lemongrass rice and grilled beef


There was fresh lemongrass at the farmer’s market again! This time I used it to flavor a batch of rice cooked with coconut milk and daun salam (recipe from Cradle of Flavor, very easy). I just tied the lemongrass into knots, combined it with washed basmati rice, a handful of dried daun salam (Indian bay) leaves, coconut milk, salt and water, brought it all to a boil and steamed it for 15 minutes, then let it sit while we did other things. Just before we ate I fished out all the aromatics and fluffed up the rice – it was dry, sweet and a little chewy. J thought it smelled a bit like Froot Loops, which I can’t say is a real recommendation, but there you go. It was tasty.

knotted lemongrass
making rice

To go with the rice, J made some grilled beef skewers Continue reading

Padang fish curry

curried flounder with yams

In further pursuit of soft foods I can eat after my oral surgery last week, I’ve been going through cookbooks and looking for recipes that use white fish – I figure it’s one of the few animal proteins that doesn’t require much chewing. I’ve also been getting bored, so I thought a curry might be nice, as long as it didn’t have too many chunks in it. What I ended up with was the Padang fish curry, a sweet and slightly spicy coconut milk dish, from Cradle of Flavor. Thank goodness, it was actually like eating real food again!

Padang fish curry for two

adapted from Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland

flavoring paste:

  • 2 oz shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 unsalted macadamia nuts

for the curry:

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (ideally), tied into a knot
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 daun salam leaf (if you have it)
  • 10 oz coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • kosher salt
  • two serrano chiles, tops cut off
  • 2/3 lb white fish Continue reading

Indonesian pork & greens

spices for braised nyonya pork

I do lots of the cooking in our house, and I like it that way, but still – I love it when J cooks. Not only does it mean I can sit around with a drink and watch someone else work – always enjoyable – but he often tackles recipes that are a lot more complex than I usually feel like dealing with. He loves measuring spices for Indian curries, is a great baker, and doesn’t mind following long detailed directions. I tend to look at this sort of recipe, think “what’s all this nitpicking detail for?” and ignore half of it. He doesn’t, with the obvious result that a lot of his cooking tastes more complex and authentic than mine. Not that he complains much about my cooking 🙂

So on Sunday when I was at work, he undertook to make a couple recipes out of James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor. I loved this book when I bought it so much that I actually sat on the couch and read it cover to cover, it was so evocative of the sights, smells and tastes of Indonesia. We made a special trip to Uwajimaya (a 100-mile round trip) to stock up on every single weird-sounding ingredient: pandan leaf, sweet soybean paste, fermented shrimp paste, galangal, water spinach, fresh turmeric, et al. It was great. But lately we haven’t been cooking out of it, and when we were in Uwajimaya again on Saturday the water spinach looked good, so …

Stir-Fried Nyonya-style Water Spinach

from Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland

water spinach stems Continue reading