“It’s difficult to name a dish that is typically Indonesian, because many favorite recipes and flavors come from other countries.”
– Cooking the Indonesian Way, by Kari Connell and Merry Anwar
Recently I’ve gotten quite a few e-mails asking for more details on exactly what it is that we’re doing in our cooking classes. The questions are somewhat vague, but I’ll try to convey a little bit about the structure, and use one class from this week as an example. First, these are not demo classes, they’re hands on – for that reason I limit the classes to 3-4 people, as that’s the maximum that can both fit in the kitchen reasonably comfortably, and also give everyone a chance to participate in parts of the food preparation. I will do a demo class on a particular topic by special request, but I really prefer that people get in their and learn by doing.
In general, just because my primary background is in Italian and Mediterranean cooking, the classes I’ve scheduled out tend to be from those genres. A ten-session intro to Italian cooking, five session regional Italian classes, five session random Mediterranean regional classes, that sort of thing. But, when it comes to cooking, once you understand cooking techniques and processes, the vast majority of the rest of it is simply differing ingredients and combinations – if you know how to cook, you can cook anything – at least in theory. I keep a schedule of what’s coming up on this site over their in the righthand column, and post updates on our facebook page as well. And, I’m happy to schedule additional topics, subject to my availability – just ask.
So, for example, by request, I started offering a series of vegan cooking classes, pretty much from random areas of the world, and focusing on basic techniques. The student who requested this series tends to like spicier foods so we’ve focused on those, and have just started into a six session series of classes preparing basic, classic dishes from six of the ASEAN countries – with the twist that all the dishes are prepared to vegan standards. This week we focused on Indonesia…
We started off with a gado-gado, a dish that’s pretty much up to vegan standards anyway, the only non-vegan ingredient usually being a little bit of shrimp paste in the sauce, leaving that out can be easily compensated for with a little extra soy or vegetarian oyster sauce. Blanched and shocked vegetables, a spicy peanut sauce and fried onions atop, served up as a salad or main course.
Mi Goreng, one of my favorite fried noodle dishes, in this case with buckwheat soba, the flat Italian style green beans (filling in for snowpeas which I couldn’t find in the market this week), and cubes of tofu that had first been frozen and then thawed and pressed to create a “meaty” texture.
And, bringing in the flavors of a classic Rendang, this caramelized shallot and asparagus version adapted from a recipe by Simon Rimmer, author of The Accidental Vegetarian. Normally served over rice, we opted not to prepare rice simply because we already had too much food to eat!