Cooking ingredients that mostly used in Indonesian cuisine. Imported from book The Food of Indonesia, by Heinz von Holzen & Lother Arsana
Many Indonesian ingredients are now widely available in asian supply shops and even supermarket abroad. Essensial ingredients are described or easy identification, and a range of substitutes suggested.
ANCHOVIES, DRIED (ikan teri): small salted dried anchovies are used to season some dishes. Available in most Chinese stores. Unless they are very tiny, anchovies are usually less than 2.5 cm (1inchi) long. Discard the heads any any black intestinal tract before frying.
BASIL (daun selasih, daun kemangi): Two varieties of this fragrant herb are found in Indonesia. They are generally added to dishes at the last minute for maximum flavour. daun kemangi has a lemony scent, while daun selasih (identical to Thai horopa) is more similar to sweet European basil, which can be used as a subtitute.
BEANCURD(Tahu): Beancurd, introduced by the Chinese, is now widely used in vegetable dishes and salad, providing inexpensive protein. Beancurd is sold in cakes about 8 cm (3 inches) square. This beancurd is sometimes compressed to expel much of the moisture forming hard beancurd cakes. Do not confuse regular beancurd with soft or ‘silken’ beancurd sold in many stores abroad; this is commonly used for Chinese soups and in Japanese cuisine.
CANDLENUT (Kemiri): A round, cream-coloured nut relating to the macadamia and Queensland bush nut, this has an oily consistency used to add texture and a faint flovour to many dishes. Store in the fridge as candlenuts turn rancid quickly. Subtitute with macadamia nuts, raw cashew or almond.
BILIMBI, SOUR (belimbing wuluh): This pale green acidic fruit about 5-8 cm (2-3 inchi) long, grows in clusters on a tree. A relative of the large, five-edged sweet starfruit, Bilimbi is used whole or sliced to give a sour tang to some soups, fish dishes and sambals. Sour grapefruit or tamarind juice can be used as subtitute.
CARDAMOM (kapulaga): About 8-12 intensely fragrant black seeds are enclosed in a straw-coloured, fibrous pod. Try to buy the whole pod rather than cardamom seeds or powder for maximum flavour, and bruise lightly with the back of the cleaver to break the pod before adding to food.
CELERY (seledri): The celery used in Indonesia is different from normal western variety, with slender stems and particularly pungent leaves. It is often refereed to as ‘Chinese celery’ abroad and is used as a herb rather than vegetable.
CHILLIES (Cabai, also called cabe or lombok): Several types of chilli pepper are used with the amount of heat increasing as the size diminishes. Green chillies are the unripe fruit, and have a flavour different from ripe red chillies. Fresh, finger-length red chillies are the most commonly used in some dishes, especially in Sumatra. Dried chillies should be torn into pieces and soaked in hot water to soften before grinding or blending. Hottest of all chillies are the tiny fiery bird’s-eye chillies (cabe rawit). To reduce the heat of the dish while retaining the flavour, remove some or all of the seeds. Be careful to wash your hands throughly after handling chillies as the oil can burn your eyes and skin. You may even like to wear rubber gloves.
CHIVES, COARSE (Kucai): Coarse chives, flat leaves about 30 cm (12 in) long, are used as a seasoning; although the flavour is more delicate, spring onions (scallions) can be used as a subtitute.
CLOVES (Cengkeh): This small, brown, nail shaped spice was once found only in the islands of Maluku. Cloves are used in cooking les frequently than one might expect, but add their characteristic fragrance to the clove scented cigarettes or kretek popular through out Indonesia.
COCONUT(Kelapa):Coconut are widely used in Indonesia, not just in cooking but also for plam sugar, alcohol, housing, utensils, and charcoal. The grated flesh of the coconut is frequently added to food; it is also squeezed with water to make coconut milk.
To make fresh coconut milk, put the flesh of 1 freshy grated ripe coconut into a bowl and add ½ cup of lukewarm water. Squeeze and knead the coconut thoroughly for 1 minute, then squeeze handful by handful, straining into a bowl to obtain thick coconut milk. Repeat the process with another 2 ½ cups of water to obtain thin coconut milk.
Coconut milk can be deep frozen, thaw and stir throughly before use. The best subtitute for fresh coconut milk to be used with vegetables, seafood, meat and for sauces is instant coconut powder, sometimes sold under the name ‘santan’. Combine this with warm water as directed on the packet. For the richer, cremier flavour required for dessert and cakes, use tinned coconut cream.
CORIANDER (ketumbar): Small straw coloured seeds with a faintly orange flavour, coriander is of the most commonly used spices in Indonesia, and is often used in conjuction with white pepper and cumin.
CUMIN (jinten): Together with coriander and pepper, this small beige elongated seed is one of the most commontly used spices in Indonesia. Take care not to confuse it with fennel.
FENNEL (jinten manis): This seed is simiar to cumin, although slightly fatter, whiter, and with a distinctive fragrance reminiscent of aniseed.
GALANGAL (laos): A member of the ginger family with a very tough but elusively scented rhizome which must be peeled before use. The best substitute is water-packed slices of galangal sold in jars, generally exported from Thailand. Otherwise, use slices of dried laos (soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes) or as last resort, powdered laos (1 teaspoon = 2 ½ cm/ in)
GARLIC (bawang putih): Recipes in this book were prepared with Indonesian garlic, the clovesof which are usually smaller and less pungent than the garlic found in many Western countries. Adjust the amount to suit your taste.
GINGER (jahe): This pale creamy yellow root is widely used, not just to season food but its medicinal properties (it helps digestion, expels intestinal gas, improves the appetite and is believed to be good for colds). Always scrape the skin off fresh ginger before using and do not substitute powdered ginger as the taste is quite different. Fresh ginger keeps in a cool place for several weeks.
JICAMA (bengkuang): Native to tropical America, where it is known as jimaca, the somewhat confusingly named yam bean is actually a tuber with a beige skin and crisp white interior. It is used in salads and some cooked vegetable dishes; water chesnuts make an acceptable subtitute. Many Indonesian ingredients are now widely available in Asian supply shops and even supermarkets abroad.
KENARI: A soft, somewhat oily nut found in Maluku, almond is the closest subtitute.
KLUWAK : Kluwak nuts come from the kepayang tree (Pangium edule) of Indonesia & Malaysia, a member of the flacourtia family (Flacourtiaceae). The oily, hard-shelled seeds superficially resemble Brazil nuts. Meaty seeds are edible after the poisonous hydrocyanic acid is removed by soaking and boiling them in water. Fermented kluwak nuts become chocolate-brown, greasy and very slippery. Cooked seeds are used in a number of popular Malaysian and Indonesian dishes.
KENCUR: Sometimes incorrectly known as lesser galangal, the botanical name of this ginger-like root is Kaemferia galanga. The correct english name, rarely encountered, is zedoary Kencur has a unique, camphor-like, flavour and should be used sparingly. Wash it and if you’re fussy (most Indonesians aren’t) scrape off the skin before using. Dried sliced kencur (sometimes spelled kentjoer) or kencur powder can be used as a subtitute. Soak dried slices in boiling water for 30 minutes; use ½ – 1 teaspoon of powder for 2.5 cm (1 in) fresh root.
KRUPUK: Dried crackers made from shrimps, fish, vegetables or nuts mixed with various types of flour are enormously popular as a garnish or snack. They must be thoroughly dry before deep frying in very hot oil for few seconds, so that puff up and become crisp.
LEMON GRASS (serai, sereh): This intensely fragrant herb is used to impart a lemony flavour to many dishes and can also be used as a skewer for stays. Cut off the roots and use only the tender bottom portion (16-20 cm / 6-8 in ). Discard the hard outer leaves. If a whole stem is added to a gravy during cooking, it should be bruised a couple of times with the edge of a cleaver or pestle to release the fragrance, then tied in a knot to hold it together.
LIME: Several types of lime are used in Indonesia. The most fragrant is the leprous or kaffir lime (jeruk purut). IT has virtually no juice bzt the double leaf is often used whole or very finely shradded, while the grated skin is occasionally used in cooking. Round yellow-skinned limes slightly larger than a golf ball (jeruk nipis) and small, dark green limes (jeruk limau) are used for their juice. If limes are not available, use lemons.
NOODLES (mi, mie): Introduced by the Chinesse and a firm favourite everywhere. The most common varieties are fresh spagetti-like yellow egg noodles (bami) and dried rice cermicelli (mihun). Transparent noodles made from mung pea flour (sohun), called either jelly or glass noodles in the West, are used in some soup and vegetables dishes for texture rather than flovour.
NUTMEG (pala): Always grate whole nutmeg just before using as the powdered spice quickly loses its fragrance. Whole nutmegs keep almost indefinately.
PALM SUGAR (gula merah, gula jawa): Juice extracted from coconut or aren palm flowers is boiled and packed into moulds to make sugar with a faint caramel taste. If palm sugar is not available, subtitute soft brown sugar, or a mixture of brown sugar and maple syrup.
To make palm sugar syrup, combine equal amounts of chopped palm sugar and water, adding pandan leaf if available. Bring to boil, simmer for 10 minutes, strain and store in refrigerator.
PANDAN LEAF (daun pandan): The fragrant leaf of a type of pandanus sometimes known as fragrant screwpine is tied in a knot and used to flavour some curries, desserts and cakes. Bottled pandan essence can be subtituted.
PEANUTS (kacang tanah): These are ground (either raw or cooked) and used to make sauces; deep fried peanuts are a very common garnish or condiment. DO not salt fried peanuts before storing to avoid their going soggy.
PEPPER (merica, lada): Whole black or white peppercorns are generally crushed just before use; ground white pepper powder is also used on certain occasions.
PRAWNS, DRIED (ebi): Used to season some dishes, these should be soak in warm water for 5 minutes before use and any shell discarded. Choose dried prawns that are bright pink in colour, avoiding any that look grey or mouldly.
SALAM LEAF (daun salam): A subtly flavoured leaf of a memeber of the cassia family. The flavour bears no resemblance whatsoever to that of bay leaves, which are sometimes suggested as a subtitute. If you cannot obtain dried salam leaf, omit altogether.
SALTED SOYA BEANS (tauco): Salty and with a distictive tang, this Chinesse ingredients is used to season some dishes and to make a savoury side-dish or sambal. Available in jars, sometimes labelled ‘Yellow Bean Sauce’.
SHALLOTS (bawang merah): Widely used throughout Indonesia, shallots are sliced and eaten raw in sambals; pounded to make spice pastes; sliced and added during cooking, or sliced and deep fried to make Indonesia’s most popular garnish. Packets of deep-fried shallots are generally available in Asian supply stores. If they lose their crispness, scatter in a large baking dish and put in a very low oven for a few moments to dry them throughly. Cool throughly before storing. Indonesian shallots are smaller and milder than those found in many Western countries.
SHRIMP PASTE, BLACK (petis): A very thick syrupy paste, usually sold in jars or plastic tubs, with a strong shrimp flavour, petis is used to season some sauces; perhaps best known as an ingredients in Rojak, a fruit and vegetable salad drenched with a hot, sour, faintly fishy sauce.
SHRIMP PASTE, DRIED (trasi): This very pungent seasoning oftem smells offensive to the ininitiated. It is always cooked before eating, which kills the smell and greatly improves the flavour. The best way to prepare shrimp paste is to spread the required amount on a piece of foil and to toast it under a grill or dry fry in a pan for about 2 minutes on each side. If you prefer to avoid the pungent smell during cooking, wrap in the edges of the foil before cooking. If the shrimp paste is to be fried with other paste ingredients, it does not need pre-cooking. Widely known overseas by its Indonesian name, trasi, or the Malay term , belacan, shrimp paste ranges in colour from purplish pink to beige to brownish black and is generally sold in a cake.
SOY SAUCE: Two types of soy sauce are used in Indonesia: thick sweet soy sauce (kecap manis), which is most frequently used as a condiment, usually with added sliced chillies, and the thinner, saltier light soy sauce (kecap asin). If you cannot obtain kecap manis, use thick black Chinese soy sauce and add vrown sugar to sweeten it.
SPRING ONION (daun bawang): Sometimes known as scallions or, in Australia , as shallots, this popular herb is often used as a garnish and to add flavour to many dishes.
STAR ANISE (bunga lawang): An 8-pointed star-shaped spice, dark brown in colour, with each point containing a shiny brown, round seed, this has a strong aniseed or licorice flavour.
TAMARIND (asem jawa): The pod of tamarind tree contains seeds covered by freshy pulp which adds fruity sourness to many dishes. Packets of dried tamarind pulp usually contain the seeds and fibres. To make tamarind juice, measure one part of pulp and soak it in 3 parts of hot water for 5 minutes before squeezing it to extract the juice, discarding the seeds, fibre and any skin.
TAPIOCA (ubi kayu): The root of this plant, also known as cassava, and the tender green leaves, are both used as a vegetable. The root is also grated and mixed with coconut and sugar to make a number of cakes. Fermented tapioca root is added to some dessert dishes, while the dried root is made into small balls and used in the same way as pearl sago. Subtitute spinach for tapioca leaves.
TEMPE: This javanesse creation, cakes of compressed, lightly fermented soya beans, is increasingly known to health enthusiasts internationally. It is rich in protein and has a delicious nutty flavour. Often available in health food stores. No subtitute.
TURMERIC (kunyit): A vivid yellow rhizome of the ginger family, this has a very emphatic flavour. Scrape the skin before using. If fresh turmeric is not available, subtitute 1 teaspoon of powdered turmeric for 2.5 cm (1 in) of the fresh root. The leaf of the turmeric plan is sometimes used as a herb, particularly in Sumatra. There is no subtitute.
WATER CANVOLVULUS (kangkung): Sometimes known as Morning Glory or Swamp Cabbage, this aquatic plant is full of nutrition and has an excellent flavour. Often steamed and used in many salads with a spicy sauce. The tender leaves and tips of the plant are used, and the tough hollow stems discarded. Available in most Chinese markets, often under the Cantonese name, ong choy.