Cooking Jakarta-style

Posted: August 16, 2007

Here are some Indonesian dishes to try.

CHICKEN SATAY

2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

2 teaspoons sweet soy sauce*

Marinate the chicken in the soy sauce and garlic for about an hour. Soak bamboo skewers in water for 15 minutes. Thread chicken onto skewers.

Cook the chicken over hot charcoal or gas grill until just tender, about 8 minutes. Serve immediately with peanut dipping sauce. Makes 10 skewers.

PEANUT SAUCE

1/2 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon hot chili paste

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 cloves garlic

2 kaffir lime leaves, or 1 teaspoons lime zest

cup roasted peanuts

Salt to taste

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process to make a paste. Add water if you need to thin it a little bit.

Source: Adapted from Hardena Restaurant.

GADO GADO

2 medium red potatoes

1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed

2 cups green cabbage, shredded

1 cup fresh bean sprouts

1 cup carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 shallots, cut into thin slices

1 cup cucumber, sliced

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch squares

2 hard boiled eggs, peeled

Peanut sauce

Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes whole until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool. Slice into rounds.

Blanch the beans, cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots and half the shallot slices for 3 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Arrange all the blanched vegetables and cucumber slices on a platter and set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the remaining shallot slices for 5-7 minutes until brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Cook tofu cubes for about 10 minutes (adding a little more oil if necessary), or until crisp and lightly browned. Remove from the pan and drain. Scatter over salad, along with fried shallots.

Cut hard-boiled eggs into quarters and arrange along the edge of the platter. Serve drizzled with peanut sauce (store-bought, or use the recipe above). Serves 4.

Source: "Cooking the Indonesian Way" (Lerner, $25).

NASI GORENG (FRIED RICE)

4 cups cold cooked rice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg, lightly beaten

5 shallots, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

3 red chilies, sliced

1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste*

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce*

Sliced cucumber and tomato for garnish

Stir the rice with as fork to separate the grains.

Lightly oil a nonstick pan and fry the egg to make a thin omelet. Cool, then shred and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a wok or deep frying pan and fry the shallots, garlic, chilies and shrimp paste until soft. (If using other ingredients such as shrimp and chicken, add now and stir-fry until cooked.)

Increase the heat to high and add the rice, salt and soy sauce, stirring constantly until well mixed and heated through.

Serve garnished with the shredded omelet, cucumber and tomatoes. Accompany, if desired, with a fried egg, fried chicken and satay.

Note: It is important that the rice be cold, otherwise the grains will be too soft to absorb the oil.

Source: "The Food of Indonesia" (Periplus, $11.95).

(*Available in Asian and Indonesian markets.)

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