The Basics: If It’s Fried or Grilled, Sign Me Up
Tonight I made a poor choice. I decided to get some pizza for dinner from my local slightly upscale grocery store. It was terrible. Just awful. I ate some bad pizza in Ukraine, but this was so much worse. So, to recover, I thought it was time to share the basics of Indonesian food. Before leaving the States, I googled “Indonesian restaurants in NYC” and only a few places came up. I really didn’t know the first thing about Indonesian food before moving here and I think that most Americans fall into a similar boat.
First up: mie goreng, fried noodles. Goreng is the Indonesian word for fried and let’s just say Indonesians love lots of things goreng. Mie goreng is a delicious dish that usually comes with a sweet and somewhat spicy sauce on the noodles and a fried egg on top and some crispy onion or shallot bits. In fact, a lot of dishes come with fried eggs on top and crispy onion or shallot bits.
Second: nasi goreng, fried rice. Indonesian fried rice is different from other Asian fried rices. Not very much soy sauce, if any, is used and it is much heavier on the rice than any other ingredients. A hefty portion of fried rice or fried noodles on the street will set you back about Rp 8,000 which converts to 93 cents. Ah, eating for less than a dollar – I am truly treasuring it. And the good news, my body doesn’t have issues with MSG which is definitely used at some places.
Third: sate. Chicken sate, beef sate, any kind of sate anytime of day. Sate is absolutely delicious. Meat skewered and grilled is always a good idea. Then dipping that meat into a peanut sauce is an even better idea. Below is actually chicken skin sate which was fatty and delicious. On a side note: I have eaten parts of animals I never had before. Recently I tried chicken feet, very boney.
Fourth: soto ayam. This is Indonesian chicken soup for the soul. Delicious broth, chicken, eggs, and vegetables topped with some kind of krupuk, a deep fried chip that has a seafood flavor a lot of the time, but can also just have a plain taste.
Fifth: pecel lele is deep fried catfish that comes with rice and some veggies usually. I like catfish a lot especially when it is cooked in a curry sauce. Catfish are actually raised a lot in the suburbs of Jakarta (in not the cleanest conditions, but I try not to think about that).
Ah, I am feeling much better – have almost forgotten my pizza experience. I am very excited for this Friday dinner. My friend Jourdan, also a Wesleyan grad (yes, we have a ridiculous community everywhere it seems) has invited me to his home for iftar – the meal that breaks fasting during Ramadan. He has promised me that there will be rendang, an amazing stewed beef dish. More to come. Happy eating to everyone, wherever you may find yourself these days.