Malaysia shares many similarities with Indonesia in culture, religion, language and customs. After all a large part of the present day South East Asia was once simply known as Nusantara where seafaring tribes exchanged cultures and ideas throughout the once "border- less" archipelago.
After more than 500 posts, I think it is about time for me to explore the cuisine that is so similar but yet so foreign to many of us.
My first Indonesian dish brings us to Bali - the island paradise that has given us one of the best pork dishes in the world - babi guling or spit roasted suckling pig. To replicate that at home is almost impossible so I decided to go for another wonderful pork dish that reminds me of my wonderful time over there.
recipe adapted from Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey
serves 4 as an Indonesian meal
Be warned! The melt in your mouth tender pieces of pork and the fragrant and complex sauce will have you coming back for a second serve. Use beef instead if your are not a pork eater. For a similar Malaysian dish using chicken, please check out my ayam masak kecap (Malay soya sauce chicken)
10 shallots, sliced
1 head of garlic, crushed
6 cm piece of ginger, chopped
10 bird chillies, chopped
3 long red chillies, chopped
1.5 kg of pork neck, cut into large chunks
1/3 cup of kecap manis
4 tbs of dark soy
2 tbs of light soy
1/4 cup of tamarind concentrate
black pepper to taste
1.5 cups of stock
6 whole bird chillies
crispy fried shallots
chopped chillies to garnish
* available at all good Asian grocer, look for ABC brand from Indonesia. You may also come across ketjap manis
(old spelling) from Holland which is a lot pricier.
Prepare the aromatics. Do adjust the amount of chillies according to your taste.
Prepare the tamarind concentrate and cut the pork into large chunks.
Prepare the fried shallots for garnish. Shop bought is fine but it is worth the trouble of making your own.
Saute aromatics with some of the oil for frying the crispy shallots until they turn a light golden.
Add pork and mix well, cook on high heat for about 5 minutes.
Add seasonings and stock together with the whole chillies if using. Bring it to a boil then turn it down to a simmer with the lid on for 1.5 hours.
Remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking for the sauce to thicken. The pork will melt in your mouth after the slow and long cooking. The delicious and extremely fragrant sauce that is sweet, sour and savoury will cry out for more rice, so be prepared!
Garnish with fried shallots and some extra chopped chillies and serve as part of an Indonesian meal.
Serve with plenty of rice and a simple stir fried vegetable of your choice.