Friday, July 31, 2009

Guling Celeng - Balinese Roast Suckling Pig

The Balinese daily food are quite simple. Usually they have rice accompanied by a selection of dishes, which includes vegetables, maybe a small amount of meat or fish and a variety of condiments (sambals). You can get a feel of this simple meal by ordering ‘Nasi Campur’ at a ‘warung’ (small eatery) in Bali.
In contrast, during a festival or ceremony, they prepared lavish dishes and eat together in a community.  One of those traditional dish that is usually served during ceremony is ‘Babi Guling’.

Today, it is quite common for this dish to be served in restaurants all over Bali.  One of the more well known restaurant serving this dish is ‘Ibu Oka’in Ubud.

This restaurant only serves this dish in various configuration. Business starts at 10am and usually sold out by about 3pm. I was told they can sell about five pigs a day. When we were there, we ordered the ‘special’ option which includes some crunchy bits of the roasted tribe and intestines. The standard option is just a plate of rice with a few slices of the pork and a small piece of crackling. The sauces from the marinade are poured over the serving. The marinade are made from ingredients which include garlic, shallots, fresh ginger, candlenuts, turmeric root, coriander seeds, galangal, bird’s eye chillies, lemongrass, black peppercorns, kaffir lime leaves,  dried shrimp paste and salam leaves (balinese herb).

I find the serving quite small, with a small piece of the pork. Lots of rice though, with generous amount of sauce poured over it. It is not like 'Wow, this is really good!' response. The sauce is very gritty with the residual of the spices.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Malaysian Satay

Note: I am currently having my vacation in Malaysia and Bali. Therefore I am taking the opportunity to write about the my culinary experience during my travel.
This particular way of preparing meat on the skewer is unique and prevalent in this Region (South East Asia). You will come across this cuisine when travelling in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. However, the flavour and style in the preparation differs between Malaysia and Indonesia (Singapore’s is similar to Malaysia). The proportion of spices used is different and the peanut sauce that accompanied this dish is usually more starchy and glazed in Indonesia.

After we landed at the KL International Airport in Sepang, on our way to KL (about 80 kms) we stopped over at Kajang, a town famous for its satay to the extent that the term ‘Satay Kajang’ is used by restaurants throughout the country to suggest the excellence of their satay.

The satay is accompanied by raw onions, peanut sauce and ‘Ketupat’- compressed rice cakes. The rice cakes are prepared by packing uncooked rice into a cage weaved using cocunut leaves. When the package is boiled, the rice inside starts to cook, swelling and compressing itself into cakes.

Back home in Melbourne, when the mood permits, we sometimes have a satay party. The preparation of satay takes a lot of effort and time, starting the day before the event. We would prepare the marinade from scratch using lemon grass, ground coriander, garlics, onions, turmeric etc., The meat is cut into little cubes. We then marinade the meat and leave it in the fridge overnight.

Next, we will have to prepare the peanut sauce. As the satay is best served hot from the grill, we cook them over the charcoal fire and served hot. This is typical of ‘slow food’ cooking; with many stages of preparation but well worth the trouble. 

Though there are restaurants selling satay in Melbourne, they are pricy and not as common as in Malaysia. As my palate has changed after living in Melbourne for 13 years, I like the quality of the spices and meat here, and the details we personally put into the home-cooked satay. I find it difficult or rare to find satay of a matching to our standard in Malaysia.