Great Ocean Food: Travelling to Bali

July 23, 2020 BY

This week, my COVID travel takes me back to Bali.

I have only visited the Indonesian island once, but I know many people in our region have frequent holidays (particularly surfing) in that neck of the woods. Despite exaggerations of my surfing prowess to my wife, I spent more time in the restaurants of Bali than on the waves. In fact, we did spend plenty of time at the beach, but mostly at the well-resourced beach clubs with restaurant and bar service. It was a family holiday and our one rule on holidays is, within reason, do whatever you like and make sure you enjoy yourself.

So, while some members were shopping or relaxing by the pool, I was exploring the culinary landscape of Seminyak, Uluwatu and Jimbaran Bay. I soon discovered there are a plethora of other places to see in Bali, but this was my introduction. Many of you reading will be familiar with Potato Head, Ku De Ta and The Legian. All spectacular places to eat or simply to watch the world go by, but my favourites were Sarong and Mama San.

Sarong was fine dining at its best. The abundant space and attentive, but not overbearing service made for a delightful ambience. The food had complex flavours delivered with a deft touch. The soft-shell crab salad with peanut tamarind and chilli dressing was a standout.
I stayed away from most of the Warungs or street food vendors knowing a bout of Bali belly would ruin the holiday but could not resist sampling the chicken satay cooked over charcoal. The scent of grilled chicken marinated in spices was a temptation I could not withstand and reminded me of picnics as a boy. My father would cook lamb chops on an open fire in a wire grilling basket.

Who would think that cooking over an open fire would become the hottest (excuse the pun) culinary trend? I am sure even master fire chef Aaron Turner from Igni would have enjoyed the satays and lamb chops.

Simon Goh’s Satay

Half onion, diced
Half lemongrass stem, white part only, finely diced
Half teaspoon curry powder
1 clove garlic, crushed
Half teaspoon finely diced fresh turmeric
Pinch of paprika
2 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt or to taste
500g chicken breast cut into 2.5cm cubes
16 bamboo skewers, soaked in water overnight
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cucumber, peeled and cubed

Satay sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lemongrass stems, white part only, finely chopped
2 dried red chillies, reconstituted in water
60ml peanut oil
Pinch of paprika
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
80g peanuts, coarsely ground
125ml water
125ml coconut milk
Pinch of salt or to taste
1 tablespoon sugar

To prepare the skewers, grind or blend together the onion, lemongrass, curry powder, garlic, turmeric and paprika to a paste. Add the sugar and salt and mix well. Add the cubed chicken mix thoroughly and leave covered in the refrigerator overnight.
To make the satay sauce, use a mortar and pestle to pound the onion, garlic, lemongrass and chillies until a paste forms. Alternatively, you can use a blender. Heat the peanut oil in a small saucepan and cook the paste over medium–high heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Stir in the paprika, curry powder and turmeric. Add the peanuts, water and coconut milk, and bring slowly to the boil while stirring. Add the salt and sugar and simmer for around twenty minutes until the oil has risen to the surface. Set aside (the sauce will be served at room temperature).
Light the barbecue and while the charcoal is heating, thread about three pieces of meat on each skewer. Brush the meat with oil (you can use a brush made from lemongrass) and grill on both sides for about five minutes until lightly charred. Serve with steamed rice and satay sauce.

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