A-Z Cuisine: Indonesian

Picture of the Day 10: home-made Klepon (rice and coconut dumpling)

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Today’s picture comes with a cooking lesson, from the Skull and Dog school of “Cooking is Synonymous with Drinking”. In the manner of Alastair Humphries, I will attempt to complete an A-Z of cuisine. As anticipated, the greatest challenge of this is finding the appropriate restaurants in our area. Let’s see… we have Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai and… Irish.

Well, rather than bow down to Irish or Indian, I gave Ryan an alphabetical list of countries and told him to pick one. We’d make our own cuisine! He picked Armenia. A little research revealed we a) had none of the ingredients, and b) Bathurst stocked none of the ingredients. Ouch. Okay, so re-roll, and we came up with Indonesia. Indonesia is known for its tasty meat dishes and generous use of spices, coconut and fresh fruit. The website http://www.belindo.com/indonesia/indonesian-recipes has a few recipes, all of which appear delicious. Yet the true test of deliciousness is in the tasting, and so with grocery list in hand, we set out to the shops. Just a heads up, if you don’t want to read the ingredients, skip down to the next picture.

For this particular cuisine spelunking experience, I chose recipes we could make in one afternoon, with ingredients which wouldn’t blow our food budget. They were babi pangagang (roast pork) and klepon, with fruit, white rice and green tea. My shopping list:

Ginger (what state was not specified)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Laos powder (made from galangal/ blue ginger)
Kecap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce)
500g (1lb) pork tenderloin
1/2 white cabbage
Glutinous rice flour
Green food colouring or pandan paste if available
Coconut sugar/ palm sugar/ Java dark brown sugar
Grated coconut
Green tea leaves
Canned fruit

Easy! The garlic powder, onion powder, food colouring and tea were things we should have had anyway. We couldn’t buy glutinous rice flour at Woolworths (may be subject to availability) but I stopped by Coles on the way home and found it easily enough. Outside major cities here you may probably won’t get more than the one brand of glutinous rice flour. Be aware that it is much finer grain and quite different to rice flour, and if you’re looking for it keep an eye out for the green and white packaging. We also couldn’t buy white cabbage, so we got half a green cabbage and I entirely forgot to use it anyway. ^_^;

Right! Now the fun starts. First, get rid of your partner. Next, cut the pork into thin slices. Heap them into a plastic container with a lid and then add the 2 teaspoons of ginger (I used one, wasn’t even mildly spicy), 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Laos powder (I couldn’t find it and used none), 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 tablespoon kecap manis, and salt. Mix that all around in there and leave it to sit in the fridge while you have an awesome bike ride around the BMX track. Be careful of that brown snake slithering across your path at the park, and if you’re good enough stay back and warn the family behind you where the snake is.

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Nicely marinated. Okay, now while you let the pork marinate off the top of the container you were foolish enough to tip upside-down, let’s move onto the klepon. First, mix up 1 1/2 cups of glutinous rice flour with 3/4 cup of lukewarm water and a bit of green food colouring. Can’t find a measuring cup so use housemate’s ironing cup. Wash it out beforehand, I don’t know what’s been in there. Can’t figure out off the top of my head what 3/4 of a 250mL is so bluff the amount of water. Looks something like this:

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Once that mixture is in a firm, flexible dough, peel off a teaspoon of it and form it into a ball. Realise that the mixture is not nearly firm enough and add more flour. Remember that balls are going to have filling, so mix up 8 tablespoons of coconut sugar/ dark brown sugar (I used the latter mixed with shredded coconut) in a bowl.

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Attempt #2 with rolling the dough.

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Make a hole in it with your finger.

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Take a half teaspoon of your sugar mixture and stuff it into the hole in the ball. Realise that gauging how much half a teaspoon actually is without a teaspoon is a skill possessed only by mothers, much like folding fitted sheets and flipping pancakes.

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Er. Now reseal the dough.

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Roll it back into a ball. This too is a skill requiring delicacy and possibly round palms.

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Continue bluffing your way through making dough balls until all the mixture is gone. Ignore that frankly munted specimen on the far left. This is what happens when you can’t measure 3/4 cup water with any degree of accuracy.2012-12-17 18.45.41

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Great work! Once you have a tray full of green balls, treat yourself to a drink.2012-12-17 18.47.54

Now, feed all the leftover sugar to your partner. Be sure not to tell them what’s in it beforehand.

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“Mmm! Scrumptious!”
Set the balls aside for the moment, take a good sized saucepan, half fill it with water, and set it on the stove. Now take a small tray and load it with shredded coconut, mixed with half a teaspoon of salt. At this point we have stopped using teaspoons or indeed any other equipment to measure things by and so please just go with whatever feels right.

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It will probably look like this, unless you use a cup to measure a cup of shredded coconut, in which case you will have more coconut in your tray and not need to frantically add more later. Forget that. You’re doing well. Have another drink.

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Now, I hope you preheated the oven to 220 C (430 F), because time is running short. Grab your rice cooker out of the cupboard, unplug the microwave and wash yourself three cups of rice. Never mind that that’s too much for two people. Put the rice on to cook and for real this time, preheat the oven. You’ve got a couple of minutes while the saucepans boils, so have a look around and realise your computer is covered in fine powder. Is it cocaine? But you don’t do cocaine. Scrub the powder hastily to the floor and do a likewise sloppy job of cleaning the bench. Feel bad and get the broom, and sweep all the grit on the floor into the corner near the bin. Promise to vacuum tomorrow. Immediately forget promise.

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So you know how you have one tray full of green balls and another full of coconut? Guess what. That’s all your trays. You can’t put the pork in the oven until you have a free tray. Take advantage of the boiling saucepan to start throwing green balls into the water.

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When they float, pick them out with your fingers – don’t do that. Tongs work nicely. Roll them in the coconut/ salt mix and then set them in a bowl.

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Don’t use that munted one though. It’s an embarrassment.

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Pretty quickly, you’ll have a bowlful of hairy green balls. Mature, yes.

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Right, now rip that piece of foil off your tray and put another piece on it. Fetch that marinating pork from the fridge and lay it out on the tray. Be aware that the recipe said this much pork would feed four people. Have serious doubts. Go ahead with it anyway.

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Now you have some time. Do the washing up.

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Ready the green tea and the fruit salad.

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Have another drink.

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Stumble up the hallway into the bedroom.

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Pass out.

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Rouse yourself in time to set the tea table. Doesn’t it look pretty? Everything is coming together at once now and your partner better get his ass out here.

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The rice is done! Everything is done! Take two plates and let it occur to you that you have absolutely no sense of composition when it comes to arranging food.

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Uh. Yep. Tell yourself it’s all right, there’s more vermouth if you need it, and do your best to make dinner look like a rack of ribs.

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Serve! What do you think, Ryan?

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And that was our I for Indonesian. We were so full we barely touched the klepons, though they were very nice, sweet and soft. The pork was moist and tasty. The green tea was slightly bitter as I tipped water too close to the boil over the leaves, but it provided a nice balance of tastes to the meal. Ryan gave it 8 out of 10, would eat again.


About Anneque Machelle

Anneque Machelle finds the best in indie sci-fi - so you don't have to. Her background in biology, engineering and fiction writing give her a Geiger counter to find the most radioactive underground hits this side of Pripyat.
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