Eggs are my go-to easy dishes. I love making hard-boiled eggs, and then further cook them in delicious sauces like this gulai telur Padang.
You can fry the hard-boiled eggs in hot oil first to create a blistered golden brown crust on the eggs. I usually skip this step, but the ones sold in Padang restaurants usually have this golden brown crust, so it is up to you if you want to or not.
Gulai Padang sauce
The sauce is simple, just need to gather the ingredients and make a spice paste with food processor or blender.
You will need lemongrass, shallot, garlic, bird eye chilies, candlenuts (or macadamia), ginger, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, daun salam, tumeric powder, and coconut milk.
If bird eye chilies are too spicy for your liking, feel free to use milder varieties, such as cayenne, or even Fresno. Just make sure to use red color chilies.
Daun salam is Indonesian bay leaves. The flavor is super different compared to regular bay leaves. So if you can’t find daun salam, the best option would be to simply omit them.
How to cook gulai telur Padang?
First, sauté spice paste and all seasoning ingredients until fragrant and the color turns into a darker shade.
Then, add water and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add the peeled hard boiled eggs and simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Turn off the heat, discard the leaves, and serve gulai telur padang with steamed white rice.
A typical packet of nasi Padang
Typically if you buy a packet of Padang rice meal, you get a serving of rice, a serving of egg (gulai telur or telur balado, you get to choose usually), a serving of vegetables, and a serving of meat (rendang, gulai ayam, ayam bakar, ayam pop), and a generous amount of sambal lado.
A rice packet like this is very filling and most likely costs less than $2, a truly delicious and satisfying meal at a very reasonable price. Give it a try if you ever visit Indonesia 🙂
The weather is getting cold, the snow is falling, and people are trying to stay warm. It is wintertime in Minnesota, and most definitely a perfect time to cook up a batch of laksa ayam Jakarta (chicken coconut milk soup). Spicy hot soup is just the perfect remedy for cold weather, don’t you think? 🙂 Serve this spicy chicken soup with some boiled rice vermicellis (Indonesian: bihun rebus) or steamed white rice (Indonesian: nasi putih) and be ready for a second or third helping.
What is laksa?
Laksa is a spicy noodle soup dish popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Southern Thailand. This dish is particularly popular among Chinese descent and is one of the more popular dishes of Peranakan cuisine. Since laksa is such a popular dish in so many different countries, each country, and even each region within a country, has its own distinct variety of laksa. Just in Indonesia alone, we have laksa Medan, laksa Palembang, laksa Bogor, laksa Tangerang, and laksa Jakarta. The laksa recipe I share today is the one that is popular in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia.
What ingredients do I need to prepare laksa ayam Jakarta (Jakarta style chicken laksa)?
Laksa Jakarta, similar to other laksa varieties, is full of spices and herbs, and we will indeed be using plenty of those. First, there’s the laksa spice paste, which is made from:
ebi (dried tiny shrimps)
red chilies, I only use Fresno chilies, but you can also add bird-eye chilies for a spicier laksa
Then, we will also need these to complete the laksa:
chicken breast/thigh, we are making chicken laksa after all
kaffir lime leaves
What is ebi and how do I use this?
Ebi is dried tiny shrimps. You may have spotted these sold in little plastic packets in the refrigerated section in your Asian/Chinese market. These little guys will add so much flavor to your soup, and to be honest, laksa Jakarta just doesn’t taste quite right without them.
How do I use ebi?
To use ebi, simply measure the needed amount, then wash and soak in cold water until slightly puffy and soft. Then you can ground this with the rest of the spice paste ingredients in a blender/food processor to make the laksa spice paste.
Young jackfruit is a very common vegetables in Indonesia. Each region has its own signature young jackfruit dish. In Medan where I grew up, our signature dish is probably this sayur gori – jackfruit stew in coconut milk. This dish involves a long list of spices and aromatics, but I guarantee that it is a super easy dish to prepare. If you are fellow Medan expats, you will want to give this recipe a try and cook this lovely sayur gori in your kitchen 🙂
On rare occasions, your Asian markets may stock fresh young jackfruit. If you are feeling adventurous, you can buy one (it will be really large and heavy!), bring it home, and chop it all up yourself. You will need to boil raw young jackfruit until a bit tender before starting with this recipe (Call it Step 0 if you will). But on most occasions, you can always get some canned young jackfruit. I will assume you are going to use the can version 🙂
The long list of spices and aromatics
Aside from the young jackfruit, here is the super long list of what you need to make this dish. The easy ones: shallot, garlic, ginger, red chilies, coconut milk, turmeric powder, salt, pepper, sugar. These you may need to go to your Asian markets: galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, cardamom pods, star anise, candlenuts (or macadamia), and tamarind. Phew! Once you have everything, let’s start cooking.
Empal is a very popular Javanese dish, typically made from thinly pounded beef shank, cooked in spices, and finally fried. It can be a pretty laborious dish, and Mom usually just buy them from her favorite empal specialty store.
I recreate this dish with shredded chicken thigh meat, which cuts the cooking time significantly, but the taste is pretty much there. I hope you will give this ayam suwir saus empal – chicken in spices & coconut milk sauce recipe a try.
Poached chicken thigh meat
If you have any experience cooking with beef shank, you know it is a very tough cut and requires a long cooking time to make it tender.
Here I use skinless boneless chicken thigh meat, poached in boiling water for 20 minutes. So much faster, plus I get to prepare the spices while the chicken is gently poaching away.
Once done, just remove the chicken from the hot water, and shred the meat with two forks.
Once you are familiar with Indonesian dishes, you can expect a pretty long list of spices, and empal is no different. You need ginger, galangal, daun salam, tamarind, kecap manis, coconut milk, coriander, cumin, candlenuts (I use macadamia), shallot (I use red onion), and garlic.
Daun salam is usually translated into bay leaf, but I think it is more appropriate to call it Indonesian bay leaf since regular bay leaf is wildly different compared to our daun salam. If you cannot find this, it is best to omit instead of sub with regular bay leaf.
When I have plenty of vegetables that need to be cooked, I love turning them into sayur lontong. Sayur lontong is essentially a medley of vegetables and meat cooked in a spiced coconut milk broth. Since summer is the season when zucchini looks its best, I decided to prepare sayur lontong with zucchini.
Ebi = not vegetarian friendly
Although you can substitute the meat (typically beef, or chicken) with tofu, you cannot turn sayur lontong into vegetarian friendly dish. The broth for sayur lontong definitely needs to have ebi (toasted ground shrimp) in it, or it just won’t be the same. Dried shrimps can be easily found in almost any Asian market. You can also use shrimp powder (same amount) to cut prep time. I actually prefer the shrimp powder since the quality is much more consistent. Sometimes I go to my local Asian market and walk away disappointed with the inferior quality compared to the ones sold in Indonesia.
Choice of vegetables
You can use all sort of vegetables for this dish. The more common and popular ones include chayote, snake beans, stink beans, cabbage, and eggplant. Since some of the more commonly used vegetables can be hard to find in the United States, I also use zucchini, or other squashes, carrots, and green beans.
Here is my tips on how to cook the vegetables. Since different vegetables need different cooking time, I add the ones that need longer cooking time first before adding the broth. And once the meat is cooked, then I add the remaining vegetables that only needs short cooking time and cook only until those vegetables are tender but still retains its crispiness.
Indonesian bingka is a magical cake where the cake batter transforms itself during baking into two parts, an outer crust, and an inner custardy portion.
Imagine a pie, if you will, with no need to separately prepare the pie dough, and the pie filling. With one bingka batter, you will get the pie filling and the pie dough in one go!
And just like pie, bingka comes in many variations: sweet potato, cassava, potato, pumpkin, and so on. Since I have some kabocha pumpkins that needs to be used up, let’s bake some bingka labu (Indonesian kabocha pumpkin and coconut milk cake)!
What you need to prepare bingka labu
A bingka cake does’t require a lot of ingredients. You only need:
kabocha pumpkin flesh, to be steamed and mashed
coconut oil (or melted unsalted butter)
toasted black and white sesame seeds, for garnish and totally optional
Which pan size to choose
For this recipe, I choose to use an 8-inch round cake pan. For this bingka labu recipe, you can choose from four different cake pans, so hopefully you already have one of these at home:
a 7-inch square cake pan
an 8-inch round cake pan
an 8-inch square cake pan
a 9-inch round cake pan
If you choose option 1 or 2, your baking time is 60-75 minutes, or exactly as written in the recipe.
For option 3 or 4, your baking time is only 45-60 minutes, but your will end up with a shorter cake.
Wait until the bingka is completely cool before cutting and serving
The only visual indication you get that your bingka is properly baked is from the crust that has developed while baking. Once you see that a uniform crust has developed and the color of that crust is golden brown, your bingka is probably done.
The center of the cake will remain very soft and custardy when the cake is hot, especially so when it is just out from the oven, so you need to be patient and let the cake cool completely in the pan.
Once the cake is at room temperature, gently remove the cake from the pan, and cut into serving slices. You should notice that the kabocha pumpkin center is firm, or very close to firm, with no leak.
There is a really common nasi bungkus (wrapped rice) in Indonesia called nasi rames which is basically steamed white rice + labu siam tumis + meat/egg of your choice. Of course, the one with egg is cheaper than the one with meat (usually chicken).
The literal translation to tumis is stir fry, but I don’t think it is really appropriate for this dish since it is so wet and has lots of sauce, more like broth or stew than a stir fry. So, though most people lovingly called this dish labu siam tumis, I am going to translate this dish to chayote in spicy coconut milk. Note the spicy part, and be warned that this dish is super fiery hot! Just the perfect accompaniment for steamed white rice. ♥
What you need to make labu siam tumis at home
Whenever I see some fresh and lovely chayotes, it’s almost an automatic response to grab some of those, along with the following ingredients:
shallots, I buy the smaller Chinese/Asian shallots, but French shallots work too, even red onions if that’s all your grocery has
red chilies, we use a combination of cabe keriting (cayenne chilies) and cabe besar (Fresno chilies). If you want a milder dish, go with 100% Fresno. If you want a spicier dish, go with cabe rawit (bird eye chilies) and Fresno.
candlenuts, sub with an equal amount of macadamia nuts
palm sugar, block or granulated versions are both fine
daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves), simply omit if you don’t have them
How to prepare chayotes
Chayotes have a slight natural bitterness to it, and if that bothers you, you will need to do the following:
Cut 1/2 to 1 inch of the top part.
Rub the top part and the bottom part together in a circular motion until you see white residue emerges. Do this for about 2 minutes to draw out as much of the white stuff as possible.
Wash and drain the chayote with cold water. Your chayotes should be so much less bitter now.
If the steps above sound familiar, it may be because you are also doing the same steps with cucumbers! Personally, I rarely do this since the bitterness is very slight and it doesn’t really bother me at all. I also don’t do these same steps with my cucumbers. So I guess, if you fall into the camp of people who need to do this with their cucumbers, you possible want to do the same with chayotes.
Whether or not you do the steps above, you need to do the following steps to prep the chayotes for this dish:
Peel the skin with a peeler.
Cut into half lengthwise, then cut into matchsticks. It is not necessary to remove the seed/pit as that can be eaten.
Now that your chayotes are ready, let’s finish cooking labu siam tumis following my recipe. 🙂
What other dishes do I need to prepare nasi rames?
For festive occasions or for when you just want to indulge yourself, why not make a complete Indonesian nasi rames meal set? Some dishes that you can make other than this labu siam tumis and steamed white rice include:
When I think of nasi rames, or when most Indonesians think of nasi rames, we think of a rice meal set with at least three dishes on top of the rice. So if you want to serve your nasi rames with labu siam tumis, you can pick another two dishes from my suggestion.
The combination of pandan leaves and coconut milk immediately transports me back to Indonesia as I munch on this lovely pandan coconut butter cake accompanied by ice tea, jasmine of course, so I can pretend to have a wonderful tea time in the tropics.
The green color comes from pandan leaves, and before you ask, I have no idea what the equivalent would be if using pandan essence instead of 100% natural pandan extract from pandan leaves.
To ensure that your natural pandan extract looks as green as possible, try to use only the top part of pandan leaves where they are all green. But even if your cake doesn’t end up looking as green as you like, you still have the peace of mind that the coloring is all-natural instead of using green dye.
Make pandan extract from fresh/frozen pandan leaves
Whenever I prepare a pandan dessert, I make my own pandan extract from fresh/frozen pandan leaves. To achieve the green color for this cake, I use:
50 gram pandan leaves, use the green part of the leaves only
100 ml water
Simply cut the leaves into thin strips with a pair of scissors and blend them with water in a blender until the leaves are completely pulverized. Squeeze to obtain about 75 ml of pandan extract.
If your leaves don’t look very green, you may want to increase the amount up to 75 grams just to be sure that you will get a green cake.
Can I use store-bought pandan extract?
If you cannot find fresh/frozen pandan leaves and want to use store-bought pandan extract instead, use 1 teaspoon of store-bought pandan extract and add 75 ml of either water, milk, or coconut milk.
If you need a recommendation for a store-bought pandan extract, then all I will say is that most Indonesians use Koepoe-Koepoe pandan extract, but seriously, the real deal is simply so much better.
Personally, I would rather bake a regular butter cake instead of using store-bought extract.
Prepare the batter
Once my pandan extract is ready, I usually do the following:
Grease and line my 8-inch square cake pan. You can use either a 2″ tall pan or a 3″ tall pan. Be sure that your parchment paper overhangs the pan so you can easily grab the extra paper to remove the cake later on.
Preheat the oven to 160 Celsius (320 Fahrenheit).
Boil a pot of hot water to fill a baking tray for steam bake (bain-marie).
Once everything is done, it is time to prepare the cake batter:
Meringue batter: Whisk egg whites until foamy, then add vinegar or cream of tartar and whisk until pale, then gradually add sugar and continue whisking until medium peak. Set this aside.
Egg yolk batter: Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale, then add melted butter, coconut cream, and pandan extract. Beat until well mixed. Sift in cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat on lower speed just until well mixed.
Fold the meringue into egg yolk batter in 3 batches. Use either a balloon whisk or a spatula for this.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap to remove air bubbles.
Baking the butter cake with a water bath method
For a super smooth cake, I usually bake the cake with a bain-marie method or a water bath method. Here is what I do:
Position one oven rack at the bottom and one oven rack in the middle.
Place a baking tray at the bottom and filled the tray with hot water.
Place the cake pan at the middle rack.
Bake until the cake is fully cooked and the top is golden brown. This usually takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Once the cake is done, remove from the oven and gently remove the cake by grabbing the overhanging parchment paper. Cool completely on a wire rack. Once the cake is completely cool, slice it into 9 to 16 squares. I usually do 16 squares since a butter cake can be quite rich. I hope you will love this cake as much as I do. 🙂
Other pandan recipes you may want to try
If you love pandan, whether the color, or the flavor, or both, you may want to give my other pandan recipes a try:
And again, if you love a good butter cake and you don’t have pandan leaves, please give my Mrs. Ng old fashioned butter cake recipe a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed. 🙂
Sayur lodeh is Indonesian vegetable stew in coconut milk. Like its cousin, sayur asem, sayur lodeh has no fixed rules on which vegetables to use.
As long as you have the ingredients to prepare the spiced coconut milk broth, you can create your own version of lodeh from an assortment of vegetables you have in your home.
To me, cooking a batch of lodeh is a great way to clean up my fridge from the odd carrot, celery, and whatnot. 🙂
What are the typical vegetables that go into an Indonesian sayur lodeh?
It is true you can use an assorted mixture of vegetables to prepare sayur lodeh, but here is a list of the more commonly used vegetables in a typical Indonesia sayur lodeh:
snake/long bean (Indonesian: kacang panjang)
Thai eggplant (Indonesian: terong hijau)
Chinese eggplant (Indonesian: terong ungu)
Indonesian tempe/soybean tempeh, if you want, you can use my recipe to make homemade tempeh
corn (Indonesian: jagung)
cabbage (Indonesian: kol)
chayote (Indonesian: labu siam)
melinjo leaves (Indonesian: daun melinjo)
Those are just the more popular and more common vegetables you see in a typical lodeh. You don’t have to use all of them, just pick at least 3 vegetables, then choose either tempeh or tofu for the protein, and you should get a proper Indonesian lodeh. 🙂
What are the spices to prepare sayur lodeh broth?
To prepare the coconut milk broth, you will need:
coconut milk (Indonesian: santan)
water, or chicken stock
shallot (Indonesian: bawang merah)
garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
red chilies (Indonesian: cabe merah), I use Fresno chilies, but you can use bird-eye chilies or cayenne chilies too
If you prefer a white-colored broth, omit red chilies and ground turmeric when you make the spice paste. Simply slice the red chilies and add them with the vegetables when cooking the stew.
If you prefer an orange-colored broth like the one in my photos, please add the red chilies (plus 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric, if you wish) when you make the spice paste.
I must say that most Indonesians prefer the white-colored broth though. 🙂
How do you cook sayur lodeh?
Sayur lodeh is one of the easiest vegetable stew you can make. Once all the prep work is done, please do the following:
Heat oil in a soup pot/wok over medium-high heat. Fry the spice paste until fragrant. This should take about 5 minutes.
Add daun salam (if using) and thinly sliced chilies (if not included in the spice paste). Stir for another minute.
Add coconut milk, water/chicken stock, season with salt and palm sugar. Bring to a boil.
Add long/snake beans, eggplants, soybean tempeh, and tomato. Once it boils again, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are fully cooked and tender. Adjust the amount of salt/palm sugar as needed.
Turn off the heat, transfer to a serving bowl, and serve immediately with steamed white rice.
What do I serve with sayur lodeh?
Sayur lodeh is one of Indonesian festive food. As such, it is usually served together with many other dishes, such as:
Shredded chicken dishes are my go-to when I need to prepare a quick and easy Indonesian dish. They are usually so much simpler compared to other Indonesian chicken dishes, and still packs a ton of flavor.
One of my favorite shredded chicken dishes is this ayam suwir santan, or shredded chicken in coconut milk. This dish originates from Solo, and is part of the traditional Solo rice meal called nasi liwet. But, I make this all the time to enjoy with a simple steamed white rice.
What do I need to prepare ayam suwir santan?
You will need:
2 chicken breast, cut into thin slices
200 ml (1/2 can) coconut milk
300 ml water
3 daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves), omit if you don’t have these
2 teaspoon palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa), or use coconut sugar