Indonesia's Culinary Treats
By Peter Lancer
While I am no authority on food, I believe I am right when I claim that Indonesia's cuisine is as unique as its culture. And it doesn't stop there. It is not just unique; it is the sort that will boggle your mind. The sort that will scorch your tastebuds. Maybe even, burn it - in a good way!
Having spent a few months in Indonesia in the early '00s- In Jakarta, in Jayapura and probably every place in between, I figured the best way to relive memories was to write about it! And write, I will. Let me introduce you to some of Indonesia most delectable, most satisfying (tr)eats ever!
Indonesia has always been a cultural cauldron thanks to its strategic location. The influence of the Chinese, the Indians and the Dutch is evident in its cuisine. Poultry, vegetables, seafood, you name it, they have it. They really do. With an assortment of some of the best spices, seasonings, sauces and flavours using fresh, local and simple ingredients! Be it a Warung (Food Stall on a Street), a Rumah Makan (Eating Place/House) or a Padang (you guessed it, the town in West Sumatra); you are guaranteed to discover and gulp down food exotic beyond your wildest dreams!
Who hasn't heard of the Satay? Tasty morsels of meat barbequed over coals and served with some of that tasty peanut sauce is legendary stuff. Nasi Goreng, frequently referred to as Indonesia's national dish, is rice smothered with a bit of sweet soy sauce and everything else! For all you folks who dig the fried chicken from the kitchens of a famous American fast food chain, try out the Indonesian version - Ayam Goreng! Juicy chunks fried to perfection, goes down well any time, any day!
Sambal Roa, a sauce that was designed to tickle your tastebuds has chillies, tomatoes, pepper and smoked fish! This is a must if you plan on tackling the Singkong Goreng (Cassava tuberoot - twice fried) Perfect with an ice-cold beer! Just don't forget to let the Sambal Roa wrap itself around the golden, crisp cassava chip AND around your tongue too! Other variants of this scorcher include Sambal Terasi (Chillies and Shrimp paste), Sambal Ulek (Chillies, more chillies and a hint of vinegar - you have been warned!!) and the Sambal Pecal (mild version with tomatoes for the sissies!)
Try the hearty Sop Kambing, a soup choc-a-bloc with vegetables and delicately seasoned with a bit of ginger, spring onions and candlenut! Did I mention the "slips-off-the-bone" chunks of meat swimming in it? This is one soup you'd kill for - on a cold winter day! Another treat would be Siomay - steamed fish dumplings served with - yes, the peanut sauce. This is the Chinese equivalent of dimsum! If you feeling like loading up on the calories, try the fried variant too - the Batagor - Fried yet equally delicious!
Other notable mentions include Bebek Goreng (Fried Duck), Otak-Otak (Fish Cakes) and the Rendang! Go ahead, wolf it all down!
Indonesia's Culinary Treats