Sweet marinated meat, skewered and char-grilled for that irresistible, flame-kissed, smoky flavor.
Indonesian Chicken and Pork Satay
If you recall I have had many wonderful eating experiences stemming from that International Dorm in Hawaii (Niku-Jaga, Chicken Pho, Thai Son-in-Law Eggs, Indonesian-inspired Sauteed Shrimp). But for this particular recipe, my memories are not based in the dorm. Yes, the Indonesian friends who made them were from that dorm but we had taken the satay and hibachi (portable grill) and had gone to cook them at the park by the beach. Hawaii does that to you—it makes you want to go out to the beach as often as you can!
So imagine with me, if you can, the cool tradewind breezes, and in the background, the sound of Hawaiian music playing on somebody’s boombox, the blue ocean beckoning a slight distance away, the wide, expansive park next to the beach and us sitting under a shady tree with our hibachi going. Now that you have that setting in your mind, imagine any food not tasting just wonderful. But this was satay, it wasn’t just any food, it was GOOD food.
Kek Lapis Sarawak – Sarawak Layer Cakes
Want to know what goes into making such beautiful cakes? So did we!
Getting to Know You
Kek Lapis, or Layer Cake, is originally from our neighboring country of Indonesia. It is made of many, millimeter-thin layers of cake, baked one layer at a time to emphasize the layers. The recipe usually calls for butter, eggs, sugar, flour, and other coloring or flavoring ingredients, but no leavening agents. It’s more like a pound cake than the light layer cakes that we have baked in the House of Annie’s own oven.
About 20 years ago, Sarawakians took kek lapis to the next level by incorporating vibrant colors and different flavors than the original Indonesian recipe. They went even further by crafting intricate designs into the middle of the cakes. These beautiful designs are what makes Sarawak Layer Cakes so unique. The cakes are served on special occasions like birthdays, weddings, or cultural celebrations such as Aidilfitri, Christmas, and Chinese New Year.
While I was living in a graduate international dorm in Hawaii, I got to taste a lot of different Asian and Pacific cuisines. This dish is inspired by my Indonesian friends, Nina and Jo, who prepared it one evening and invited me to join them for dinner. I did not get a recipe but do remember that I loved the flavors. I also remember that funnily enough, they called this dish their "Westernized" version of sauteed shrimp (because of the Worchestershire Sauce). If you know what it’s called and have the real recipe, please do share with me.
In the meantime, I tried to recreate this dish from my memory of it (which is pretty faulty and it was over 10 years ago). I remember distinctly that it had a sweet and tangy flavor from the "W" sauce and there was garlic and green onions in it.
When fresh fish and Southeast Asian spices meet, the results are outstanding!
Ikan Pepes: Indonesian Spiced Fish
When I first visited Malaysia, one of the many dishes that stuck out in my mind was Ikan Bakar – a fresh skate wing that was marinated in a spice paste, wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. The sweet and spicy chili paste, coupled with the smokiness of the singed banana leaf, permeated the tender flesh of the skate. Everytime we go back, I look forward to having this dish.
Here in the Bay Area, we were introduced to Bay Leaf Indonesian Restaurant in Sunnyvale. They have a dish similar to the grilled skate wing called ikan pepes. Ikan simply means “fish”. Pepes is the type of cooking process used: wrap in banana leaf, steam until cooked through, then finish off on the grill. Ever since having ikan pepes at Bay Leaf, I’ve been meaning to do this dish at home.