Challenge Chef faces in cooking Indonesian dishes
One of the challenges in recreating Indonesian cuisine in modern restaurant kitchen, according to chef Michael Whyag of Oh Ham Retreat in Tirta Tawar Ubud, lies in conversion. That's because most commercial chefs are trained in French way of cooking, while Indonesian food, as well as many other Asian cuisines, are cooked using quite different methods than French cuisine does.
While the challenge to adjust the cooking method might be minimum, there is also a challenge in the cooking process, and this is the harder one. Modern kitchens are built according to French cooking standard, which requires different set of cooking tools than Indonesian traditional kitchen needs. For example, many Indonesian dishes require mortar and pestle to prepare the spice paste, that upon recreated using the electric blender in modern kitchen, usually resulted in less flavorful compound. This is also the reason why on many modern Indonesian houses, you will still often find the mortar and pestle, regardless that it might also has an electric blender or even food processor.
The challenge in cooking style and tools therefore, makes the most of what chefs can do with a French kitchen is a "feels like" kind of food, where those Indonesian menu that can be reproduced using French cooking technique usually achieves a good reproduction result, like Sop Buntut (Oxtail soup) which makes Borobudur Hotel in Jakarta famous for it. While those that requires specific traditional preparation, or requires traditional cooking tools, often achieves only a so-so performance. (byms)
About author: Bayu Amus
Bayu Amus is a gastronomic storyteller and Food Experience designer. He pens food articles for travel magazines, speaks on food events, and was part of the team who compiled Makansutra Indonesia 2013, the pocket book which showcases Bali’s best street food. Contact him through firstname.lastname@example.org