Balinese mixed vegetable salad – Urap Campur

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Pic by Mark Ulyseas

Ingredients:

4 tbsp Duck sauce
50 gr Roasted coconut grated
50 gr red bean cooked
50 gr Long bean cooked and sliced
50 gr Fern tip blanched and sliced
50 gr Spinach blanched
1 pce Lime juice
3 tbsp Fried shallot to garnish
Salt to taste
Sambal Goreng
3 cloves Garlic
6 pcs Shallot
2 pcs Red large chilli
1pce Red small chilli
Half tbsp Shrimp Paste
Half tbsp Salt

 

Method

Slice all ingredients for the Sambal Goreng then fry until light golden season with salt and let cool: Mix the duck sauce with roasted grated coconut and then add Sambal Goreng: Mix all ingredients very gently and then add vegetables, add Bali lime and salt to taste garnish with friend shallot.

Chef Ketut Wijaya pic by Mark Ulyseas

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Vegetable and Tofu Curry

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Pic by Mark Ulyseas

Ingredients

Oil 2tbsp
Onion diagonal 10gr
Lemon grass (memarkn) 1pce
Daun salam (salamket) 2pcs
Leek diagonal slice 1pce
Curry powder madras 453gr 1tsp
Curry paste/bumbu kare 1tbsp
Stock chicken 200ml
Tofu, cube 125gr
Artichokes can 400 gr 25gr
Broccoli, spring 50gr
Cauliflower, spring 50gr
Green bean baby 50gr
Carrot 50gr
Corn baby 40gr
Coconut milk/Kara 200gr 15gr
Ground peanut 1tbsp
Salt 1/2tsp
Pepper black 1/2tsp
Yellow rice 200gr 

 

Method

Sauté with oil onion, lemon grass, salam leaf & curry paste until aromatic. Simmer with chicken stock the tofu, leek, corn, and other vegetable until half cooked. Add curry powder, coconut milk, ground pepper and stir together. I know that this is not really a vegetarian dish as chicken stock is being used. You can experiment with your very own desi stock.

Chef Ketut Wijaya pic by Mark Ulyseas

 

Balinese Duck Curry – Bebek Gerang Asem

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Pic by Mark Ulyseas

Ingredients :

4 pcs cleaned duck leg divided into 2 part. Marinated with salt merica and limewater.
1 litre chicken stock
80 gr Shallot
50 gr. Garlic
50 gr Red Chilli
50 gr Candle Nut
25 gr Ginger
4 cm Galangal
20 gr Lesser Galangal
15 gr Turmeric
4 pcs Lemongrass
4 pcs Daun Salam
15 gr coriander
5 gr nutmeg
7 gr Tabiabun (local black pepper), chopped
7 gr White pepper corn, ground
10 gr shrimp
Salt and Palm sugar
2 tbs Coconut oil for fry
 

Method:

Prepare a hot pan. Cook the duck in the pan without oil. Keep cooking until duck fat renders out and the duck is well browned: Cut & pound all spice ingredients until paste is formed: fry all the spice until fragrant in a little oil, then put in the duck: Add chicken stock and cook until duck is tender: Season to taste.

Chef Gary Tyson and his team pic by Mark Ulyseas

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

The Grand Central of Cultures

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MarkulyseasImagine there’s no country
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

–    John Lennon, Imagine

This is about the expat community in Bali – The world within worlds that segregates the lotus eaters from a reality that most islanders have to deal with on a daily basis – navigating through the potpourri of cultures. Many naive expats have to tread the minefield of religion, rituals and social customs that is so far removed from their own that coherency in everyday life is often achieved by hitching up with an Indonesian in matrimony. The conjugal connection sometimes results in the birth of a Mom & Pop business that incorporates a new found sensitivity and belonging to the adopted country.

I dedicate this month’s column to these wonderful folk who make Bali the Grand Central of Cultures.

A few weeks back as I sat in a restaurant fiddling with my laptop keyboard trying to get the keys unstuck after a nubile nymphet had dropped wine on it, I was offered a glass of Grappa by a man who spoke with a thick Italian accent. It’s amazing how liquor bridges all gaps between cultures. He was Roberto, an Italian living in Bali and married to Niken, a gorgeous lady from Java.

“Salúte”, I said raising my glass.

“Salúte”, exclaimed Roberto, “We must look into each other’s eyes when we toast otherwise you get seven years of bad sex”.

“It has been so long, what’s another seven years”, I replied jokingly, “Are you Italian?”

“Yes. My hometown is Laives. It is in the shadow of the Alps. But it’s not really Italian. There’s a curious mix of Italians and Austrians. After the Great War the borders were shifted and part of Austria was added to Italy. There are Italian and German speaking people with two different cultures living side by side. As a child growing up with this weird mix of people I learnt a lot and this has helped me in living with alien cultures. Even our food and clothes are different. It’s like no other place in my country. We Italians are very gregarious, loud and with large families, while the Austrians are a bit formal in all the leather that they wear. I grew up speaking three languages – Italian, German and English. Now, I also speak Bahasa. And what about you my friend?”

I avoided the question and reached for the bottle of Grappa and poured another drink. For the edification of all those Philistines among us, Grappa is an Italian brandy distilled from the remains of grapes after they have been pressed for wine making.

“So how long have you been living in Bali?” I asked.

“Around 14 years. Actually I have never planned to come to Bali. Many years ago when I returned to my hometown after a trip to Madagascar some friends approached me and asked me to join them on a holiday to Bali. As one of them had backed out at the last moment, I took his place. It was accident that I arrived here. But it was a fortunate twist of faith. Bali captured my senses and Niken, a beautiful girl from Jogyakarta stole my heart. I married her,” he replied.

Roberto told me how he and his wife had started the restaurant (in which we were sitting) with the idea of offering delicacies from his home country, Italy. Since its inception eleven years ago the outlet has become popular with locals and tourists alike for its range of pizzas, pastas, freshly baked breads and a delicatessen that sells a wide range of cold cuts, cheese, organic produce etc. In fact every Saturday the couple let out part of the restaurant for half a day free of cost to the organizers of the Organic Farmers’ Market to hold their weekly sale of fresh farm produce.

“Do you see any noticeable difference between the eating habits of Italians and Indonesians?” I asked.

“For us (Italians) meals are a celebration in which the whole family takes part. But the local people here eat alone with no fixed time for meals; it is like they are just putting food in their mouth impassively,” he said.

“And what about the women, what’s your take on their contribution to the family?”

“The Indonesian woman knows her place in the family and society. She is instilled with family values. I think this is called Mengabdi. Whereas, the Italian woman has lost it, probably that’s why men from my country look for young brides from the East European Countries,” he replied.

“Do you think religion is a barrier between you and your wife?”

“No, because we are both Catholic. However, after staying in this country for so long I do believe that religion creates divisions between peoples and cultures.”

“Why so?” I asked

“Because if we do not belong to the majority religion we are looked on as outsiders even though we may be part of the community. I do not mean to be critical or disrespectful but this is a fact of life all over the world and I accept it in all humility.”

“Why have you settled in Ubud, Roberto”.

“Please let me answer that”, said Niken as she sat down at our table, “we like the people and more importantly the harmonious culture of creativity that thrives here”.

“Niken, do you think your husband has understood your culture?” I asked

“No, not completely and probably he never will in this lifetime. But then one can absorb another’s culture only when one is a child because the culture adopts the child. Also, why should Roberto adopt my culture? He has brought his own to share with us by way of Italian cuisine,” she replied.

“What about social communication? Is there any similarity?”

“No. Unfortunately I have learnt this the hard way. My husband is a true Italian for he tells people exactly what he thinks to their face, whereas we do it in a roundabout manner so as not to appear insulting. You’re Indian, you know what I mean?”

Just then Vivian, their seven year old daughter walked up to our table and said a few words in Bahasa to her mother. She then turned to her father spoke in Italian to him and ran off with her friends shouting syllables of a language I couldn’t comprehend.

“Niken, what language is your daughter speaking?” I asked

“Balinese. She has picked up a number of words from her friends”.

Roberto poured another round of Grappa for us. We toasted to Bali, to the world and to life.

This is Bali, I thought to myself, in all its glory – a confluence of cultures coming together to make a wholesome picture of all that is good and inspiring.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Bobby Chinn – Hanoi’s enfant terrible of culinary gymnastics

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Exclusive interview with Mark Ulyseas.

On Thursday 24, 2008, at the Intercontinental Bali Resort, Celebrity Chef Bobby Chinn, the swashbuckling host of World Café Asia, Discovery Travel & Living Channel, author of the cookbook ‘Wild, Wild East, Recipes and Stories from Vietnam and owner of the famous Bobby Chinn Restaurant in Hanoi –gave us a Kitchen demo and press luncheon hosted by the hotel.

With verbal antics and culinary gymnastics he introduced us to his world in the kitchen – the devil’s kitchen. Bobby demonstrated how to dissect a crab and prepare his famous tamarind glazed crab cakes; and Bun bo wagyu beef with rice noodles and salad. According to Bobby, Bun bo wagyu beef comes from the most pampered living creature on this planet – the cow that lives in Japan which is fed partly on beer and is given daily massages by hand!

The luncheon menu was; grapes wrapped in goat’s cheese with a pistachio crust; Bobby’s famous tamarind glazed crab cakes; Bun bo wagyu beef with rice noodles and salad; And for dessert, coconut crème brulee. Of course, it goes without saying, each course was accompanied by fine wine.

After the gourmet meal I retired with Bobby to the lush green lawns of the hotel to chat about his life and work.

Interviewing Bobby is like trying to communicate with someone who has a thousand volts of electricity going through him. He is a high voltage wire without insulation. So here goes.

Could you share with the readers of The Bali Times a glimpse of your background?

Well I am New Zealand born, studied in an English Boarding School, did my BA in Finance and Economics, worked on the New York Stock Exchange got disillusioned with the work and followed my passion for cooking by training under the guru chef Hubert Heller of Fleur De Lys. I did my apprenticeship in Bordeaux and Paris. To make ends meet I worked as a runner, busboy and steward in various restaurants. Actually my first work experience was in the kitchen of Elka, a Franco-Japanese restaurant in San Francisco.

So where does this passion for food come from?

Both my grandmothers – one who is Chinese (Buddhist) and the other Egyptian (Muslim). My preferred food when I was homesick in school was; Moukh – deep-fried goats’ brains that is creamy inside with a crispy outer texture served in a sandwich. And the other favourites were and still are – Chicken Tikka Masala, Falafel and other Arabic food and Mexican food. I am enchanted by all kinds of cuisine. In the foods of the world I see reflected a people’s culture, age-old traditions and more importantly love. Probably that is why the cooking of my grandmothers captivated me.

How would you describe yourself as a cook?

I am not that kind of cook who says, ‘Let’s create something new everyday’. My cooking is based on need and necessity. I am an artist in my own right. I get to paint the masterpiece while others have to repeat it everyday. (Laughs). Food for me is a tool. I remove myself from the emotional impact like cleaning a live crab. I was a vegetarian from 1982 to 1994 and stopped when I became a chef. Maybe in the distant future I will become a vegetarian again.

So have you learnt everything you wanted to know as a chef?

Impossible. No one can say they have reached a point where they don’t need to learn anymore. For me I have reached a level in my work where no one wants to teach me. I find it difficult to get other well-known chefs to share their knowledge. So I have to get creative and draw on my experience eating street food, food cooked for me when I visit people’s homes for a meal etc.

Tell us what you have been doing in Vietnam?

I have been living and working in Hanoi for twelve years. After much travel I ended up in Vietnam and was instantly smitten by the wealth of culinary ingredients, applications, combinations and most importantly street food. I worked in a number of popular restaurants. Finally some years ago I started a restaurant, as I wanted to present my own eclectic cutting edge concoctions of food and drink. Read my book Wild, Wild East – recipes and Stories from Vietnam it tells all about the truly fascinating life that awaits all who arrive on its shores.

What was your first experience in Bali?

Some years ago when hosting my maiden program World Café Asia in Bali, everything went wrong in the sense that I was not used to being ‘directed’ and needed to walk and talk naturally. But the following programs panned out well once we all got into the rhythm.

What do you look forward to when you arrive in Bali?

Eating Betutu Bebek and satay and the sixty-minute Balinese massage that are unparalleled anywhere in the world, more importantly the Balinese who are experts in the hospitality field. I come here to relax and go back tired (laughs).

Any suggestions for the readers?

Yes buy my book from any Periplus bookshop. On page 160 is the recipe for my signature dish Tamarind-Glazed Crab Cake with Chive Flowers. Go for it, try making it yourself and if you stumble and mess it up, try again and again till you get it right, that is, if you are an aspiring chef. Otherwise give me a call and I’ll drop by to cook it for you in return for a first class air ticket and stay at one of the luxurious suites at the Intercon (Laughs).

Selamat Makan – Enjoy your meal

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Just the other day a friend called to ask me if I could write a short piece on Indonesian cuisine. I agreed little realising what I was getting myself into. The experience of discovering Bali and Indonesia as a whole was a daunting task. The thousands of islands spanning the archipelago are impossible to navigate and explore within the short time that I had. So to cut a long story short, here I am in Bali wandering the streets and visiting all the restaurants and hotels to partake of the delectable pleasures that this predominantly Hindu island has to offer.

This short sojourn through the culinary labyrinth of Indonesian cuisine is like a cursory glance through the kaleidoscope of mouth-watering delicacies.

It’s six o’clock in the morning. The light overnight drizzle has freshened the lush greenery at Amandari, which is awash in the soft golden rays of the morning sun. It a boutique hotel set within Ubud’s Kedewatan village, high above the River gorge. Amandari reflects Bali’s peaceful spirit and the cycles of its ritual expression. Liv Gussin, General Manager, and Gary Tyson, the Executive Chef greet me with warm scones and piping hot Bali coffee at the hotel’s café overlooking their famous infinity swimming pool. Liv is part Indian and Gary a whiz from Oz.

They take me to the local market in Ubud to educate me on the many exotic ingredients that are used in the variations Indonesian cooking. To understand the eating habits of the Balinese is quite an easy task. The daily food of a Balinese represents the simplicity of their way of life. Yet the drama of presentation and the permutations and combinations add spice to the monotony. Some of the dishes that I sampled are: Nasi Campur (mixed rice), Nasi Goreng (Fried rice), Mie Goreng(Fried noodles), Laksa Ayam (Chicken curry), Gado Gado (Vegetables with peanut sauce), Curry Yam (Chicken curry),Satay Ayam (Chicken satay), Satay Babi (Pork satay), Satay Paser (Fish satay), Babi Guling (Suckling pig), Betutu (Smoked Duck) the list is endless and for brevity and coherence I will stop here!

The daily meals are breakfast (Makan Pagi), lunch (Makan Siang) and dinner (Makan Malan).

The staple diet for Makan Pagi is Nasi Campur (Mixed Rice). This dish consists of rice, stir fried chicken, other meats, string beans in coconut or some vegetable with Sambal (sauce). Sambal is made from red chillies, shallots and garlic. But Nasi Campur differs from place to place and even restaurant-to-restaurant. This is what makes the Balinese cuisine so exciting.

For the diehard vegetarians there are numerous preparations of vegetables, Sagu (seaweed jelly), Tahu (tofu), Tempe (soya bean cake), rice in unimaginable colours, shapes, sizes and flavours, and some fruits like Avocadoes, Bananas, Mangoes, Papaya, Snake fruit, Oranges, Strawberries, Grapes, Nangka (jackfruit) and Durian.

Food is a religious obligation and social celebration that is a continuous affair. Balinese treat food with great respect. It is offered to the Gods prior to eating. During the festival of Kuningan, the Babi Guling has pride of place on the table. Babi Guling is stuffed suckling pig. And it has to be specially ordered a few days prior to the festival as demand exceeds supply. The feast commences with a traditional soup called Ares which has a base of young banana stems called Kepok. It is the Balinese version of something like French onion soup. This is followed up by smoked duck or as it is called Betutu. Smoked duck has an aroma that captures the senses and engulfs the diner with the fragrances of spices. The variety of dishes from prawns, fish, pork, chicken, lamb curry, Tempe, Tahu (tofu), salads could be sliced vegetables with Tahu or a fantastic mix of seafood, pork or chicken.

A short list of must eat delicacies from the island paradise.

Nasi Campur – Balinese chicken satay, corn fritters, coconut vegetables and steamed rice.

Nasi Goreng – Fried rice with seasonal vegetables with either chicken or pork.

Mie Goreng – Fried noodles with seasonal vegetables with either chicken or pork.

Laksa Ayam – With Indonesian spices, glass noodles, bean sprouts and fresh herbs.

Gado Gado – Indonesian salad topped with a spicy peanut sauce and tempe.

Curry Yam – Balinese yellow rice with chicken curry.

Satay Ayam – Chicken satay served peanut sauce and sautéed beans in grated coconut.

Satay Babi – Pork satay with peanut sauce and sautéed beans in grated coconut.

Satay Paser – Fish satay with sambal sauce and sautéed beans in grated coconut.

Babi Guling – Suckling pig with sambal sauce and Lawar (sautéed beans and jackfruit with grated coconut).

Betutu – Smoked Duck with sambal and sautéed beans in grated coconut.

Ayam Kalasan – Grilled chicken, marinated in roasted tomato, sweet chilli and kaffir lime with fragrant rice and coconut vegetables.

There is an entire food range that I have not covered like Padang food from Sumatra, which I promise to cover in the next article and this time I will be escorted by the legend of Ubud, Janet de Neefe who runs the world famous Casa Luna Cooking School.

Before I sign off I want to share with you the concept of extreme eating. Probably you may have heard Antony Bourdain talking about or most likely demonstrating how to eat poisonous sea creatures! Anyways, a mate of mine down at Kuta beach went for one of these eating experiences. I will be going next week. Will catch up then with my satay sticks in hand ready to beat on the Warung tables to the tune of sizzling Babi Guling!

Enjoy the spread I have just laid out for you. Enjoy the wonder that is Indonesia.

Terima kasi telah menikmati makananya

(Thank you and hope you enjoyed your meal!)