My first thought was,
“These open-toed Birkenstocks were not the right choice of footwear for this afternoon walk in the jungle.”
While my eyes were quick to track the mosquitoes swarming me, the eyes of the Dayak minas leading me were quick to track something else.
I squinted my eyes. “Dimana?”
They pointed and I spotted a menacing vine covered with thorns suspended mid-air between trees.
How the first Dayaks came to see this plant — the same source of material for outdoor furniture and handicrafts — as edible is beyond me.
Continue reading “Recipe | Juhu Singkah ft. Kalimantan Tengah”
Asians and cheese do not pair well.
While conducting research and development at Room4Dessert in Bali for a new dessert menu, I aged a wheel of camembert with house-made amaretto distilled from salak seeds.
The office above the kitchen was the only space to store my project in a “cave-like” temperature, since this was the only room with an air-conditioner.
The camembert ripened quickly. The rind developed a light-orange tint and the interior was fast approaching a liquid state. And the smell.
Being raised in a Western country helped me develop a palate and nose that didn’t discriminate against barnyard ripeness, so every time I opened the box, I inhaled deeply and began to long for cheeses I could never find in Indonesia.
My staff, on the other hand, did not have as much of a mature reaction.
The moment the door swung open, sleepy eyes from the previous night’s service would widen in shock once their olfactory senses were alert to the smell. Hands to nose in less than a second. A muffled scream in less than three. I could have timed it with a stopwatch.
Needless to say, the office — usually a traffic jam of bodies and movement — was undisturbed when I was working with cheese.
So when I heard there was a village in South Sulawesi voluntarily making cheese, and had been for generations, I had to see for myself.
Continue reading “Recipe | Dangke ft. South Sulawesi”
Harvested year-round and edible only when the tip of the shoot emerges above soil, it is not the most groundbreaking species to reveal from my travels in Sulawesi.
But after eating bamboo in East Asian dishes since I was a child, it took 34 years before I was able to experience harvesting a young shoot in the wild and cooking it within the hour.
Continue reading “Recipe | Sayur Buluh ft. North Sulawesi”
The first time I brought life into this world?
I was 10 years old.
For children in classrooms across America, it was a rite of passage to sprout a dried lima bean. Each child was provided a plastic ziplock bag, paper towel, lima bean and water. We were taught to “wake up” the bean by re-hydrating it in water, keep it moist with a damp paper towel, and “feed” it with sunlight. Once the foot of a root peeked out, I was a proud momma.
Taking an otherwise forgotten dried bean and coaxing it to life was my first realization that nature’s power was a gift to cherish.
20 years later, I was raising an army of sorghum seeds in the kitchen.
Continue reading “Recipe | Sprouted Sorghum Cake ft. Nusa Tenggara Timur”
Disclaimer: Chia seeds are not native to Indonesia.
Just as people migrate, so have plants and their seeds. With Mother Earth’s magic, many of these plants become naturalized—acclimate to their new environment—and transform into new species themselves.
Some of these “new” plants have been in Indonesia for centuries—for as long as traders have sailed in and around the seas of Indonesia.
As we enter into a new year in the 21st century, this migration continues, but this time with more purpose than a stowaway seed.
Continue reading “Recipe | Chia Seed Crackers ft. Sumatra & Nusa Tenggara Timur”