I should have made my commitment to trying a hundred new recipes this year rather than read a a hundred new books. Reading seems to have fallen by the wayside and cooking experimentations have increased exponentially.
Anyways, I grew up with a parent who was raised in Indonesia so a lot of what I ate growing up was Indonesian. I used to think that cooking Indonesian was a big mystery with my dad standing over some cauldron of spices and my grandmother grinding spices into fine pastes with her mortar and pestle.
It is a bit of a mystery until you familiarize yourself with a few key ingredients like trassi, lemon grass, coriander and turmeric.
I am something of a slapdash cook, prone to substitutions and other flourishes. There are some things I won’t mess with though and that is any of the above ingredients. If the recipe calls for these, use them. The one you have to pay particular attention to is trassi which is very strong and smells like hell but it’s a necessary ingredient.
Now, without further ado, one of my childhood favourites, reprised here for your culinary enjoyment. I served this with Indonesian chili eggs and basmati steamed rice.
4 to 6 servings
oil 3 to 4 tbsps
3 cloves minced garlic
1 chili pepper (I threw the entire pepper in whole)
1 inch peeled, minced galangal or fresh ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, minced (the white part only) (I often just break the lemongrass in half and throw the whole thing in the soup)
1 heaping tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 can coconut milk
1 veggie bouillon cube
4 cups water
1 potato or yam peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
a large handful green beans (remove ends)
1/2 a chinese or regular cabbage chopped
1 block tofu cut into small squares
(you can also add shrimp if you like)
Salt n’ peppa to taste
How to make it:
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok over medium flame. Add the garlic, galangal or ginger, chiles, lemongrass, coriander and turmeric and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add coconut milk & water, potatoes, carrots, green beans and onion and bring to a boil. Add veggie cube. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are almost cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Remove cover and stir in the add cabbage, salt and pepper. Simmer until the cabbage is just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Serve with rice (and chili eggs if you like)
• You can substitute other vegetables if you like. Just add the sturdier, longer-cooking vegetables first and the more delicate vegetables in the second simmering. This prevents over or undercooking.
• Add some cubed tofu or some shrimp with the cabbage and scallions if you like.
Thanks to the folks over here who provided the original recipe.