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 / Add your comment below

  1. 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?

  2. 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/

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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).

  6. 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! :)

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. @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”.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

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

  13. 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

  14. 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!

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