The fusion of flavours from a mix of different ethnic groups and cultures, makes Indonesian and Malaysian food very diverse and interesting. They’ve heavily influenced each other as well, so you find similar dishes, with similar names in both countries.
The weekend is now the best time to get Steve working in the kitchen, so he started week 2 off with another classic in both Malaysia and Indonesia, Mee Goreng, which means ‘fried noodles’. You can imagine his horror when he searched through the cupboards only to realise we were out of noodles! Luckily we did have spaghetti, and after all that’s really just a wheat noodle, so spaghetti mee goreng it was. And it was good. Which was lucky, considering how much he made!
Indonesian stir fry
As a vegetarian or vegan, Asian food can often be a bit tricky. Ingredients such as oyster sauce, fish sauce and shrimp paste are still used in so-called vegetarian and vegan dishes. The combination of oyster and soy sauce is very common in a lot of Indonesian stir fries and other dishes. I wanted to make a classic style Indonesian stir fry, but I didn’t have any vegetarian oyster sauce. One recommended substitution is a mix of dark soy and hoisin sauces, but as I didn’t have any hoisin I opted for black bean sauce instead. Regardless it turned out beautifully, with a thick, rich, dark, tangy sauce.
Sayur tumis – Indonesian vegetable stir fry
This Indonesian stir fry is much lighter than the previous one I made. The traditional recipe uses shrimp paste, but I substituted yellow bean paste for that. It has a strong, sharp, salty and sour flavour so I think that makes it a reasonable alternative. It also called for Indonesian bay leaves, which aren’t easy to come by here, so I used curry leaves instead. We’d bought some puffed tofu on our shopping trip, so I couldn’t resist using some of that.
Indonesian peanut noodles
We’d eaten all of the mee goreng, so to accompany the stir fry I made a simple peanut noodle dish. You can use any noodles you like, but I chose dried ramen, or two minutes style noodles. We’d stocked up since the mee goreng. You mix the sauce ingredients together in a bowl, pour it over the cooked vegetables then stir through the noodles. Just be careful not to overcook your noodles, or let them sit too long before adding them or they’ll go a big gluggy.
Malaysian salt & pepper tofu
A good salt and pepper tofu is hard to go past. What I particularly like about this one, was not just how spicy it is (scale back on the pepper if you don’t like it too strong), but that it was baked in the oven (yay, it’s been fixed!), so the amount of oil used is minimal. Since discovering the extra crunch polenta makes to a coating, I decided to add some polenta to this, and yes, they came out really crunchy. Of course it doesn’t just have to be tofu, so I also used up the last of our tempeh and when I still had a bit of the coating mix left, chopped up a zucchini to throw into the mix as well. I think any softish, moist vegetable would work.
To go with the salt & pepper tofu I made a Malaysian stir fry, with the traditional ginger, garlic, chilli and soy sauces, plus some basil leaves for that extra burst of flavour. You just toss some of the tofu in at the end – if you haven’t eaten it all before then.