Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fried Bananas ( Pisang Goreng )

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3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 to 1 c. water
1 lime, zested and cut into wedges
4 small, ripe bananas
1 c. canola oil for frying
1 tbsp. sugar


  • In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt.
  • Add enough water to make a smooth batter that is somewhat thick. Add lime zest and mix well.
  • Peel bananas and dip them in the batter 2 or 3 times, until well coated.
  • In a deep skillet, heat oil to 375°F, or until a piece of bread browns in 30 seconds.
  • Place bananas in the oil slowly and carefully. Fry two at a time, until they are crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to absorb the oil.
  • To serve, arrange bananas on a plate and sprinkle with sugar. Garnish with lime wedges.
The key to melt-in-your-mouth fried bananas is to cook them immediately before serving so that the crust is crisp and the fruit is soft and warm.

Festive Rice ( Nasi Kuning)

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4 tbsp. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 tbsp. turmeric
1 lb. uncooked Thai fragrant rice
3 c. water
1 14-oz. can reduced-fat coconutmilk
2 stalks lemongrass
1 tsp. salt
1 red chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced thickly
1 tomato, cut into wedges
deep-fried shallots
10 fried shrimp crackers*


  • In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, and turmeric and stir-fry for 3 minutes, until onions are soft but not brown.
  • Add rice and stir to coat.
  • Add water, coconut milk, lemongrass, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
  • Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid.
  • Remove from heat and cover pan with a dish towel. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Remove lemongrass stalks. Mound the rice on a serving platter. Garnish with chili pepper, cucumber, tomato, fried shallots, and shrimp crackers.
*To fry shrimp crackers, cover the bottom of a large skillet with 1/2 inch canola oil. Heat oil to 375°F, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Carefully place shrimp crackers in the oil one by one. Cook until each cracker expands and becomes puffy. Use a slotted spoon to remove each cracker from oil before cracker begins to brown. Drain crackers on paper towels.

Cooking Terms

  • baste—To pour or spoon liquid over food to flavor and moisten it as it cooks.
  • beat—To stir rapidly in a circular motion.
  • blanch—To submerge a food briefly in boiling water.
  • boil—To heat a liquid over high heat until bubbles form and rise rapidly to the surface.
  • bone—To remove the bones from meat or fish.
  • broil—To cook food under a direct flame.
  • brown—To cook food quickly over high heat so that the surface browns evenly.
  • bruise—To crush food slightly, enabling more of the flavor to be released while cooking.
  • core—To remove the core (the inedible central part) from a fruit.
  • cut in—To combine a fat such as vegetable shortening with flour, by cutting or breaking the fat into small pieces and mixing it throughout the flour until mixture has a coarse, mealy consistency.
  • dice—To chop food into small, square pieces.
  • deep-fry—To cook food by immersing it completely in very hot oil or fat. This cooking method seals in flavor and gives food a crispy surface.
  • fillet—A boneless piece of fish or meat.
  • fold—To blend an ingredient with other ingredients by using a gentle overturning circular motion instead of by stirring or beating.
  • garnish—To decorate a dish with small pieces of food, such as chopped parsley or slices of lime.
  • grate—To shred food into tiny pieces by rubbing it against a grater.
  • grill—To cook over hot charcoal.
  • marinate—To soak food in a seasoned liquid in order to add flavor and tenderize it.
  • mince—To chop food into very small pieces.
  • preheat—To allow an oven to warm up to a certain temperature before putting food in it.
  • roast—To cook in an open pan in an oven so that heat penetrates the food from all sides
  • sauté—To fry quickly in oil or fat, over high heat, stirring or turning the food to prevent burning.
  • simmer—To cook over low heat in liquid kept just below its boiling point. Bubbles may occasionally rise to the surface.
  • steam—To cook food with the steam from boiling water.
  • stir-fry—To cook food in a small amount of oil over high heat, stirring constantly. All the ingredients are cut into small pieces before stir-frying so that they cook rapidly. Because of quick cooking, meats are firm yet tender, and vegetables stay fresh and crunchy.
  • zest—To scrape the peel from a lemon, lime, orange, or other citrus fruit using a cheese grater or a special utensil called a zester

Indonesian Special Ingredients

  • bay leaf—The dried leaf of the bay (also called laurel) tree, used to season food.
  • bean sprouts—Edible sprouts, or young shoots, from the mung bean plant. Sprouts can be bought either canned or fresh, or you can grow your own.
  • bok choy—A type of cabbage with long, light green stems and deep green leaves, commonly used in stir-fries.
  • bouillon—A broth typically made from spices, vegetables, and/or meat. Bouillon can be purchased in cans, as a powder, or in cubes.
  • candlenut (kemiri/tingkih)—A round, cream-colored seed with an oily consistency used to add texture and a mild flavor to many Indonesian dishes. If you can’t find candlenuts, you can substitute macadamia nuts or raw cashews.
  • cellophane noodles—Thin, clear noodles made from mung beans.
  • chayote—A green, pear-shaped squash.
  • chives—A member of the onion family. The thin green shoots are chopped and used as a flavoring and a garnish.
  • coconut milk—The white, milky liquid extracted from coconut meat and used to give a coconut flavor to foods. It is available in cans at most grocery stores. Reduced-fat (light) coconut milk can be substituted for regular coconut milk in recipes.
  • coriander—The whole or ground seeds of the cilantro plant, used to season foods.
  • crushed red pepper—The dried seeds and skin of a hot red pepper, used to make foods spicy.
  • cumin—The seeds of an herb used whole or ground to give food a pungent, slightly hot flavor.
  • egg noodles—Wide, flat pasta made from eggs and flour.
  • gelatin—A clear, powdered substance used as a thickening agent.
  • ginger—The knobby, light brown root of a tropical plant, used to flavor food.To use fresh ginger, slice off the amount called for, peel off the skin with the edge of a spoon, and grate the flesh. Freeze the rest of the root for future use. Fresh ginger has a very zippy taste, so use it sparingly. Do not substitute dried ground ginger in a recipe calling for fresh ginger, as the taste is very different.
  • grenadine—The sweet, concentrated juice of a pomegranate, or a pomegranate-
    flavored syrup, often used to flavor foods and drinks.
  • kemiri nut—See candlenut.
  • kunci root—A fibrous, spicy root related to ginger and used to flavor Indonesian dishes.
  • lemongrass—A tropical grass, the thick blades of which are used to add a subtle lemon flavor.
  • macadamia nuts—Round, hard nuts native to Australia that are grown commercially in Hawaii.
  • peanut oil—Oil made from pressed peanuts that is used to stir-fry and deep-fry foods.
  • raw peanuts—Peanuts that have not been roasted, salted, or flavored in any other way. Raw peanuts are often sold in bulk at grocery stores, food co-ops, and Asian markets.
  • rice wine vinegar—Vinegar made from rice wine.
  • salam leaf (daun salam)—A subtly flavored leaf of the cassia family.
  • sambal—See Thai chili paste.
  • scallions—Another name for green onions.
  • shallots—A member of the onion family, shallots are widely used in Indonesian cooking. They are peeled and pounded to make spice pastes, sliced and added to food before cooking, and sliced and deep-fried to make a garnish.
  • shrimp crackers—Small, Chinese-style crackers made from rice flour, wheat, or corn.
  • shrimp paste (terasi)—Bottled shrimp concentrate with a thick consistency.
  • tamarind—The dark amber pulp of the fruit of the tamarind tree, an evergreen native to Asia. Tamarind can be purchased in pressed cakes and reconstituted with water.
  • Thai chili paste—A thick, spicy pepper sauce used to flavor Asian dishes.
  • Thai fragrant (jasmine) rice—A short-grained white rice with a hint of sweet, spicy flavor that makes a great accompaniment to Indonesian dishes.
  • tofu—A processed curd made from soybean milk. Tofu is available in the health food section of larger grocery stores and from food coops. Plain tofu tastes bland, but it absorbs flavor from other foods. It is a good source of protein.
  • turmeric—A yellow, aromatic spice made from the root of the turmeric plant.
  • white wine vinegar—Vinegar made from white wine.
  • zest—The very outer, brightly colored peel of citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges.

Chinese Special Ingredients

  • bamboo shoots—Tender, fleshy yellow sprouts from bamboo canes.
  • bean sprouts—Sprouts from the mung bean. Be sure not to confuse bean sprouts with alfalfa sprouts, which are smaller and finer.
  • brown candy—A hard form of dark sugar available in packages or sometimes
    sold in bulk at specialty markets.
  • chard—A vegetable with dark green, yellow, or bright red leaves. Its stalks and leaves can be cooked or eaten raw.
  • Chinese black vinegar—A dark vinegar with a deeper, smokier flavor than light rice vinegar. It is available at most supermarkets or specialty stores.
  • Chinese (celery) cabbage—A pale green vegetable with broad, tightly packed leaves, often used in soups and stir-fries. Other leafy green vegetables, such as fresh spinach or chard, can be substituted for Chinese cabbage.
  • cornstarch—A fine, white starch made from corn and used to thicken sauces. When using cornstarch, put the required amount of dry cornstarch
    in a cup and add just enough cold water to form a smooth, thin paste. Then add this mixture to the other ingredients. This method keeps the cornstarch from forming lumps when cooked.
  • duck or plum sauce—A thick sauce often used as a dip. Made from plums, chilies, sugar, and spices, it is available at most grocery stores.
  • garlic—A bulb-forming herb with a strong, distinctive flavor. Each bulb can be broken up into several small sections called cloves. Before you chop up a clove of garlic, remove the brittle, papery covering that surrounds it.
  • gelatin—A clear, powdered protein used as a thickening agent.
  • ginger root—A knobby, light brown root used to flavor food. To use fresh ginger root, slice off the amount called for, peel off the skin with the side of a spoon, and grate the flesh. Freeze the rest of the root for future use. Do not substitute dried ground ginger for fresh ginger, as the taste is very different.
  • glutinous rice flour—A powder made from sweet or glutinous rice, available at most specialty stores. Also called sticky rice flour or sweet rice flour, this is different from regular rice flour and the two cannot be substituted for each other.
  • hoisin sauce—A dark, sweet, thick sauce made from soybeans, sugar, and spices. It can be used in cooking or as a dip. Hoisin sauce is available at most supermarkets.
  • oyster sauce—A sauce made from oysters, sugar, and soy sauce, used in cooking and as a dip. Oyster sauce is available at grocery stores or specialty markets.
  • rice—There are three main varieties of rice. Long-grain rice, the kind used in most Chinese recipes, is fluffy and absorbs more water than other types of rice. Short-grain rice has shorter, thicker grains that tend to stick together when cooked. Sweet or glutinous rice is used in Chinese pastries and special festival dishes.
  • scallion—A variety of green onion.
  • sesame oil—A strongly flavored oil made from sesame seeds.
  • soy sauce—A salty-tasting sauce made from soybeans.
  • sugar (snow) peas—Tender, green pea pods.
  • wonton skins—Small, thin squares of soft dough made from flour, water, and eggs. Dumpling wrappers are similar to wonton skins, but they are always round.

Japanese Special Ingredients

  • bamboo shoots—Tender, fleshy yellow sprouts from bamboo canes. They can be bought fresh in Japan, and canned ones are usually available elsewhere.
  • chives—A member of the onion family whose thin, green stalks are chopped and used to garnish many dishes.
  • dashinomoto—An instant powdered soup base made from dried seaweed
    and flakes of dried bonito fish called katsuobushi. (Homemade soup stock is called dashi.)
  • ginger root—A knobby, light brown root used to flavor food. To use fresh ginger root, slice off the amount called for, peel off the skin with the side of a spoon, and grate the flesh. Freeze the rest of the root for future use. Fresh ginger has a very zippy taste, so use it sparingly. (Don’t substitute dried ground ginger in a recipe calling for fresh ginger, as the taste is very different).
  • katsuobushi—Dried shavings of the bonito fish; used as a garnish for many dishes and to flavor soup stock.
  • miso—A paste made from soybeans and used in soups, sauces, and as a garnish.
  • noodles—An important staple that is available in many forms and served in many ways.Three popular kinds are soba (buckwheat noodles), somen (thin wheat noodles), and udon (thick wheat noodles).
  • rice—An important cereal grain that comes in three varieties. Short-grain rice, the kind used in the recipes in this book, has short, thick grains that tend to stick together when cooked. Sweet or glutinous rice is used to make special dishes. Long-grain rice is fluffy and absorbs more water than other types. It is not used in Japanese cooking.
  • rice vinegar—Vinegar made from rice.
  • scallion—A variety of green onion.
  • sesame seeds—Seeds from an herb grown in tropical countries. Sesame seeds are white or black in color and are often toasted and used either whole or crushed.
  • shiitake—Black mushrooms, either dried or fresh, used in Japanese cooking. Dried mushrooms must be rinsed in lukewarm water before cooking to make them tender.
  • shiratakiYam noodles, available canned at most large supermarkets and at specialty food shops.
  • soy sauce—A sauce made from soybeans and other ingredients that is used to flavor Asian cooking. Japanese soy sauce (shoyu) is recommended for the recipes in this blog.
  • tofu—A processed curd made from soybeans.

Metric Conversions

MASS (weight)
1 ounce (oz.) = 28.0 grams (g)
8 ounces = 227.0 grams
1 pound (lb.) or 16 ounces = 0.45 kilograms (kg)
2.2 pounds= 1.0 kilogram

1/4 inch (in.) = 0.6 centimeters (cm)
1/2 inch = 1.25 centimeters
1 inch = 2.5 centimeters

1 teaspoon (tsp.) = 5.0 milliliters (ml)
1 tablespoon (tbsp.) = 15.0 milliliters
1 fluid ounce (oz.) = 30.0 milliliters
1 cup (c.) = 240 milliliters
1 pint (pt.) = 480 milliliters
1 quart (qt.) = 0.95 liters (l)
1 gallon (gal.) = 3.80 liters

212°F = 100°C (boiling point of water)
225°F = 110°C
250°F = 120°C
275°F = 135°C
300°F = 150°C
325°F = 160°C
350°F = 180°C
375°F = 190°C
400°F = 200°C
(To convert temperature in Fahrenheit to Celsius, subtract 32 and multiply by .56)

8-inch cake pan = 20 x 4-centimeter cake pan
9-inch cake pan = 23 x 3.5-centimeter cake pan
11 x 7-inch baking pan = 28 x 18-centimeter baking pan
13 x 9-inch baking pan = 32.5 x 23-centimeter baking pan
9 x 5-inch loaf pan = 23 x 13-centimeter loaf pan
2-quart casserole = 2-liter casserole

Simmered Beef and Vegetables ( Sukiyaki )

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1 to 1 1/2 lb. rib-eye of beef
1 12-oz. block tofu, cut into 1-inch cube
1 tbsp. oil
1 bunch (about 6) scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small can shirataki
1 8-oz. can sliced bamboo shoots, rinsed under cold, running water
1 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 c. soy sauce
1 1/2 c. water
3 tbsp. sugar


  • Slice beef very thinly. (If meat is slightly frozen, it is much easier to cut).
  • Heat oil in frying pan and saute beef
  • Add scallions, shirataki, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and tofu.
  • Combine remaining ingredients to make a sauce. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables until they are half covered. Adjust heat so that sauce simmers.
  • After about 10 minutes, test a piece of meat to see if it is done.
  • Remove from pan and serve with hot rice.
*To make delicious and satisfying vegetarian sukiyaki, simply omit the beef from the recipe and double the amount of tofu

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stir-Fried Beef with Sugar Peas

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1 lb. lean steak (any boneless cut)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce (optional)
2 tbsp. cornstarch 1 tsp. sesame oil (optional)
1 tsp. sugar
2 c. sugar (snow) peas*
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sliced water chestnuts or bamboo shoots
1/2 c. sliced mushrooms


  • Cut beef across the grain into thin slices. (Meat is easier to cut thinly when it is partly frozen.)
  • Marinate beef in mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil, and sugar. Set aside.
  • Remove stems and strings from sugar peas, leaving pods intact. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Put 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a hot skillet or wok. Add salt, sugar peas, water chestnuts or bamboo shoots, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring constantly, until peas become a dark green (about 2 minutes). Remove to a bowl.
  • In the same skillet, add remaining 2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Add beef mixture and stir constantly until beef is almost done (about 5 minutes).
  • Return sugar peas, water chestnuts, and mushrooms to the skillet and mix well until heated through.
Remember to work quickly when you make any stir-fried dish. Have everything cut and measured before you start cooking. Cook the meat and vegetables just until they are tender.

* If you have trouble finding sugar (snow) peas, use broccoli, green beans, or any other chopped green vegetable. Pork, chicken, or tofu may also be substituted for beef.

Wonton (Pangsit)

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1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 tbsp. finely chopped scallions
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil (optional)
1 tbsp. water 65 wonton skins*
3 c. vegetable oil (for deep-frying) or 2 1/2 15-oz. cans (about 5 c.) chicken, vegetable, or other broth (for soup) duck sauce (for fried wonton)


  • Mix all ingredients except wonton skins and vegetable oil or broth.
  • Put one tsp. of mixture in the center of a wonton skin. Moisten edges of skin with water and fold to form a tight triangle. Press edges together to seal.
  • Fill and fold rest of skins.
  • For appetizers(fried): Heat oil in a large pot. Add a few wonton at a time and fry until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon. (It is best to ask an experienced cook to help with the deep-frying.) Drain on a paper towel and serve hot with duck sauce.
  • For soup: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a few wonton at a time. Do not overcrowd. Cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat broth in a separate pan. Add cooked wonton to broth. Use about 3 dozen wonton to 5 c. of broth.

Stir-Fried Noodles with Shrimp (Bakmi Goreng Udang)

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5 c. water
1 lb. egg noodles
3 tbsp. peanut oil
1/4 c. onion (about 1/2 medium
onion), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 c. celery leaves and small stems,
chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 scallions, chopped
3 c. bok choy, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper


  • In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
  • Drain noodles and immediately rinse with cold water. Combine noodles with 1 tbsp. peanut oil and set aside.
  • In a mortar and pestle, blender, or food processor, combine 2 tbsp. onion and the garlic to make a paste.
  • Heat the remaining 2 tbsp. oil in a wok or skillet and add the rest of the onion. Add shrimp and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  • Add soy sauce, celery, scallions, bok choy, salt, and pepper and fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Add noodles to the mixture. Stir-fry for 2 more minutes, until all of the ingredients are combined and heated. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Sweet and Sour Beef Sate with Peanut Sauce

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2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. tamarind, dissolved in 1 tbsp.warm water
1 lb. sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. peanut oil

Peanut Sauce:
1 tbsp. peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. water
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 tsp. tamarind, dissolved in 2 tbsp. warm water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. shrimp paste
1 c. creamy, natural peanut butter
(available at most food co-ops)


  • With a mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender, combine coriander, cumin, garlic, salt, brown sugar, and tamarind.
  • Place steak cubes in a medium bowl and add the spice mixture. Use your fingers to rub the spices into the meat. Set meat in the refrigerator and marinate for 1 hour.
  • Prepare some bamboo skewers (to prevent the bamboo skewers from burning, soak them in water for 1 hour before using).
  • In a wide, shallow dish, mix soy sauce, water, and peanut oil.
  • Place four pieces of marinated meat on each skewer and dip the meat into the soy sauce mixture.
  • Broil meat over a charcoal fire or under the broiler of the oven. Cook for 3 minutes on each side.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add water, crushed red pepper,tamarind, salt, sugar, and shrimp paste. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add peanut butter and stir until combined. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often and adding a tablespoon of water if the mixture becomes too thick.
  • Serve warm or hot with hot sate