Auguest 2021: Maria Reed

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves)

“Explore food beyond borders. Travel around the world, delve into different cultures, learn from people you cross paths with, and create recipes you’ve never tried before.” — Maria Reed

Auguest 2021: Maria Reed

Hello Everyone! I’m Maria. My love for food can be traced back to my roots. I inherited it from my family. My nanay, inang, mama, and aunts love to cook. Having a big family gives us reasons to celebrate and feast most of the time. I never learned how to cook until I got married and had to find my way around the kitchen on my own. I could still vividly remember when I started; I’d ask my mom for her recipes, watch a lot of videos, and read countless food blogs. I’ve travelled, tried new cuisines, and discovered my passion in recreating dishes I’ve had or never had before. I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone and became a junkie – learning, creating, and tweaking recipes.

I will be taking you on a trip to Indonesia on the Flavours of Southeast Asia journey here on Amcarmen’s Kitchen. The dish that I will be sharing with everyone is called Pepes Ikan. ‘Pepes’ is a cooking method where food (usually fish) is wrapped in banana leaves with its marinade. It is first steamed which gives it an earthy flavour and then grilled or baked for a smoky taste.

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves)

The spices are mashed together to a paste and then added with basil leaves, Indonesian bay leaves, tomatoes, and peppers with fish. All are wrapped in banana leaves and sealed with bamboo sticks at each end. Pepes Ikan is often thought of to be a Sundanese dish; favourite among the Sundanese people in the West Java, but it is also popular in other regions of Indonesia.

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves) Ingredients

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves) Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 2-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large tilapia fish
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 shallots, chopped
  • 1 pc fresh red chilli pepper
  • 10 pcs candlenuts, roasted
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste, toasted
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and cut into 2 inches long
  • 10 pcs kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • Bunch of Thai basil leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 pc lime, sliced
  • 2 knobs fresh turmeric, chopped
  • 1 knob fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Banana leaf
  • Bamboo sticks

METHOD

  1. Pat dry the tilapia fish with a paper towel. Rub with the juice of half a lime and set aside.
  2. Paste: Add the chopped garlic, shallots, turmeric, chillies, and roasted candlenuts into a food processor, and blend into a smooth paste.
  3. Transfer the paste into a bowl, together with the fish, lemongrass, juice of half a lime, shrimp paste, ground cumin, sugar, salt, and bay leaves (if available).
  4. Place everything into a pan over medium high and add about half a cup of water so it won’t burn. Simmer for 15 minutes, flipping the fish halfway and season as needed. Turn the heat off and let it cool before wrapping.
  5. Once the fish has cooled down, lay some banana leaves with the bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, lime slices, tomato wedges, and Thai basil leaves on top. Place the fish on top with the spice marinade, and top with more bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil leaves, and tomatoes.
  6. Seal the banana leaf with bamboo sticks on both ends and brush it with some oil. Place into a pan over medium high and grill, flipping until the banana leaf is wilted, for about 15 minutes or less. This process enhances the taste and aroma of the dish.
  7. Serve and plate with carrots and cucumber on the side. Enjoy!

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves)

Note: To make this dish more authentic, use bilimbi, also known as tree cucumbers and are known for their tart-tangy flesh, instead of lime and dahun salam, Indonesian bay leaves, instead of kaffir lime leaves.

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2021 | Maria Reed (@mariacocinera)

BON APPÉTIT

– Maria Reed

myTaste.com

Tahu Telur (Indonesian Tofu Omelette)

Hello Everyone! So if you saw my recipe yesterday for Homemade Egg Tofu, you’ll know that I’m back with a recipe that uses them in the dish that I will be sharing tonight.

Back in my very first post in May when we first landed in Indonesia for our Flavours of Southeast journey, I mentioned that there was this Indonesian restaurant in Brunei that my family and I would always go to on a weekly basis. One of the dishes that we would always order is Tahu Telur, or in English, Indonesian Tofu Omelette. It is an inexpensive and humble dish that originated from East Java, and although meatless, it is packed with protein from the eggs and tofu, making it perfect for those on a ovo-vegetarian diet. The dish may seem intimidating in terms of its preparation, but trust me, it doesn’t require much skill and is actually easy to put together. It’s also worth it!

Tahu Telur (Indonesian Tofu Omelette)

What makes this tahu telur dish stand out from other omelettes out there is its tower-like structure. You can also find flat versions of this dish, but it’s not as exciting and dynamic as a vertical omelette in my opinion. To achieve this tower, you’ll need a ring mold to cook the eggs and tofu in. If you do not have a ring mold, you can DIY one from a tin can that is at least 4 inches in diameter and 5 inches high. This is what I did when I could not seem to find ring molds in stores; and it worked just as good!

When fried the eggs are fluffy and crispy on the outside, but soft and moist on the inside when you cut through it due to the tofu that’s mixed in it. You can top it with various fresh vegetables of your choice to add a different crunch that’s refreshing to the palette. The dish is then brought together with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce that you can easily adjust to suit your liking.

1907

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the tauhu telur

  • 5 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Homemade egg tofu*, deep fried
  • Cooking oil

*I used a quarter serving of this recipe, and cut them into 8 rectangular pieces.

For the peanut sauce

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 red chillies
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 tbsp kicap manis
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp peanut butter

To garnish

  • Blanched bean sprouts
  • Fresh red chillies, chopped
  • Spring onion

METHOD

  1. Peanut Sauce: In a small pan, fry the garlic cloves and chillies until soft and browned. Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until combined.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced and slightly thickened. You may want to add more kicap manis at this point to darken the colour of the sauce. Once done, remove from the heat and set aside. Reheat later if needed.
  3. Tauhu Telur: Beat the eggs, tapioca flour, and salt together until well combined. Dissolve as much of the flour as possible.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat over medium-high, enough oil so that you are able to scoop up using a ladle, I used about 6 to 8 cups. Place the ring mold in the center of the pan and ladle the hot oil over the mold to prevent sticking while cooking.
  5. Pour about a third of the egg mixture into the ring mold and let it cook for about 30 to 45 seconds. Add half of the deep fried egg tofu to the eggs and cook for a further 30 seconds, ladling hot oil into the mold.
  6. Add another third of the egg mixture and top with the remaining egg tofu. Ladle more hot oil into the mold, and then add the remaining egg mixture on top.
  7. Reduce the heat down to medium and cook by continuously ladling hot oil on top of the mixture. Remove the oil if it stops sizzling and pour hot oil on top, repeating until golden brown in colour, about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the egg is cooked enough that it can hold its shape upright.
  8. Using a knife, gently scrape the inner side of the mold to loosen the egg. Use tongs to slowly and gently pull the mold away from the egg. Continue to cook until the sides are golden brown in colour.
  9. Once done, remove from the pan and shake off any excess oil. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any more excess grease.
  10. Transfer to a serving plate with the peanut sauce, and top with the blanched bean sprouts, fresh chillies, and spring onion. Enjoy!

Tahu Telur (Indonesian Tofu Omelette)

1909

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

Hello Everyone! Tonight’s recipe is actually also a national fish dish in East Timor. As we’ve covered back in March when we travelled through East Timor on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey, the country was invaded and colonised by Indonesia after they gained their independence from Portugal. Therefore a lot of their cuisine is also inspired by Indonesian culture.

I’ve actually never had Ikan Pepes before; I guess the closest I’ve had that’s similar to this dish is Ikan Bakar, which in English literally means ‘burn fish’. The main difference between the two is how the banana leaves are used.

Pepes is an Indonesian cooking method using banana leaves as a food wrapping and secured with a fastener made from the central ribs of a coconut leaf (known as lidi seumat). The banana leaf package containing the food is then steamed or grilled over charcoal. Bakar on the other hand is a charcoal-grilling method where sometimes a sheet of banana leaf placed between the food and grill to prevent it from sticking to the grill and breaking into pieces.

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

Ikan Pepes is made by generously smothering the fish in a spice mixture. The mixture may vary among regions and places, but usually consists of a combination of shallots, garlic, chillies, coriander, tamarind paste, candlenuts, turmeric, galangal, and salt; all pounded together using a mortar and pestle, or blitzed in a food processor to create a paste. The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves to not only protect the fish from excessive charring, but also to add a subtle touch of fragrance to the dish as a whole. The fish is then typically eaten with rice for a complete meal.

You can use any type of fish for this dish as you prefer, such as snapper, perch, bream, or tilapia, and you may also opt to use fish fillets rather than cooking with a whole fish especially for those who don’t like struggling with fish bones. Likewise, while the method of pepes is commonly used to prepare fish, other ingredients such as shrimp, squid, chicken, beef, tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, or other vegetables are also available to be prepared using this method.

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves) Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 red snappers (about 500g each in weight), descaled, gutted, and cleaned
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

For the spice mixture

  • 3 red chillies, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), finely chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized turmeric, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp raw peanuts
  • 7 cherry tomatoes*, halved
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh banana leaves

To garnish

  • Lemon wedges
  • Red chillies, chopped
  • Spring onion (green parts), chopped

*Or use one small tomato and roughly chop. I used cherry tomatoes because I had some lying around that were getting soft.

METHOD

  1. Spice Mixture: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, onion, lemongrass, turmeric, and peanuts together until it forms into a rough paste. Add the tomatoes and continue to pound until they start to break down.
  2. Add in the shrimp paste, coconut sugar, tamarind paste, and season with salt. Use a spoon to mix them all together until well combined.

If using a food processor, add all the ingredients together and blend into a rough paste.

  1. Ikan Pepes: Place the prepared fish, that has been seasoned with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, on top of a piece of banana leaf, on top of a piece of aluminium foil.
  2. Stuff the cavity of the snapper fish with the green parts of the lemongrass and white part of the spring onion. This is optional as I didn’t want to put these parts to waste so I decided to use them in the dish as well.
  3. Generously cover both sides of the fish with the spice mixture and enclose it in the banana leaf, and aluminium foil.
  4. Place the fish over a grill and cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes on one side, and 10 minutes on the other; a total of 25 minutes, or until cooked through depending on the size of your fish or method of cooking.
  5. Once done, remove from the grill and transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with some spring onions, extra chillies, and lemon wedges on the side. Serve immediately while hot with rice. Enjoy!

1898

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Hello everyone! Oh where did the days go; how is it that we’re already into the fifth month of 2021? Well, as you all know, a new month means we’re packing up and saying goodbye (for now) to the Philippines to venture on to our next country on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey.

Last year, I was looking forward to travelling to Indonesia, Bali to be exact, for the very first time. I had my itinerary all planned out, jam-packed with activities down to the last minute. I signed up for an authentic cooking class that included a market and Balinese rice terrace tour. All of that was unfortunately cancelled due to the global pandemic. Our family trip was supposed to be in early April of 2020, and by mid-March our country had already gone into a national enhanced community quarantine that is still being implemented to this present day. Yes, since the later part of 2020 did quarantine restrictions ease, but we’re nevertheless, still in quarantine.

Even if I haven’t had the chance to travel to Indonesia just yet, I’ve experienced authentic Indonesian cuisine almost on a weekly basis when I was living in Brunei. Every Saturday evening after attending anticipated mass, we (my Mom, my sister, and myself) would go to our favourite Indonesian restaurant and order our favourite dishes such as nasi goreng, ayam penyet, satay, and tahu telur to name a few. I even had Indonesian food regularly when I was living in Australia; one place in particular on Kensington street, near UNSW’s main campus, that I would line up for their delicious ayam or ikan bakar (grilled chicken/fish).

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Tonight, I will be sharing a classic favourite, nasi goreng. Nasi Goreng is considered the national dish of Indonesia, and literally translates to fried rice . It is a rice dish cooked with meat or seafood, and vegetables, however, there is no single defined recipe for it. Its composition and preparation varies greatly from household to household in all regions where the dish is native to. The key distinction though to nasi goreng is its smoky aroma, from the wok hay* as it’s fried, and the caramelised yet savoury undertones of flavour from the kecap manis**.

The version of nasi goreng that I will be sharing tonight is actually called Nasi Goreng Santri, which is vegetarian fried rice. While there are no specific vegetables that you can use to make up an authentic Indonesian vegetarian fried rice, I decided to make mine with tofu and bean sprouts. Feel free to bulk it up with your choice of vegetables to your liking. You can’t skip the fried sunny side up egg as nasi goreng is traditionally served with it to make it a complete meal.

You also cannot serve nasi goreng without a sambal of some sort on the side. I decided to make a simple sambal oelek which is a raw Indonesian chilli paste made of red chillies, vinegar, and salt. The word sambal is an Indonesian word referring to a sauce made primarily with chili peppers, while oelek refers to a mortar and pestle. Therefore, sambal oelek is Indonesian for a chilli sauce ground with a mortar and pestle.

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the nasi goreng

  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely minced
  • 1 stalk scallion (white part only), chopped
  • 3 pcs firm tofu, fried and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups cooked white rice, day old and cold
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis

If you can’t find kecap manis at your local grocers, or don’t have any readily available in your pantry, you can simply make your own! Just combine 1/4 cup ordinary soy sauce and 1/4 cup brown sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce until it becomes maple syrup-like in consistency. As it cools, the mixture will thicken more.

For the sambal oelek

  • 10 pcs red bird’s eye chillies, stems removed
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp salt

To serve with

  • Bok choy, blanched
  • Crispy fried shallots/onions
  • Sambal oelek
  • Scallion (green parts), chopped
  • Sunny side up egg

METHOD

  1. Sambal Oelek: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the red chillies they start to break down. Make sure not to pound too much; leave the chillies a bit coarse, not a fine paste.
  2. Add the vinegar and salt, and using a spoon, mix together until the salt has dissolved. Transfer to a small serving bowl and set aside until ready to serve.
  3. Nasi Goreng: Add oil to a large pan over high heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic and red chillies to the pan and sauté until the garlic is lightly golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Follow with the onions and scallions, continuing to sauté for a further 30 seconds.
  4. Add the fried tofu and sauté for about a minute or two before adding the bean sprouts. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Cook for a further minute or two.
  5. Add the cooked rice and mix well, breaking up any remaining clumps of rice. Add the kecap manis and cook, stirring constantly to ensure that every single grain of rice is coated with the sweet soy sauce and start to caramelise. Cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Once the rice is done, plate up and top with garnishes of choice, I went with crispy fried shallots/onions, and green scallions. Serve with the sambal oelek, blanched bok choy, and sunny side up egg***. Enjoy!

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Notes:

  • *‘Wok hay’ is Cantonese phrase used to describe a particular essence and aroma that is created in a dish when authentic stir-frying is performed. ‘Hay’ means energy or breath; therefore, ‘wok hay’ means “the energy or breath of a wok”.
  • **Kecap manis is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. Compared to mildly salty regular soy sauce, the sweet soy sauce has a slightly thicker consistency, and tastes much sweeter.
  • ***Omit the egg if you want to make this dish vegan-friendly.

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com