Sunday, June 04, 2006

Rice Table -' rijsttafel'

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a picture of rijsttafel by colleentravel5
Amsterdam (A Special Feast)

The Indonesian feast rijsttafel is Holland's favorite meal and has been ever since the Dutch United East India Company captains introduced it to the wealthy burghers of Amsterdam in the 17th century. The rijsttafel (literally "rice table") originated with Dutch plantation overseers in Indonesia, who liked to sample selectively from Indonesian cuisine. It became a kind of tradition, one upheld by Indonesian immigrants to Holland who opened restaurants and, knowing the Dutch fondness for rijsttafel, made it a standard menu item. Rijsttafels are only a small part of the menu in an Indonesian restaurant, and there is a trend among the Dutch to look down on them as being just for tourists; the Dutch generally have a good understanding of Indonesian cuisine and prefer to order an individual dish rather than the mixed hash of flavors of a rijsttafel. However, rijsttafels remain popular, and many Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai restaurants in Holland have copied the idea.

Rijsttafel is an acquired taste, and unless you already have a stomach for both Chinese and Indian cooking, you may not like much of what you eat. But to be in Holland and not at least try a rijsttafel is as much a pity as it would be to miss seeing Rembrandt's The Night Watch while you had the chance. Besides, with more than 20 different dishes on the table, you're bound to find a few you enjoy.

The basic concept of a rijsttafel is to eat a bit of this and a bit of that, blending the flavors and textures. A simple, unadorned bed of rice is the base and the mediator between spicy meats and bland vegetables or fruits, between sweet-and-sour tastes, soft-and-crunchy textures. Although a rijsttafel for one is possible, this feast is better shared by two or by a table full of people. In the case of a solitary diner or a couple, a 17-dish rijsttafel will be enough food; with four or more, order a 24- or 30-dish rijsttafel and you can experience the total taste treat.

Before you begin to imagine 30 dinner-size plates of food, it's important to mention that the dishes used to serve an Indonesian meal are small and the portions served are gauged by the number of people expected to share them. Remember, the idea is to have tastes of many things rather than a full meal of any single item. Also, there are no separate courses in an Indonesian rijsttafel. Once your table has been set with a row of low, Sterno-powered plate warmers, all 17 or 24 or 30 dishes arrive all at one time, like a culinary avalanche, the sweets along with the sours and the spicy, so you're left to plot your own course through the extravaganza. (Beware, however, of one very appealing dish of sauce with small chunks of what looks to be bright-red onion--that is sambal badjak, or simply sambal, and it's hotter than hot.)

Among the customary dishes and ingredients of a rijsttafel are loempia (classic Chinese-style egg rolls); satay, or sateh (small kebabs of pork, grilled and served with a spicy peanut sauce); perkedel (meatballs); gado-gado (vegetables in peanut sauce); daging smoor (beef in soy sauce); babi ketjap (pork in soy sauce); kroepoek (crunchy, puffy shrimp toast); serundeng (fried coconut); roedjak manis (fruit in sweet sauce); and pisang goreng (fried banana).



Source: Frommer's Amsterdam, 13th Edition



Rijsttafel
(Dutch: "rice table"), an elaborate meal of Indonesian dishes developed during the Dutch colonial era. It is popular In The Netherlands and at both Dutch and Indonesian restaurants abroad.

In essence the rijsttafel consists of rice and foods to accompany it: curried meats, fish, chicken, vegetables, fruits, relishes, pickles, sauces, condiments, nuts, eggs, and so on. The dinner is served a plate of rice and chooses from among the side dishes to achieve a balance of salty, spicy, sweet, and sour accompaniments. A rijsttafel of 40 dishes was not uncommon, the meal sometimes taking three to four hours to consume. -Encyclopedia Britannica-

source: Bandung Restaurant , WI.

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Recipes

Satay Ayam (Chicken Satay)
Serves approximately six people, 10 to 12 as part of a rijsttafel

Satay, quick-grilled over a roadside fire, is popular street food today in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia, but its home is Indonesia. Tuti Taylor-Weber of Oakland, California's Dutch East Indies Restaurant provides us with her version.

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. tamarind juice (see ingredients list)

Cut chicken into cubes of approximately 3/4" on a side. Mix together remaining ingredients and marinate chicken for two hours. Soak bamboo skewers in water for approximately 20 minutes.

Thread chicken onto skewers, four or five to a skewer, and grill over glowing coals or under preheated grill four minutes to a side or until chicken is brown on all sides.

Serve satay with peanut sauce and a fiery sambal to satisfy your need for heat.



Satay Sauce

8 Tb. crunchy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups water
3 tsp. garlic salt
3 tsp. dark brown sugar
Tamarind juice to taste
Coconut milk (see ingredients list) or additional water

Put peanut butter and water in a saucepan and stir over gentle heat until mixed.

Remove from heat and add all other ingredients except coconut milk or additional water. Use coconut milk or water to make sauce thick yet pouring consistency. Check seasonings and add more salt and tamarind juice if needed.



Rendang
Serves eight to ten people, 12 to 15 is part of a rijsttafel

Sumatrans and Javanese have very different interpretations of this favorite beef dish. Sumatrans like it hot and dry, while Javanese like it sweeter with more gravy. While, a Javanese herself, Tuti leans toward the style of Padang in Sumatra, considered by most the source of the best food in the country. Out of sympathy for her guests, she cuts back on the hot pepper. But if you'd like to sample true Padang-style eating, load up on the sambal.

1 medium onion chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tb. fresh ginger, chopped
5 fresh red hot chillies chopped or 2 Tb. crushed dry chili
2 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. galanga powder (see ingredients list)
4 tsp. paprika
6 kemiri (see ingredients list)
6 kaffir lime leaves (see ingredients list)
1 stalk of fresh lemon grass or 1 Tb. lemon grass powder (see ingredients list)
1/2 cup tamarind juice
1/2 cup water

3 lbs. round or chuck steak cut into strips approximately 1 1/2 wide and 2 1/2 long

Mix all ingredients but meat in a blender or food processor. Add to a large saucepan, add meat and bring quickly to a boil.

Reduce heat to moderate, stirring occasionally until sauce reduces by one-half. Turn heat to low and continue cooking until gravy is almost dry stirring frequently to ensure mixture does not stick to the pan.

Allow meat to fry in remaining oil until it is dark brown. Cooking time approximately two hours. Serve with white rice.



Kari Ikan (Fish Curry)
Serves 4 people, more for a rijsttafel


No sampling of Indonesian dishes would be complete without seafood or a curry. Syamsul and Beverley Bachri, owners of
Bachri's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania provide us with the perfect marriage, a fish curry, and a simple one at that.

1 Tb. oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
8 kemiri ground
1 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup water
4 fish fillets
2 scallions, chopped

Heat oil in a wok, add sliced onion, and stir-fry until tender. Add ginger, kemiri, and curry powder, and stir-fry over low
heat for 3 minutes.

Add kecap manis, lemon juice, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.

Add fish fillets in a single layer in the wok. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes on each side or until the fish is done. Place on a platter, sprinkle with chopped scallions, and serve with sambal and sliced cucumber salad along with white rice.



Semur Daging (Slices Of Beef In Soya Sauce)
Serves 3 or 4, more for a rijstaffel


On my first night in Jakarta, my hostess prepared semur. No doubt she felt it would be easy on my wimpy western palate, but I found its sweetness strange and exotic. Of course a palate trained in the Midwest during the fifties and sixties would have found anything exotic! Now that I have toughened up, I know to serve a dish like this with plenty of sambal for a balance between sweet and hot. This is Syamsul and Beverley Bachri's version.

1 lb. beef roast, thinly sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tb. kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
2 Tb. butter
2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
2 potatos, thinly sliced
2 tomatos, peeled and chopped
4 scallions, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
Thinly sliced fried onion

Fry shallots and garlic in butter until lightly browned. Add meat and potato slices, and saute briefly. Add the tomato, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well.

Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add eggs and cook for 5 minutes more. Add scallions just prior to serving and garnish with fried onions. Serve with white rice.



Sambal

And at last, the food that gives Indonesian cuisine its spark. There are sambals of all sorts to accompany different kinds of dishes. Some are used as an ingredient in dishes like sambal goreng ikan (fish fried in sambal). The heat can come from fresh red chillies for from bottled chilli paste. This is Syamsul and Beverley's basic recipe. Modify it to suit your needs.

2 large tomatoes
2 large Spanish onions
1 tsp. terasi (see ingredients list)
Several cloves of garlic
1/2 cup sambal oelek (raw chili paste) (see ingredients list)
1/4 cup oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend together in a food processor the tomatoes, onions, terasi, garlic and sambal oelek until slightly chunky. Do not
overblend.

Place mixture in a pot, preferable with a non stick surface with the oil, salt and pepper and lightly boil until no water surfaces. The sambal is done when the consistency is constant and it no longer seperates.

(For Sambal Manis - Sweet Sambal -- a very common variation on the theme, add 1/4 cup of Kecap Manis when the sambal is almost done.)



Staple Ingredients

Tamarind juice is made from block tamarind concentrate sold in Asian stores, some supermarkets and by mail order. To make tamarind juice, break off a piece of the block and soak in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes. Squeeze and loosen the remainder of the flesh from the seeds and strain. Use a ratio of approximately 1:4 tamarind concentrate to water.

Coconut milk can be found canned at Asian groceries, many supermarkets and by mail order. Mae Ploy from Thailand is the richest brand available.

Galanga (also known as laos) powder, the ground root of a rhizome related to ginger, can be found in Asian groceries, some supermarkets and by mail order.

Kemiri or candlenut is ground and used as a thickening agent in Indonesian food. It can be found at Asian groceries and by mail order. Macadamia nut will provide approximately the same texture, but not the same flavor. Don't eat kemiri raw! They contain a mildly toxic substance which is destroyed by cooking.

Kaffir lime leaves can be found frozen and dried at Asian food stores. The frozen ones are more flavorful.

Lemon grass/lemon grass powder are both found in Asian groceries. Fresh lemon grass, also found in farmer's markets in cities with large Asian populations, is far superior to the powder and easy to grow in mild climates. Try rooting some stalks in water and planting them outdoors.

Terasi or shrimp paste can be found in Asian groceries and by mail order. In a pinch, substitute Thai or Vietnamese shrimp paste or even Filipino bagoong, all of which may be more available.

Sambal Oelek or raw chili paste is available in Asian markets and by mail order. Like many of these ingredients, you can get them from Syamsul and Beverley by ordering on-line.


Source : Sally's Place


More Indonesian recipes can be found as accompanion to Rijsttafel. You can use your creativity according to your tastes by adding more recipes . I came across a good place to start with and has a variety of indonesian recipes in it
HERE.