On The Lack of Indonesian Food

Fabulous Fries

I'm not a big fan of western food. I have never been a big fan of hamburgers, hot dogs, or pizzas. But I have always loved steaks and spaghetti. The latter is because my mum used to cook us spaghetti on special occasions. She always made the sauce from scratch and it was always good. I'm a big fan of food made from scratch. Canned food is a big no-no for me though I'll still eat it if I have to. I guess that makes me a princess.

I'm a HUGE fan of Indonesian food and Canada is really the worst place for that. Indonesian restaurants in Ontario can only be found in the most unlikely places and even then, the food they serve is far from being authentic. The only Indonesian food I've had in a restaurant that tastes almost authentic is the Lobster Martabak I had at Bhima's Warung in Waterloo on our first wedding anniversary. The authentic martabak would have ground beef instead of lobster in it, but I don't mind lobster.

Before I left Indonesia, I hardly ever cooked. I baked, but not cooked. In order to meet my own demand for homemade Indonesian food, I have learned to come up with recipes for my favourite Indonesian food. I just have to try to remember what something tastes like and then try to extract the ingredients in my brain. I'm getting pretty good at it after several failed attempts. I cook Indonesian food a lot and I like my Indonesian food spicy, which doesn't bode well with Troy's western tastebud. Poor Troy. He has to fend for himself a lot. Good thing he likes his toast.

I guess I should end this post by sharing one of my favourite made-up recipes which I believe tastes very Indonesian. It's called Spicy Oven-baked Fish Fillet. I guess it's more or less my version of Pepes Ikan. I'll just describe it quickly in a not so professional manner because I'm not a professional cook.

First, heat up the oven to 375° F. Then grab a piece of aluminium foil, big enough to wrap the fish fillet. Put about 2 or 3 tablespoons of sambal oelek on the aluminium foil and then a teaspoon of the following: onion powder, garlic powder, ginger powder, coriander powder, lemongrass powder, and turmeric powder, plus salt and sugar to taste, and a tablespoon of cooking oil. Mix well. Coat the fish well with the concoction, wrap, and put it in the oven for half an hour. Serve with white rice. It's spicy, but oh so good! I had it for lunch yesterday and had it again today. It's that good! Give it a try!

20 Comments

  1. tia
    November 11, 2008

    Hey, I am going to try your pepes ikan ver­sion, it looks much eas­ier than the banana leaves thing, but still sound so del­ish! What kind of fish did you use? Any?

    Reply
  2. Eric
    November 12, 2008

    Born, grew up, and liv­ing in Indone­sia my whole life, I’ve nev­er give much thought about the food I eat here. But read­ing your post, I guess I have to start appre­ci­ate it. Per­haps we should start an Indone­sian restau­rant there :)
    I guess you can always try the recipe from http://masakmasak.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  3. Lance
    November 12, 2008

    I haven’t tast­ed Indone­sian food before but I hear it’s rich in fla­vor, as is the rest of South­east Asian cuisine. The best judge of Indone­sian food qual­i­ty must be an Indone­sia her/himself, so if Canada has bad Indone­sia food, I take it to mean it’s real­ly NOT good. :D

    Reply
  4. Firda
    November 12, 2008

    tia: I like tilapia, but the near­by gro­cery store doesn’t stock it so I just use had­dock, which is actu­al­ly cheap­er than tilapia and just as good.
    Eric: There’s noth­ing like hav­ing your favourite Indone­sian food deliv­ered to your doorstep by street ven­dors. I have none of that here! We had the best bubur ayam, somay, sate ayam, and bak­so ven­dors patrolling our street back home…
    Lance: It’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly bad. Just not like any­thing I’ve ever had in Indone­sia.

    Reply
  5. Eric
    November 12, 2008

    Fir­da, that’s true. No won­der the culi­nary show (where the host trav­el to places in Indone­sia to taste the food in local resto or street ven­dor) on TV is so pop­u­lar. Next time you vis­it Indone­sia (espe­cial­ly Ban­dung) I’ll treat you with some of those (bubur ayam, siomay, sate, bak­so).

    Reply
  6. Firda
    November 12, 2008

    I noticed that some street food in Ban­dung tastes dif­fer­ent from Jakarta’s. I prefer Jakarta’s but I remem­ber that the sate ayam in Mar­ga­hayu where my aunt lives still tastes pret­ty damn good! And I think somay is called baso ikan in Ban­dung. Weirdos! :)

    Reply
  7. Eric
    November 12, 2008

    Yes, the taste is prob­a­bly dif­fer­ent. That explains why so many peo­ple from Jakar­ta go to Ban­dung on week­ends :) and yes, siomay in Ban­dung is called “baso tahu”. my favourite is nasi soto ayam madu­ra. and sate ayam.

    Reply
  8. tia
    November 12, 2008

    what? all my life liv­ing in ban­dung, siomay has always been siomay… it is a part of ‘baso tahu set’, but the siomay itself nev­er been called baso tahu.
    any­way, fir­da, I don’t have any fish in the freez­er, would the recipe also work for chick­en?

    Reply
  9. Eric
    November 12, 2008

    @tia — what I mean is peo­ple in Jakar­ta used to say “siomay” when they want to buy, what peo­ple in Ban­dung used to say, “baso tahu”.

    Reply
  10. Firda
    November 13, 2008

    tia: I tried it with chick­en once and it didn’t taste all that great. It’s great with shrimps, though. In fact, I orig­i­nal­ly made the recipe up for cook­ing shrimps.

    Reply
  11. tia
    November 13, 2008

    oh good­ie! I do have frozen king prawns, do you think I should reduce the bak­ing time for shrimp? won’t they go all rub­bery

    Reply
  12. Firda
    November 13, 2008

    20 min­utes cook­ing time should be enough for shrimps.

    Reply
  13. tia
    November 13, 2008

    it was a hoot! Thanks Fir­da! Hus­band loved it but I think I put too much sam­bal oelek… oh well, next time bet­ter

    Reply
  14. Firda
    November 13, 2008

    I hope you loved it too. :)

    Reply
  15. tia
    November 14, 2008

    oh, no ques­tion about it!

    Reply
  16. Bernhard
    November 16, 2008

    Hi Fir­da! Ever tried to use the real stuff instead of pow­der of every­thing?

    Reply
  17. Firda
    November 16, 2008

    I have, but the idea is to make some­thing quick.

    Reply
  18. Pepy
    November 18, 2008

    That hap­pened to me! I bare­ly could cook when I was in Indone­sia. Now? I’m a bet­ter cook since it becomes my pro­fes­sion in Canada

    Reply
  19. Tia
    April 21, 2014

    Years lat­er, two con­ti­nents relo­ca­tions, Fir­da, this is still the only way I would make fish at home. Fun­ny that when I had the orig­i­nal pepes ikan in Indone­sia I didn’t even like it. I thank you for your ver­sion!

    Reply
    1. Firda
      April 21, 2014

      Cool! Who knew this stu­pid blog could be use­ful. :-P

      Reply

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