Take a trip to Indonesia from the comfort of your kitchen

Indonesian chicken satays with sweet chilli and peanut sauces on the side. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

OUR friend Surita Joubert, who spent a two weeks with us in Spain while we were on our five-week odyssey in July, is a passionate traveller who last year also visited beautiful Bali, with a trip to New York next on her itinerary.

She enthralled us with stories of this island paradise which now, 10 years after the 2002 bombing, has re-established itself as a vibrant tourism destination.

See a Q&A with Surita further down on the blog today, where she shares her impressions of the island haven.

But in the meantime, if your budget is too abysmal for a blissful trip to Bali, you can conjure up the exotic, spice-infused flavours of Indonesia in your own kitchen – with a little help from The Global Table, of course!

Try our recipe below for delicious chicken satay sticks which, with National Braai Day being marked on Monday, could just as easily be cooked on the barbie instead of grilled in your oven.

The dish is easy to do and goes brilliantly with that other Indonesian favourite: peanut satay sauce. You will also be able to find the delicious, easy recipe on The Global Table blog today.

Recipe: Indonesian chicken satay

The recipe below is enough for 12 skewers. You could also double up the recipe and serve it as a main course with four skewers per person, for a total of four people. Fresh and colourful stir-fry veggies make a good accompaniment along with the peanut satay sauce and some sweet chilli sauce that  your guests can help themselves to.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp peanut or sunflower oil; ½ medium-sized onion, very finely chopped; 3 cloves of garlic, crushed; 1 Tbsp of grated fresh ginger; ½ tsp dried chilli flakes or else ½ to 1 tsp sambal oelek (hot fresh chilli paste or sauce); ½ tsp turmeric (borrie); ½ tsp ground coriander; ¼ tsp ground nutmeg; 500g minced chicken; salt for seasoning; 1 Tbsp desiccated coconut; chickpea flour in case thickening is needed

For serving: 12 sosatie sticks (the thicker bamboo ones are best) which have been soaked in water for a few hours so they don’t burn; some peanut satay sauce: (recipe on The Global Table today); some sweet chilli sauce and some fresh coriander for garnishing

 Method

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook for a few minutes until they start to soften, then add the turmeric, coriander and nutmeg and stir through for another minute or two. Remove from heat and let cool.

Once cooled, mix the onion spice mix and the coconut into the chicken mince using a wooden spoon to incorporate it very thoroughly.

If the mixture is too wet, add a bit of chickpea flour – a tablespoon or so should do it – and mix thoroughly.

Take golf ball-sized quantities of this mixture and shape around the tip of a sosatie stick or skewer, until about 7cm in length.

Handle gently as you don’t want the meat to fall off the sticks; however once cooked the satays are more robust than you’d think.

Once you have your 12 sticks done, lay them onto a greased baking dish, drizzle a bit of oil over the top  and grill in the oven for about 10 minutes, turning gently halfway through.

Serve hot with peanut satay sauce and sweet chilli sauce on the side.

Shortcut

I couldn’t find chicken mince anywhere this week and so discovered you can also follow this recipe using a clever substitute.

I bought four chicken burger patties from The 2 Fat Butchers in Walmer, Port Elizabeth and proceeded to deconstruct them back into a mincey mess!

The patties are free range, with no nasty additives.

I followed the recipe exactly as above but only used half the quantity of onion and garlic, and no salt, as the patties were already seasoned.

Because the patties added up to more than 500g I the recipe yielded 15 satay sticks instead of 12.

Recipe: Peanut satay sauce

This recipe made rather a bit more sauce than you’ll need for the number of skewers above, so you can easily halve it. Using a wooden spoon, mix together the following ingredients:

1 can of coconut milk; half a cup of crunchy peanut butter (use a good, organic brand like the one from Woolworths – there’s likely to be separation with the plasticky kind); 1 Tbsp soya sauce; 1 Tbsp fish sauce; 1 Tbsp grated onion; ½ tsp dried chilli flakes (or sambal oelek to taste); 1 tsp soft brown sugar.

Once mixed, place in a saucepan and bring the the boil, then cook for about 5 min until nicely thickened, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and serve with your skewers.

Surita Joubert with the rice paddies of Jatiluwih, at the foot of Batukaru Mountain, in the background.

My Bali: Q&A with Surita Joubert

Our friend Surita Joubert is originally from Willowmore in the Karoo, but moved to PE to study and later work as a journalist for Media24 which is where we got to know her. She’s always been crazy about travelling, and as a student back-packed fearlessly across Europe on her own.

Now a publicist for NB Publishers in Cape Town, she still makes time for at least one trip to a new destination every year or two.

One such trip was to the Indonesian island of Bali last year, where she was joined by her sister, Hesme. Here are Surita’s impressions.

When did you travel to Bali and how long were you there? Which parts did you get to see?

I was in Bali from May 12 to 21 last year. I stayed in Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali, but did daytrips to a temple and rice paddies at the foot of Batukaru Mountain and to Kintamani from where you can see the live volcanoes, Batur Mountain and Agung Mountain, both north of Ubud. I also did a daytrip to the east coast, to Candidasa and Kusamba, where I stepped onto a black beach for the first time in my life.

Would you go back?

I’d love to, but my list of countries I’d like to visit is so long that I would probably always choose a new destination rather than go back to a place I’ve been to before.

Where did you stay and how did you get around?

I stayed at the Bali Spirit Hotel & Spa. I walked where I could as you see and experience more on foot. The hotel had a free shuttle service at certain times of the day and evening to the centre of Ubud and back, and at a reasonable fee outside of these times. For our daytrips I hired a driver with a vehicle. Many tourists get around on scooters, but in the chaotic traffic of Bali that looked too scary to me!

What did you love most about Bali?

Wherever I travel to the people, their way of life and food intrigue me most. Although the majority of people in Indonesia are Muslim, almost everyone in Bali is Hindu. For the Balinese their religion is everything. They go around every day with a basket of flowers and how everything is blessed from the pavement in front of their house or shop to the car or scooter they will travel with later.

What was your most memorable experience?

My sister and I did a bike trip from Kintamani through the rice paddies and small mountain villages back to Ubud. The trip ended with a traditional home-cooked meal by the wife of the owner of the bike tour company. It was the best meal I had in Bali.

Where did you shop and what did you bring home with you? 

The wonderful thing about Bali is that everything is either made in Bali or in Indonesia. For things like soaps and spa products I shopped at the tourist stores in the centre of Ubud. When it comes to arts and craft, it is best not to shop at the markets or in the main tourist areas. In Ubud you should find out which area of Ubud specializes in the craft that you are interested in and visit the professional stores in that area. It’s more expensive but you will get something that is really special and not mass-produced. A pair of silver peacock earrings is the most treasured thing I brought back. The intricate silver links make the peacocks come to life as you move. 

What was the best thing you ate? And the worst?

Everything is so fresh and ingredients are bought early in the morning at the market. If you order a dish made with coconut milk, you can hear the coconut being drilled open in the restaurant’s kitchen and it was probably picked early that morning too.

It’s a good idea to order a rijsttafel on your first or second day. It was introduced by the Dutch in colonial times when they wanted to sample a variety of Indonesian dishes in one go. This will give you a good introduction to the local cuisine.

My top dish in Bali was the Babi Guling (grilled suckling pig) at the famous Ibu Oka restaurant in Ubud. The meat was soft and so fragrant. As Rick Stein says in his Far Eastern Odyssey: “It was worth crossing continents for”.

Worst: Durian fruit. It smells of onion and tastes like onion with a sweet aftertaste. It was revolting – I couldn’t even swallow the first bite.

Was there any aspect of your trip there that you weren’t prepared for, or surprised by?

I wasn’t prepared for the chaotic traffic. Bali is mostly advertised with photos of serene rice paddies and tropical beaches. The trip from Denpasar Airport to our hotel was quite an introduction. There were no road signs and the only rules were patience and respect. The roads are very congested and scooters zigzag through the cars and trucks. On the second day I decided to take my eyes off the road ahead for the rest of my stay and enjoy the scenery through my window.

What advice do you have for the first-time traveller to Bali?

Bali is a very popular tourist destination. If you don’t do your research you might end up spending your holiday among tourists in a tourist resort and experience nothing of the real Bali. Most holiday packages advertised are for the areas of Kuta and the Bukit Peninsula south of the airport. If you just want a relaxing beach holiday with lots of luxuries, fun activities, shopping and a great night life, this is for you. But if you want a more authentic experience, stay away from these areas. Travel agents are able to put together good packages for the rest of Bali as well, but it is best to tell them where you want to go. Avoid the peak season in August and over Christmas and New Year.

Surita Joubert (left) and her sister Hesmé on the black beach at Kusamba on the east coast of Bali.

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