Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The menu

Right, so I've run my menu thoughts by a mate and he's impressed. And the man knows his food so that's a good sign. Mind you, I did laugh at HIS initial menu suggestion which basically comes down to a meal I'd cook for myself. On week days. When I'm tired like. But anyway.

Vegetarians look away now. Sorry darlings, this one is not going to make your heart sing. But yes Fab, next time you're over at mine, I'll make you the gado gado - with the mother of all peanut sauces.

Right, here goes.

Rice obviously. I'm thinking plain white rice, nasi goreng (fried rice - basically a traditional 'left-over dish') and maybe - if I've got time to spare - coconut rice prepared with pandan leaves. Smells fantastic. Tastes almost like dessert.

Rendang - a beef stew prepared with coconut milk, usually fairly mild but properly made it's gorgeous.

Ayam Setan - Satan's Chicken. Bets are off why it's called that way.

Gado gado - a cold veggie dish served with peanut sauce. For me it has to come with lontong (cold compressed rice sliced in cubes or rounds, scented with pandan - SO lovely). This dish also has a 'cooling effect' if you've just eaten something a bit too hot for your palate. The peanut sauce that goes with it is almost a meal on its own - mummy's special recipe. If I told you what's in it I'd have to kill you (Kung Fu Panda quote: if you think THIS is great you should try my dad's secret ingredient soup. He actually knows the secret ingredient).

Maybe satay (kambing preferably although we don't use goat's cheese but lamb), if the weather will allow me to grill them on the terrace. Otherwise no satay. The smell lingers in your house like you wouldn't believe. Maybe Balinese satay lilit with sea food on lemon grass stalks. But I'm of Javanese stock. Hmm. I may just leave the satay out altogether (mum would have a fit - she makes the kind of satay that could wake the dead).

Acar ketimun - just home-made pickled cucumber, nice and refreshing.

Other acar - other pickled and spiced veggies

Sambal mussels. I've forgotten the Indonesian word for mussels for some reason. Doesn't matter. This dish is yum. Freshly cooked mussels in a spicy sauce. Bliss. Comfort food extraordinaire in my book.

Bergedel/frikadel - small patties of minced meat and potato with herbs and spices. Everyone likes these. Even the most unadventurous of people love stacking these up on their plate. I seriously suspect some people even claim to be fussy eaters just so they can have more of them.

Tahu tempeh - not sure which way I'm going to cook them yet - not everyone likes tahu (tofu - or as dad calls it: 'fried sponge' - yes Si, you're not alone in this one), but must people love my tempeh (tofu with whole soy beans still in them, very nutty flavour).

Rujak - fruit salad with spicy sauce (served on the side). Obviously I won't be using ready-made rujak sauce - those are disgusting mostly. You would think this is a vegetarian dish but it isn't. Not if you have it with the sauce. And even non-vegetarians wouldn't want to hear exactly what goes in the sauce. Another 'special ingredient'. But lovely. Trust me (something tells me I'm not doing too great in selling this to you).

Sambal goreng telor or another egg dish.

Babi kecap seems a bit plain (pork in soy sauce), maybe babi asam pedis instead (pork in spicy tamarind sauce). This is a very gratifying dish - dead easy yet never fails to impress. We like that.

Pepesan - fish dish (I love using mackerel for this), with a very typical flavour because of the hot and sour marinade. Can't really describe the taste. Hope I can get the right ingredients. The ready-made variety is either divine or absolutely disgusting to the point of gagging. There seems to be no middle ground with this one.

Cumi cumi isi - to die for - stuffed squid. Soooo yum. Alright, this one is mainly for me myself and I. It might not make it to the table - but not because of me failing to make it properly if you catch my drift.

Something prawn. There are a thousand ways of doing prawns, I think I'll make them with peteh beans (also known as 'smelly beans'). I might leave out that last comment when I tell my guests about the food.

Some kind of kue (cake/pudding) or several of them rather. I'm inclined to just buy these at my local toko but sometimes they just taste of cardboard or glue with a hint of coconut. Serious sampling required. Oh dear.
Pisang goreng - banana fritters. For some reason, every Dutch person will expect banana fritters with an Indonesian meal. Mine are actually quite good. Not the oil-soaked dumplings you get at most restaurants. Even people who do not like raw banana would find them a treat (honestly Si, how can you NOT like fresh banana but go wild over banana fritters?).

What do you reckon?

Now you may think that I've bitten off more than I can chew with this one, but in all truth, most of these I can prepare well in advance and there are some pretty simple things in here too. And at the first sign of pre-dinner stress I'd probably drop the slightly more complicated or time-consuming ones like the pepesan, the cumi cumi and the mussels.

It's been fun trying to pull a nice menu together. My mate Si sent me a link to an Indonesian food blog by friends of his for inspiration, 'Cooking with Mrs K', which was a feast of recognition. It got me mumbling to myself though (What?? You put scotch bonnets in your sambal ulek - SCOTCH BONNETS?? Have you completely lost it?? Do you WANT to burn away all your taste buds??).
I may just end up trying it anyway.


  1. I eat a lot of fried sponge!! I am a vegetarian (vegan, most of the time) so I should have looked away, but I didn't. Never heard of the Gado Gado in my whole life, nor tasted peanut sauce. Interesting.

    As for Martino, thank for your sweet comment. I know, he made a lot of people cry. When he passed I had emails of people having moments of silence for him, or candles and prayers. He was an incredible little cat, so intelligent. I'm quite sure he knew his life wasn't going to last long so he lived it to the fullest, really. I know it sounds stupid to say something like this for a cat, but that was my impression, and my mom's too. And thanks or reassuring me.

  2. Ahhh, if you're a vegetarian / vegan then gado gado is right up your street! It's really nice - the veggies are not spiced because all the spices are in the peanut sauce. If you lived a bit closer I'd be making it for you as we speak!

    What you say about Martino is not stupid. I was actually thinking that after reading about him. And it seemed almost as if you knew as well, sub-consciously that he was not going to be around very long because all those blog posts about him turned out to be such a beautiful memorial. What a little bundle of delight he must have been. And his delight is oozing out of every photo you took - he couldn't have had a more perfect existence!

  3. I love peanut sauce and anything satay. The whole menu sounds overwhelmingly delicious.

    But, the one thing I don't like (please don't hold it against me) is squid! Can't stand the stuff.... anyway you can cook it, I don't like it!! My partner loves to fish and catch squid, and is always trying to tempt me into eating it and liking it.... nup, NOT happening. For me it's in the same category as eating brains. (One of my dad's fave dishes when I was little was fried sheep brains - oh yes indeedy!). I used to eat them too until I figured out what they were - lol.

    Everyone else I know loves squid, just loves it. I wasn't born with the squid loving 'chip'.

    Your meal will be absolutely wonderful!!

    Linda. xox

  4. I get that a lot! I tell people I really love squid and they go 'but whyyyyy'! ;-D

    So I think this one might be the first to get bumped off the list. Especially as I only want to use fresh squid which I would then have to de-gut myself which all adds to the amount of time needed to make the dinner...

    I'm with you on the whole brains thing though! My dad loves them too - I've never been able to try it - my mind just won't let me! ;-)

  5. De-gutting squid.... eeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwww!

  6. Yeah, I'll admit that it is a pretty gross undertaking. But the squid I use are the small variety, so it's not too bad. I do hate de-gutting an octopus because it's so much bigger. So while I absolutely love octopus, it's not often on the menu.


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