My first full day in Ubud and I'd arranged to do a Balinese cooking course at Paon Bali Cooking Class (recipe for fusion Gado Gado salad below).
The day started quite early with an 8:30AM visit to the Central Market in Ubud. We were shown the different local fruit and vegetables - many of which were already familiar from the various market visits I have been on in the previous cooking classes in Cambodia and Vietnam. I tried mangosteens for the first time - deeeelicious!
We were driven to the village of Lalapang and taken to the local rice fields where Wayan, the owner of the cooking school, explained the importance of rice in Bali and the lifecycle. The view of the emerald green, terraced rice paddies was beautiful.
We were then driven a short distance away to the family compound where we were offered welcome drinks and some Balinese family customs and traditions were explained. For example, Balinese culture is extremely hierarchical (similar to the caste system in India), and the grandparents rule like kings over the family kingdom. It was quite fascinating to hear how the houses are situated and who may or may not reside within the 2 main buildings.
We helped prepare dishes together in an open-air kitchen overlooking a river gorge and a forest. The setting was very relaxing and the food was fresh. It was quite a social group and we loved our hostess with the mostest. She had the funniest sayings and always a joke and a smile - don't know how she does it day in and day out! We ended up preparing several dishes, the most memorable of which were the Sate Lili Ayam (aka minced chicken kebabs), Pepes Ikan (fish in banana leaves) and Gado Gado salad.
After lunch, back to Ubud and time for a bit of shopping before heading out for dinner and drinks with new friends: Julia, an artist from Devon, who was staying at Argosoka Bungalows and Ben, just about the funniest Iranian man I have ever met, from the cooking class. Ben showed us around town and took us to a Warung where food was cheap and the service slow (yet friendly).
If all this talk of food has made you hungry and you wanna make your own Indonesian food, try out the recipe below: easy and delicious!
FUSION GADO GADO SALAD (this is a variation on the 1 we did in class - I have "westernised" it a bit). Feeds 4-6.
1 cup shredded cabbage (can be red or normal or combination of both for added colour)
1 small lettuce (chopped)
1 cup string beans (cut into 3-4cm lengths)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 small cucumber
1 packet hard tofu (or Tempeh if you can get it!)
3 tablespoons coconut oil for frying (or peanut oil or any other vegetable oil)
1 1/2 cups fried peanut with their skins (you could roast them for a lower fat version)
1 thumb-sized piece of lesser galangal
2 macadamia nuts
2 cloves garlic
1 hot chilli
1/2 a medium tomato
5 tablespoons Indonesian sweet soy sauce (Kecap Manis)
1 or 2 limes
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
To make the sauce:
First slice the chilli and remove the seeds. Blend the peanuts, garlic, macadamia nuts, lesser galangal, chilli and tomato in a blender until they form a fine paste. Mix the paste with the half cup water on a low heat. Add the Kecap Manis and salt, and sequeeze the lime over the mixture. Stir thoroughly until mixed through.
For the veggies, boil the string beans for no more than 3 minutes so that they are tender but not soft. Cut the cucumber into thin slices. Cut the tofu (or tempeh) into thin cubes and fry in the oil until golden. To serve, mix the veggies and tofu together, place on a large dish and pour sauce over.