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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Indonesian, Pan Asian, Satay, Dumplings, Asian Slaw, Chicken Curry, David Byrne Radio

My friend Jill traveled throughout Indonesia. She decided she wanted to have a party that had an Asian theme with Indonesian style food. She told me about dishes she tried in Java and the countryside.

For me this was a challenge but no worries, I found authentic Indonesian recipes online and made some Pan Asian items as well. The menu was wide ranging to satisfy carnivore to vegan. This was a party for about 25 people.

This is a Cooking Lounge
Party Project. You will need to plan and prep. But elements of this can be done days, weeks in advance.

You will need a market with a very good international section. Or you can make it an urban adventure and go to a real Asian market in an ethnic neighborhood. Google, I think you will be surprised with the results no matter where you live in the US.

Or you know, do it online in advance and have it delivered.


I found IndoMerchant and for Japanese oriented items Asian Food Grocer. I went shopping in NYC’s Chinatown so I did not use these online sources. Here are a few snapshots I took in Chinatown.

photos:wbj

Like I have said before, Cooking Lounge is a guide not a how-to but for this post I will give a lot more detail because even I, the avid cook, was in new terrain. And have to admit, I added my own improvisations here and there.

FOOD:
Appetizers

Dumplings - meat and vegetarian
Picked up frozen dumpling/wonton skins at the Asian market.
Thaw. Fill with a tablespoon or so of your filling or choice. I had a bamboo steamer but they can be pan fried as well.

Meat filling
whole raw shrimp, cooked spicy ground park, cilantro and scallion. 1 whole shrimp per dumpling.

Vegetarian filling
Reconstituted dry shitake mushrooms (very meaty), spicy sautéed tofu, raw shredded green cabbage, cilantro and scallions.

Dumpling dipping sauce
Rice vinegar, light soy, sugar and finely chopped thai red chilies.

Shirmp Crackers
placed a few bowls around as a easy munchie.

Cucumber and Carrot Pickle (Atjar)
It’s a table condiment, a little side dish.

1 large cucumber, sliced thick
1 large carrot, sliced thin
1 shallot
3-5 thai green and red chilies whole
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tbs salt
1 tbs white vinegar
1 tbs water
Mix sugar, salt, vinegar and water and pour or vegetables. Be sure to toss well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Scale this recipe to fit your needs.

Entrees

Chicken Curry (Ajam Kerie)
2.5 lb chicken (I went with boneless breasts so I could slice them up after they cooked to serve the most people.)
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tbs of curry powder
1 tbs of coriander
1 tsp of caraway seeds (I left this out)
2 carrots thinly cut in strips (I left this out)
2 cups of coconut milk
1 tsp salt
1 tbs coarse ground Pepper

Season chicken with 1 clove of garlic, salt peper. Cook in preheated 350 degree oven uncovered for 30 minutes. Brown onions, remaining garlic add coconut milk, carrots (if you want), curry, coriander and caraway seeds (if you want). Bring to a slow boil. Pour over chicken. Return to oven for 15 minutes. Scale this recipe to fit your needs.

Beef Satay Skewers
Decided to have as a main course item because a few skewers are quite filling.

Thinly sliced beef marinated in curry, orange juice, garlic and tamarind. Marinate 8 hours to overnight.

Soak wooden skewers in cold water 30 minutes before grilling Beef Satay. This keeps the wooden skewers from burning.

Thread beef on skewers. With grill pan or outdoor grill cook for approx 2-3 minutes each side for medium. Stack them up, sprinkle with shredded coconut as a flavorful garnish and serve with Satay Sauce.

Satay Sauce
3 tbs of crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup of dark soy sauce
1 tbs coriander
1 tbs cumin
1 stalk leamongrass (if you can not find fresh, get dried, wrap in cheesecloth and toss in with coconut milk)
1 tbs lemon juice
1tsp vegetable oil or olive oil
1 tsp chili paste or minced thai chilies
1 can of coconut milk

Dice and sauté onions with oil. Add other ingredients. Mix. Add coconut milk and lemongrass. Bring to simmer and let slightly thicken. Remove lemongrass. Ready to be dipped or poured over skewers. Also satay sauce is great tossed with some sautéed veges like bok choy or green beans.

Sides
Jasmine Rice (A big bowl of rice stretches far.   Works with almost every dish. Use Brown rice if you want.)

Asian Cole Slaw (a CL original recipe)
1 small red cabbage shredded
1 small green cabbage shredded
2 scallions
1 large carrot grated
1 tps celery seeds
2 tbs chopped cilantro or parsley (your choice; I used cilantro)
1 tbl sesame oil (tps if you want less smoky flavor)
1 tbl of soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbs toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tps caraway seeds
salt to taste
coarse black pepper to taste

Toss together cabbage, carrots, cilantro and scallions. Mix liquids, add all spices except salt and pepper to create a dressing. Stir well. Pour dressing over slaw and toss well so that all is coated. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so flavors meld.

Spicy Stir Fried Green Beans (Sambel Goreng Buncis)
1 lb Green Beans. Long beans are great if you can find them. Usually no problem at a well stocked Asian market.
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 chilies
Vegetable oil or regular olive oil (no need to use extra virgin because it will burn)
1 tbs of tamarind (if you have a dried block, dissolve in water in advance)
2 cups cubed tomatoes
2 thick slices of galanga (can find dried, reconstitute)
Fresh bay leaves (if possible)
1/4 tps shrimp paste

Add oil to heated pan/wok. Add garlic and chilies. Sauté for a minute or 2. Add green beans. Add tomatoes. Stir. Add remaining ingredients. Stir. Cook for approx 5 minute. You want the green bean to be al dente…done but crunchy.

Spicy Stir Fried Mushrooms (Oseng – Oseng Jamur)
Same as above but with mushrooms.

Dessert
After all that cooking, dessert is very, very simple.
Fresh Fruits (pineapple, orange, banana – be creative tropical, exotic)
Coconut sorbet if you can find it or Lemon sorbet.

Just a few thoughts...
Like I said at the start this is a Party Project. Enlist a friend or two to help.

The first time you cook up an exotic menu, the specialty ingredients dent the wallet. But many of the specialty items pantry and refrigerate well; so, with all these kicking additions in stock, it's easy to add exotic flavor for a meal alone or to impress guests with an on-the-fly Indonesian or Pan Asian dish.

The Satay sauce does well in the freezer so make extra. A simple steak or chicken dinner with rice and vegetable can become like a night out at a funky restaurant.

Appetites are satiated quicker with spicy food. Must of these dishes will stretch pretty far with a huge bowl of rice in the center of the table.  It is an economical and different approach for treating a large number of guests to a very memorable food experience.

MUSIC:
There is a lot of prep for this Party Project.  Chilled-out  music that you do not have to bother fussing with is a good idea.  
David Byrne Radio is an ever-changing oasis of unique music that runs the gamut. So it's pretty cool background music while you are chopping slicing, and dicing.

Works with iTunes or a player downloads to your computer. Go ahead listen as you read this posting.

STYLE:
If you take an exotic trip, you can bring some of that adventure to home entertaining. Give your guest a taste. Photos, fabric, decorative pieces, etc can create an all-encompassing vibe at minimal cost.

Galya Kovalyova is a photographer who was along for the trip to Indonesia. Here are a few of Galya's Indonesia photographs.


Thanks for having a look. Back soon with more Cooking Lounge.

Willis




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