And In That Moment, We Were Infinite

Tofu & Tempeh Salad with Peanut Sauce 01
Peanut Sauce 02Tofu Tempeh Salad 4Tofu Tempeh Salad 5Tofu Tempeh Salad 7

I’ve been religiously following a documentary called Baby Boom, showing what happens in the largest maternity ward in Ile-de-France (where Paris is located), who counts 4,200 births every year or over 10 babies every day. 50 cameras are installed all over the hospital recording the midwives, couples’ journey from their arrival at the hospital until birth of their baby, including interviews with parents-to-be and occasionally, their families. I love the show so much, not only because it is insightful on how my delivery is going to be but also because I understand that every birth, every baby is special. I get that now. Everyone has their own story and the producers/editors of this documentary are able to capture the deeper side of each story, eg. how much more sensible the midwives are towards 16-yo mother-to-be, the different futur papa (those who can’t stop smoking, those who talk to the baby in the belly to come out, come out and play, those are more anxious than their partners, etc). At times the stories are funny (dad fainting as soon as baby laid on the mom’s chest, dad eating pizza in the birth room while mom struggles with contraction), at times heart wrenching (baby not breathing, new parents praying together after delivery). It’s a wonderful documentary and according to my spanish friend, similar program exists in Spain. So if you get a chance to see one, I’d recommend watching it.

Anyway, here’s a simple salad that I like to treat myself to. Made simpler by the ready made peanut sauce. The Indonesian Embassy in Paris has a canteen/mini mart that’s open to public, so you can go there to have lunch or just stock on ingredients like this peanut sauce, tempeh, candlenuts, sweet soy sauce, sambal ABC, Indomie etc. This is a big portion of salad for one, good to make when you want to clean out your fridge.

P.s. The prawn crakers is a must. You have not lived until you eat prawn crakers dipped in peanut sauce. (more…)


A Woman of Her Own

Times Haiku

This year’s Eid, I don’t know why I kept on thinking about my maternal grandmother. She usually made ketupat (rice cake in woven palm leaves), chicken curry, mutton curry, sayur lodeh and few other side dishes like sambal telur goreng (spicy deep fried egg) to celebrate the day. Occasionally she would send them by courier to us in Jakarta while other times she would come to visit us. She never wanted to leave her home, deep in Sumatra island, even when she needed to be taken care of. She was always an independent woman, one who wore a bright red lipstick. I used to savor her lipstick mark on my cheeks until my mom reached over and rubbed it off.

I got a lipstick mark, I was kissed, I was loved and nothing else matters.

When she was still alive, she never could stay still. She would wake up at 4am to run (even when her knees couldn’t support her anymore). She drove a boxy 4WD Daihatsu Taft when a woman driving a car was unheard of. She had a pretty successful restaurant and later a hair salon during the time men still expect women to stay at home. Many said she was a sharp business woman, but her business acumen never was passed down to the following generations. It wasn’t up till the morning of my wedding day, I was clued in to the “family secret”. That she was a mother and a grandmother to us in every sense of the word, except in DNA. Quelle horreur! Imagine the kind of scandal this was back in 1950s.

Yeah, that’s my mama. A woman of her own.

So, in memory of my beloved grandmother, the one who always told me to study hard, to go further, who left her small town to check out my university, and who always cooked all our favorites whenever we visited her, here’s Lontong with Sayur Lodeh and Sambal Telur Goreng. I miss you mama, selamat Idul Fitri!

Sayur Lodeh
Sambal Telur Goreng
Telur Goreng LontongLontong Sayur Lodeh Telur Goreng


The Things We Do

Several friends of mine enjoy scouring the deepest part of Luanda searching for Asian ingredients like tofu, bean sprouts, xiao bai cai, chili padi, shallots, tapioca flour, etc. Several times a month they would get together and make a day trip to the far away Chinese farms, buying things by the kilo. When the location gets too dangerous, a driver or a maid would be sent with the shopping list.

The other day when they were taking orders, I decided to put my own order: bean sprouts and fried tofu. I’m particularly missing my childhood snack.

Tahu Isi Goreng 01
This fried stuffed tofu is an Indonesian snack typically sold by the street vendors. You can always find one such vendor by the school gate. Not the most hygienic nor the healthiest, certainly not the kind of food that children should be spending their pocket money on. But there’s something about defying your parents’ order behind their backs and a bag of hot, deep fried stuffed tofu.

Stuffed tofuTahu Isi Goreng 03
For this one, we use the pre-fried, brown skin, hollow and airy tofu. They often look wrinkled too. But they are excellent for stuffing or when dumped into a bowl of curry, they soak up all the excellent juices. If you can’t find this, firm hard tofu is a good substitute.


Raining Spring Rolls in The Kitchen

Vegetable spring rolls traditionally is prepared with fresh bean sprouts, at least the Indonesian version. But the bean sprouts I found here come in a jar, already soaked in vinegar. And no matter what people say or advise, the vinegar taste can’t be camouflaged. It wasn’t awful, but I certainly am not proud of a spring roll like that. In fact, I’m terribly embarrassed! So I started experimenting with other ingredients, like green beans or cabbage, at times with chicken or mince beef and fried egg. This one I made with cabbage, but what made it extra goodilicious is the ginger and spring onion sauce. I think this is my best spring rolls to date, hands-down.

(makes 12 rolls) 

2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
4-5 large cabbage leaves, sliced  1-cm wide. Discard the thick part if you prefer.
5 dried shiitake mushroom, boiled till soft. Throw away the “stalk” and diced the now-soft “umbrella”
3-4 medium shallots, sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder, optional
2-3 dashes of pepper – I used white pepper
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp ginger and scallion sauce
spring roll wrappers 

  • In a non-stick skillet, heat up some oil over medium heat and add in the shallots. After 30 sec or so (when you can start smelling the fragrance), add in the garlic and the ginger scallion sauce. Stir well and don’t let it burnt.
  • Add in the carrots and cabbage. Cover to let it cook for few mins.
  • Once the vegetables have turned soft, lower the heat and start seasoning with salt, pepper and if you like, some chicken seasoning. Season just a tad saltier than it’s supposed to be, because once it’s wrapped and fried, it won’t be as salty, but you still want to have a bite to it.
  • Transfer and let it cool.
  • Once it’s cool enough to handle, use 2 heaping teaspoonful of filling for each roll. Wrap and roll as per photos below. Dab a little water to seal the wrapper.
  • Fry just before serving time. It’s best to be served a little bit hot and still crispy.
~ When frying the rolls, just fill in the skillet with oil to the point when the rolls are dropped inside, it will reach halfway up.Turn them once one side is fried.
~ Before you wrap the rest, do one up and fry it. Taste it see if the seasoning is right for you, before you roll the rest. Good luck!

H is a very lucky man indeed.

Hey! We’re Not Rabbits!

Yeap, that’s what H says when I offered him this cabbage salad for lunch. But how are we going to go meatless if we aren’t even trying?? Eventually we added 2 tins of tuna. Anyway, I’m glad for the change of salad.  I have enough of lettuce and is craving for something different. And this crunchy cabbage just might be the cure.

(inspired by The Edible Perspective)
serve 2

3 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 medium carrot, grated
handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tins of tuna, drained

  • Wash the vegetables & toss everything together. Serve with the lemon honey dressing

juice of half large lemon

1 tsp garlic confit
1 tbsp honey

1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt 

  • In a bowl, whisk the lemon, honey and garlic confit until it forms a thick paste before slowly adding the olive oil. Season with salt & adjust if necessary.

Note: Skip the tuna, if you want to make it a meat-free, light meal. Or substitute it with sharp cheese. The salad is refreshing.