Nov 16, 2008

Being Your Own Chef in Bali

Wondering how to cook those delicioius spicy food you had in Bali? No, problem. There are many cooking lesson you can attend in Bali. So, next time you come to Bali again, you can plan one day for cooking lesson.

Not just cooking, you will be taken to the local market in the morning before the lesson begins. You can take a stroll around the vegatables and fish to look for the ingredient for cooking. Your chef will accompany you, and explain to you what kind of spices are for sale in Bali market.

While I am not really good at cooking, (I fry eggs, if you insist to know) I enjoy our local food, except the lawar barak. By the way, here is an adventure of my client, Mr. Ching while doing his cooking in Bali. You can follow him, and who knows you might be interested as well.

Our guide from the other day, Putu, arranged for my mom, dad and me to take a cooking class this morning in Kuta. We took a van from the hotel into Kuta and were dropped off at the local marketplace. Our instructor for the morning, Komang, showed us around the market and explained what some of the typical ingredients in Balinese cooking were and how they were used.

After walking through the market we took a van to the Anika Resort, which is where the cooking classes were held. The first thing we did was have a snack of rice and tapioca cakes that were topped with grated coconut and palm sugar syrup.

Once we finished our snack Komang showed us what was in the typical spice mixtures that we would be using for each of our dishes and how to grind them into a paste using a volcanic stone mortar and pestle. After they showed us how to grind the spices they had us try it and i have to admit, it was a little big harder than it looked.

Then we marinated the beef for our satay manis, or Balinese sweet beef satay. The spice paste for the satays included coriander seeds, cumin, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, chillies, sea salt, lime juice and palm sugar. In addition to the spice paste we also added sweet soy sauce, soy sauce, shredded kaffir lime leaves and oil to the marinade and then we skewered the marinated beef.

The next dish we worked on was pepes ikan, or steamed fish in banana leaves. The spice paste for the fish had garlic, shallots, tomatoes, candlenut, lemongrass, shrimp paste, tamarind, chillies, fresh turmeric, palm sugar, black pepper, sea salt, galangal, ginger, coriander seeds and oil. We also mixed in some shredded kaffir lime leaves with the fish, then we wrapped the fish with a salam leaf (Indonesian bay leaf) inside of a banana leaf and steamed it for about seven minutes.

We also made kare ayam, or chicken curry. The spice paste for this incorporated shallots, garlic, chillies, ginger, galangal, candlenut, fresh turmeric, tomatoes, lemongrass, shrimp paste, palm sugar, cumin and tamarind. We then threw the spice paste into a wok containing heated oil with some more lemongrass, salam leaves and kaffir lime leaves for a few seconds. Once it had cooked for about a minute we added the chicken and coated it with the spices. After the chicken was lightly browned we added water and boiled it for about fifteen more minutes, then to finish the dish we added some coconut milk at the end and let it simmer for another minute.

For some vegetables we made kangkung pelecing, or water spinach with tomato sambal. The tomato sambal had chillies, shallots, garlic, candlenut, shrimp paste and tomatoes. The sambal mixture was then fried in some oil and cooled. Later we mixed it with some blanched water spinach, shredded kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, fried shallots, and sweet soy sauce.

Since nasi goreng, or fried rice, is so popular we had to make some of that. It is a little different than Chinese fried rice, or at least fried rice that I'm used to, but it was still good. The version we made included garlic, shallots, chillies, leek, fried shallots, bok choy, a sweet tomato sauce, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce and maggi sauce.

We also made a peanut sauce to pour over the gado-gado or steamed vegetables. The sauce had garlic, chillies, sea salt, fried shallots, tomato, sweet soy sauce, kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar, lime juice, shrimp paste and, of course peanuts. The last thing we prepared was sambal matah, or raw chili seasoning. It included chillies, lemongrass, torch ginger bud, torch ginger shoot, roasted shrimp paste, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, sea salt and oil.

For dessert we had dadar unti, or green crepes with coconut, and bubur injin, or black rice pudding. The crepes were colored with a syrup made from pandan leaves, or screwpine leaves. The coconut filling for the dadar unti was grated coconut cooked with palm sugar syrup, a pinch of salt, and pandan leaf, which has a taste closest to vanilla. The bubur injin was cooked with pandan leaf and once it was the rice was soft palm sugar was added. After the rice pudding was dished out we topped it with coconut milk and some of the coconut filling for the dadar unti.

When our cooking class was over we headed back to the hotel to relax for a couple of hours.

You can read the original article here. You can also read about Putu's journey with the Chings here and here.

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