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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sambal Matah : A Balinese Dipping Sauce

A couple of colleagues went to Bali for New Year and were talking about their awesome holiday pver lunch, and there it was -  a gush of wonderful gastronomical memories from this beautiful place, all coming back to me like a song last heard that you can't get rid off in your head. One unforgettable sambal (a chili based sauce, used as a condiment, just as you would use tomato sauce and brown sauce) to me was only remembered as "sambal bali" because that was what the restaurant called it! I did a quick search on balinese sambal and tried to recall what the ingredients were, and found this sambal matah recipe which was close enough to describe it.

I had to give it a go to see if it would hit the spot!

ingredients :
15 shallots, peeled, cut in half and finely sliced (unfortunately I had 3 shallots only so i had to substitute one huge gigantic brown onion)
4 cloves garlic, cut in half & sliced (i minced it)
15 small sliced chilies, minced
5 lemon leaves ("daun limau") chopped finely
1 tsp roasted shrimp cake (terasi), finely grated (i used belacan, that huge brown chunk on the lower left side, about 1 tsp worth, crumbled)
4 stalks lemon grass, bruised and very finely sliced
salt and ground black pepper
2 tbsp freshly squeezed limejuice
80 ml coconut oil (i used peanut oil)

a whole lot of chopping going on

1. Combine above ingredients in deep bowl and mix well for 5 minutes.
2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For an enhanced flavor, give it a quick saute on medium-low heat.

It was tempting to use a food processor but I remembered the sambal for its texture as well, like the crunchy bits of lemongrass, which is also one of the things that make it quite unique.

Best served with grilled fish ("ikan bakar").

However for this weekend, there was an extra cast for the Indonesian treat - petai (or "pete" pronounced "peh-teh"). I would describe it as bitter broad beans.... (very, very, very bitter beans!). I suppose it would be an acquired taste, but I personally love it. I found tinned petai in one of the newly discovered Asian shops.

 just quickly stir fried with the sambal bali. yumm!
these beans look slightly lighter green in color - the fresh ones have a vibrant green color.

Previous sambal recipe here

Grapefruit Tart (and Tartlets)

A harvest of grapefruits one lovely summer day meant that the fruits had to be put to good use.  A previous play on lemon tart yielded good results - this time, the experiment was to substitute the grapefruits for the lemons. A choice too safe, you'd think, especially for this adventurous cook! But there were some folks coming over and I can't risk serving a completely untested recipe!

So grapefruit tart it is.

I just followed the same steps as per the previous recipe, and just directly substituted the juice of 3 grapefruits instead of lemon juice. Since this grapefruit was slightly sweet, the result was also quite nice.

the pastry rolled out and into the tart tin

Well, one big tart and 3 tartlets  :p

bake it blind at 180C for around 15 minutes

let cool for a bit and serve with a dusting of icing sugar and vanilla ice cream

Previous grapefruit mug shot here and here

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Seine, in the morning

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

If the purpose is not to visit a relative, then I suppose most people would find it weird to drop by the city's cemetery...especially if one is on holiday. However, the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris would probably be an exemption, as this is one of the most famous graveyards in the world. The reason - most of the 300,000 names whose remains therein lie were actually pretty famous before their bodies were laid to rest. Tourists flock to have a glimpse of the epitaphs of these personalities, walk on cobblestone paths, see huge copper statues that have oxidized and turned green, or perhaps admire a slightly creepy landscape when the sun sets.

There are some people working inside the cemetery, friendly chaps (not ghosts) who are 'guides' and can provide shortcuts from one famous personality's grave to another...for a fee of course ("you know Jim Morrison? This way! Come on baby light my fire!"). Maps are available for those who prefer to explore on their own time and pace.

For more info, there is a movie link here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Right! It's been more than a month since the last post on this blog, and I profusely apologize for such staggering delinquency - although I do have good reasons... all of which will be posted soon!

Melbourne is in for another very hot summer and the scorching sun is annihilating almost all of the herbs and veggies in the patch including the typically hardy mint growing vigorously in a tub at the corner.

So before the sun takes its life away I got a couple of handfuls of leaves and gave it justice by putting it into a cooling summer cocktail - a mojito.

Thought it would be good to sip this refreshing drink, as I contemplate on the chronology of these blog posts invoked all in the name of documentation. Cough.


see some of the burnt leaves on the left side


A mojito is a highball which means it has a larger quantity of non-alcoholic mixer compared to its alcoholic base. This mojito was made of

a handful of fresh mint leaves (around 12 leaves)
2 teaspoons white sugar
4 lime wedges
60ml (2 shots) of Bacardi (or any white rhum)
Ice cubes
soda water

In a tall glass muddle the mint leaves, sugar and lime (I used the end of a rolling pin)

pre-smash photo

Add rhum, top with soda water, serve with ice and a sprig of mint as garnish

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the heat (especially for those who spent the previous month in the much colder parts of this planet!)

Previous summer cooler here

Those Who Stopped By

Scribe's Notes

This pitstop is where incoherent ramblings seem to have meaning, where things or events are thought of and assessed, where great things are documented and perhaps any not-so-good happenings are written down in attempt to be forgotten!

So from the diversely abstract to the intensely specific, it's off to making tracks, and it is here where it stops for a thought or two.

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