here’s my easy recipe:
- 2 fillets of smoked salmon
- 3 garlic
- 3 shallots
- 5 Thai peppers (or other type of chili peppers that you prefer)
- 7 fl oz of light coconut milk (1/2 can of the regular 14 fl oz—Use the rest of the milk for Braised Collard Greens, next blog post)
- 1 inch cut of galangal root, smashed (No galangal root? Substitute with zest from one lemon or lime)
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable/canola oil
- Chop garlic, shallots, and Thai peppers in a food processor
- Heat up a medium size pan over medium heat and add oil
- Sweat garlic, shallots, and peppers for about one to two minutes
- Add coconut milk, salt, and galangal root to the pan. Stir until it starts to bubble.
- Add the fish fillets and coat with the sauce. Since the fish is already smoked/cooked, I just need to mix it with the sauce. I let it sit in the bubbling sauce for two or three minutes.
- Discard galangal root
- Serve with hot jasmine rice and braised collard greens
Thanks for reading and have a great week!
(My version of gulai sayur. Origin: Indonesia)
Here is my version of gulai, which refers to the flavorful yellow broth made of turmeric, chili peppers, garlic, shallot, and coconut milk. It makes such a wonderful vegetable stew. In fact, I have written a couple of versions of this recipe before, titled Chayote Squash in Spicy Broth and Spicy Kale. Today, I’d like to adjust it a bit to show how easy and versatile it could be.
When summer comes to an end, it usually yield tons of produce. Like many of you, I love going to farmers market to get those goodies. Maybe like some of you, I tend to get too many things. Just like the other day, I got a variety of peppers and tons of shallots and garlic—the three key ingredients in Indonesian cooking and in this vegetable stew recipe. I also had a couple of Chayote squash and two handful of shiitake mushroom in the fridge. So, here’s what I did with them:
Prepared the vegetables:
- Peeled, cored, and sliced the Chayote squash into long and thin cuts. Then I soaked the cuts in a bowl of water mixed with salt for about 30 minutes to get rid of the sap. Could be substituted with summer squash/zucchini/ bell pepper (see more vegetable options on the bottom of the page)
- Remove the shiitake stems and roughly chopped the mushroom
Prepared the gulai broth:
List of ingredients:
- 4 shallots
- 4 garlic
- 3 hot peppers (red/orange color)
- 3 sweet peppers (red/orange color)
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 2-3 cups of water
- 1/2 can of light coconut milk
- 1/2 inch of sliced galangal root (or 1 lemongrass) to add lemony aroma to the stew. Could be substituted with lemon zest (from one lemon).
- Chopped shallots, garlic, hot peppers, and sweet peppers in a food processor (or blender)
- Added turmeric powder and a little bit of salt to the mixture
- Sweat it in a heated pot with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, to release the moisture
- Added water and galangal root, let it simmer
- Added coconut milk, stirred
- Once the broth simmered for the second time, I added the squash and mushroom
- Let them stew for about five minutes or until the broth simmered for the third time
- Removed galangal root before serving
At dinner time, my guy had a good point. He said that the stew’s contents could vary. We could have different types of vegetables with (or without) mushroom or even with tofu/tempeh/some seafood in it. Aha! That comment gave me an idea. I listed several produce that would taste great in this vegetable stew recipe:
Choose one vegetable or do a pairing of a vegetable with either mushroom/one of the seafood selections/tofu/tempeh from the following list: (I’d combine up to two things to avoid stew overcrowd)
- Summer squash
- Bell peppers
- String beans
For these greens, I prefer to have it just by itself in the stew, not in a combination.
- Swiss Chard
- Collard Green
- (I like using) Shiitake mushroom
- Smoked salmon (I’d cut it into small square and add into the stew closer to the end of cooking, since it is already cooked)
- Shrimp (cook together with the vegetable of choice in the simmering broth until shrimp is fully cooked, about 5 minutes)
Soy-based protein goodies:
- Tofu (extra firm and cut into small square. Cook together with the vegetable of choice in the simmering broth for about 5 minutes)
- Tempeh (cut into small square and cook together with the vegetable of choice in the simmering broth for about 5-10 minutes)
What do you think? Anything else we could try? I’ll add to the list if I could think of more.
Thanks for stopping by!
This entry was originally titled Kale Braised in Coconut Milk and was published back on January 26, 2012. Since then I have tweaked the recipe and arrived at a point where I could say, “This is even better!” So here it is, dear readers. Let’s turn the hardy green leaves into a tender and flavorful dish.
Almost a decade ago, a good friend introduced me to kale. Originally, we wanted to cook braised cassava leaves in spices and coconut milk (gulai daun singkong), a native dish to the West Sumatrans, but could not find the vegetable in Michigan. My friend believed Kale’s texture and taste would work for the dish we wanted to make. And OH WOW, did it work great! Since then on this super vegetable has been one of my regular side dish menus.
Both Jeff and I love this dish. It is spicy but yet there’s also a little sweetness that comes from the mixture of red bell pepper, shallots, and coconut milk.
Here’s a list of things we will need:
- 2 bundle of kale (remove the stem, wash, and chop the leaves)
- 4 shallots (finely chopped)
- 4 garlic (chopped)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 10 hot finger peppers (finely chopped)
- Light coconut milk (one can)
- One cup of water
Chicken stock (use half a cup)
- One inch cut of galangal root (for aroma)
- A pinch of turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon of canola oil
- Heat up the canola oil in a medium pot
- In a food processor, chop and mix garlic, shallots, and all peppers.
Add shallots and garlic into the pot and let them turn to light brown
- Sweat the garlic, shallots, and peppers mix in the medium pot for 2 minutes
- Add salt and turmeric powder
- Add water and bring to boil
Mix the leaves with shallots and garlic
- Add coconut milk, stir, and bring to boil one more time
chicken stock and peppers. Cover the pot with its lid and let the dish boil
- Add kale, bring to boil, and then remove pot from the heat immediately (to avoid overcooking the vegetable)
Add coconut milk, stir and mix well, and let it cook for another 20 minutes until the vegetable becomes tender
Uncover the pot to reduce the liquid for no more than 2 minutes
Add salt to taste
Great with rice and a grilled chicken or a beef dish.
Hope you like it!
(Harini’s Version of Soto Bangilan, Origin: East Java)
It’s hard to give a short answer to the question “What’s Indonesian food like?” It depends on: who is being asked and where in Indonesia this person comes from. Cuisines vary from one island to the next. People may also find unalike tastes and types of food in different parts of an island. Now imagine if you have thousands of islands. The immense diversity of culture, ethnicity, and dialect in the archipelago unquestionably gets reflected in the cuisines too.
I have been able to cook some of the home-cooked dishes I grew up with, mostly cuisines from West Sumatra and East Java. Though I have perfected some recipes I still have plenty to try and learn to do. Recently I taught myself to make one more dish native to one part of East Java: Chicken Soup with Turmeric and Coconut Milk (Soto Bangilan). Soto is basically chicken soup that is cooked with turmeric and is infused with spices. (The significance of Soto is its yellow color that comes from turmeric.) Bangilan is the name of a small town in East Java where this particular Soto can be found and enjoyed. There are many varieties of Soto throughout the island and in the country. Chicken Soto is very popular in Java along with Soto Madura which is of the Madura island origin.
Anyway, one day my mom and I had a food talk about Soto Bangilan. She kept talking about how delicious it was. I never had the dish before. Curiosity led me to ask for Soto Bangilan‘s recipe from one of my aunts. Thanks to her I was able to add one more dish to my recipe collection!
Here is my version of the recipe:
- 5-6 Smaller size of boneless chicken thighs (diced)
- 2-3 Boiled eggs (halved)
- 1 Lime
- Sweet soya sauce (usually available at Asian grocery stores)
- A handful of thin rice noodle (dip them in boiling water until they get soft, drain, and set aside)
- 1 Box of chicken stock (32 oz)
- 2-3 Handful of bean sprouts (dip them in boiling water for a minute or two, drain, and set aside)
- A handful of fried shallots (usually available at Asian grocery stores)
- White jasmine rice (The recipe calls for lontong, a compressed rice that can be cut into pieces like cakes. I prefer to have it with regular white rice.)
- 5-6 Scallions (chopped)
Spices to be mixed in a food processor:
- 3 Shallots
- 1 Teaspoon of minced garlic
- 1 Teaspoon of corriander
- ½ Teaspoon of turmeric powder
- 1 Inch of Galangal root
- 5-6 Candlenuts
- ½ Teaspoon of shrimp paste
Add to the pot:
- 3 Kaffir lime leaves
- 1 Lemongrass
- 1 Can of light coconut milk (the original recipe requests for more coconut milk but I prefer to have it light)
- In a bigger pot, saute the spices, lime leaves, and lemongrass with a little canola oil
- Add the chicken and mix well with the spices
- Add the chicken stock and a cup of water (or two)
- Let it boil until the chicken is well cooked, add the coconut milk, and stir
- Let it cook for another 10 minutes
- Add fried shallots to the broth
Serve in a deep plate or a bowl:
- A little bit of white jasmine rice, bean sprouts, scallions, thin rice noodles, halved boiled egg, and pour the Soto (with the diced chicken) on top of them
- Top with a little squeeze of lime and a little sweet soya sauce
- Serve with a little sambal (chilies) on the side (Only for those who love spicy, please)
- Mix everything and enjoy!
Here is how to make the sambal for Soto:
- Boil 10-15 Thai peppers and 2-3 candle nuts for 5-10 minutes
- Drain and chop them up in a food processor
- Add a little salt and serve
- Note: only take a little at a time and mix with the dish
Enjoy a bowl of multifarious goodness. The warmth of the soup and its big flavor fill up a hungry stomach perfectly. Leftover is to be expected. Great for next day’s lunch!