When I started writing this blog, my workmate “Evie” loved the idea. Coming from Indonesia, Evie took it very personal and arranged with another colleague “Tima”; a feast in the city, to tell their Indonesian gastronomic story.
There was everything on the table, except street food! with Evie and Tima telling their culinary techniques over a rounded table; designed to cater many dishes, rolling through a spinner that allows food to travel from right to left – or better to say from Evie to Evie; as every time I tried to lay my hand on a plate, Evie – not deliberately I hope – would spin the table!
After few attempts of testing my patience, I managed to try some left overs: a bucket of steamed rice, garnishes of carrots (see evidence in photos), and an ox bone bathing in a nice hot broth.
Throughout its history, Indonesia has been involved in spice trade brought by ships from every country in the world, due to its strategic location. Famed as “the Spice Islands”, Indonesian Islands also contributed to the introduction of native spices, such as cloves and nutmeg, to Indonesian and global cuisine. Initially Inspired by India, the Middle East, and China; Indonesia’s cuisine has been particularly influenced by early Dutch and Portuguese colonists.
The local food scene relies heavily on street food, sold by vendors pushing their goods on bicycles or carts, known as Pedagang Kaki Lima or “street seller”. These food carts travel from one street to another in the search for busy streets, approaching potential buyers, announcing their presence through calling or singing; and stationing themselves to sell common street foods like Soto Ayam; comprised of broth and vegetables and chicken, accompanied by compressed rice, Satay; a popular delicacy consisting of slices of chunk spicy meat on bamboo skewers grilled over charcoal fire, and bakso; or meatball soup that is usually served in a bowl, with noodles, tofu, eggs, and/or fried meat.
In Australia, Indonesian street food is found mostly in food courts often combined with another Asian cuisine. The Indonesian feast that I mentioned above, took place at Delima Restaurant Shop 69 Level 5, 1 Dixon Street, recommended by Indonesians, with Satay Chicken priced at $12.00 and Soto Ayam for $14.00.
“Soto” soup was served on a royal table before reallocating to the street. It is believed that a King fell ill and asked for a healing soup, instead of boring porridge. In the kitchen, a chicken soup was prepared with rice grains added to it. The king couldn’t swallow the long rice grains and asked for smaller rice that can be softened by the hot broth, with extra spices to stimulate his taste buds. Back in the kitchen, the soup was adjusted and the king liked it so much that he requested it more frequently. “Suap ratu” or “fed to the king” soup was born and the name was eventually changed over time into soto.
The recipe is easy to make if you have a couple of hours to assemble it all together.
Cut a whole chicken into 4 pieces and place in a saucepan. Add 8 cups of water, 2 stalks of quartered lemongrass, 4 kaffirs of lime leaves, 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves, and 1tsp of salt.
Bring to the boil over medium heat. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked. Transfer the chicken into a plate and leave the broth to cool slightly.
Remove and discard the skin and bones. Shred the chicken. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.
Use a mortar and crush 3 French shallots and a cube of ginger and 4 gloves of garlic until a rough paste is formed. Add 1 1/2 tsp. of ground cumin, 1 1/2 tsp. ground of ground coriander and 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns. Pound until peppercorns is coarsely crushed. Stir in 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric.
Heat 2 tbsp. of rice bran oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the French shallot mixture, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add The broth and bring to boil over high heat. Simmer for few minutes and strain into a large bowl.
Cook 100g packet of bean thread vermicelli noodles as per packet directions. Drain. Divide among bowls. Top with the chicken and thinly sliced shallots. Divide the broth among the bowls. Top with 1 boiled egg each, garnish with bean sprouts and fresh coriander.
Too much left overs?
Evie will definitely take care of it.