Life

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 thoughts on “On The Lack of Indonesian Food”

  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. 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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