OK, it’s official, I am in looooooooove with Indonesian food.
Since discovering the taste of real Indonesian food at Java Spice in Rowland Heights, I have had no less than 5 Indonesian meals (eat-in, take-out, and home cooking included) in the last two weeks: dishes such as Ayam Kalasan, Soto Ayam, Gado-Gado, Nasi Goreng, and Sate.
This is not my first mad cuisine crush. I will spend an obsessive amount of time researching a new (to me) cuisine when I fall in love with it. I have been similarly smitten with Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Sichuan cuisines. So yes, I became a food stalker and searched everywhere for Indonesian recipes, food pictures, blogs, restaurants, and cookbooks.
It was like being back at school and Indonesian food was my graduate course. I burned the midnight oil for an Indonesian Food exam. I went to local libraries, Borders, Barnes & Noble’s religiously and holed up in the ethnic cookbooks section reading and ogling beautiful Indonesian cookbooks (unfortunately, there are only a handful of them!). I just have to cook Indonesian food in my kitchen, with my own hands, to satisfy and get over my current obsessive-compulsive behavior…
And before the restraining order goes into effect.
Finally I got myself the long list of ingredients and spent hours cooking up the following Soto Ayam.
I am never a huge fan of Soto Ayam in Malaysia but the Indonesian version of Soto Ayam won me over. To kick up the flavor of the traditional Soto Ayam, this variation is infused with coconut milk and more spices. In Indonesia , this dish is called Soto Resah. It tasted very good and my native Malaysian palate favors this more complex and richer rendition.
1/2 chicken breast meat, skinless and deboned (cut into small cubes)
1 stalk of lemon grass (cut into 3 strips)
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of chicken broth
1 glass of water
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
4 shallots (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 pieces of turmeric (peeled and chopped) or 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
2-inch piece of galangal (peeled and sliced)
2-inch piece of ginger (peeled and sliced)
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
2 cups of sliced cabbages
2 cups of bean sprouts
1/2 pack of vermicelli or 1 small package of glass noodles
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 hard-boiled eggs (cut into wedges)
1 stalk of spring onion (chopped)
Blend the spice paste in a food processor. Add some water if needed. Pour some oil in a pot and add in the spice paste. Stir the spice paste and wait for it to turn light brown. Add in chicken broth, coconut milk, lemon grass strips, and water. Once the broth starts boiling, add in chicken breast cubes. Cover the pot and lower the heat and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Blanch beansprouts, pre-soaked vermicelli / glass noddles, cabbages in another pot of boiling water and transfer them into a bowl once they are cooked. Add in toppings of hard-boiled eggs, chopped spring onions and pour the hot chicken broth into the bowl. Serve hot with lime wedges.
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