jeudi, mars 23, 2006

My Balinese Satay Lilit and Fried Pineapple Rice Thai-Style

On our last three trips back to Singapore, we took the opportunity to visit Bali at the same time since Hubby's fond of diving and Bali is a good spot to do so.

We usually stay in Sanur before spending a few nights in Ubud, though on Hubby's 1st trip there, we moved around the island, travelling from Sanur to Ubud to Tulamben, Pulau Menjangan, Lovina etc.

The charm of Bali for me is the fact that it's the only Hindu part of S.E. Asia left after the region converted to Islam in the 15th Century. (I often wonder how different things would be if the Majapahit Empire still existed...) Pictures of beautiful and sensual Balinese girls in sexy sleeveless tops (sometimes even topless) and hips-hugging sarongs always make me smile. The friendliness of its inhabitants warmed the heart and the beautiful hotels and villas to be found all over the island took our breath away.

On our last trip there however, I started feeling that maybe it would be time to visit somewhere else. With the terrorist bombings and maybe also the new Visa requirement, tourist arrivals were no longer as important as they used to be. And you could feel it in the hotels and markets. Not so crowded, you would say, but it had its downside.

I love a good bargain. It gets the adrenaline going and in a place like Bali, you often have something to show for it at the end of the day, like a tall wooden giraffe, a few silk sarongs, a wooden mask, a painting or 2...

But on my last trip, I actually had a local woman begging me to buy something from her. Because she had not had a single customer for a few days and the Balinese believe that if you manage to get one, the rest would follow. She was going to sell me some drawing at cost price - just for good luck. And I was sure she wasn't lying as I've just bought a less pretty drawing 50m away for triple what she was asking for (and I had bargained well in the other stall). She was in tears and I felt horrible. But should I buy something I had no need for just to feed some superstitution?

I finally did buy a little something from her. But I felt bad. These people depend very much on tourism. And when few tourists visit, not only is business bad, but whatever they managed to sell they had to sell at ridiculously low prices, often just to reduce their stock and cut their losses. I saw Asian and Caucasian tourists alike bargaining prices down really low, e.g. wanting to buy a nicely-made pair of slippers (with beads etc) for 2 bucks. It unsettled me. I really would be the last person on earth to refuse a good bargain, but I nonetheless feel that there should be some ethic to bargaining, that we should allow these people to make a decent living and not want to squeeze them dry. Especially since we are usually much better off.

Anyway, while we were on the nice beach in front of our hotel (Mercure Sanur), we were offered a cooking demonstration followed by a free dégustation of a tasty Balinese delight Satay Lilit. I've been dying to try it since that afternoon and am glad to have finally done so last evening.

My Satay Lilit last night, I didn't just use fish, I emptied my freezer and put Cod fish fillets, Black Tiger prawns, seafood cocktail (squids, mussles, shrimps, octopus...), even surimi all cut up into smaller pieces into a big bowl with salt, pepper, turmeric powder, ground coriander seeds, dried lemon grass powder and some lime juice.

Next, in a non-stick frying pan, I heated up some olive oil and started to brown 2 shallots, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 thumb-sized ginger sliced, 2 stalks of lemon grass bashed, 1 tsp each of turmeric powder, aniseeds, mustard seeds, ground coriander seeds. I also added a few ikan bilis, a little bit of belachan (shrimp paste), 1 fresh red chilli, 2 tbsp of dessicated grated coconut, a sprinkling of almond flakes (a bit inspired by the truite aux amandes), 2 tbsp of sugar, salt, pepper and coriander leaves.

Then I added the fragrant mixture to the seafood and mixed everything together. And I blended everything in portions with my small Philips blender (that I used to blend baby food for my babies with) into a paste.

In the cooking demo they wrapped the seafood paste around stalks of lemon grass and grilled them on a charcoal fire. When you see the price of airflown lemon grass sticks here in Europe, you'll not be wasting any precious lemon grass as fragrant decoration but use them liberally to make the paste instead. Besides, this is not the time yet (it snowed yesterday) for a BBQ.

So I just washed my hands, and started to grab bits of the paste with my right palm and just put them to grill on a hot frying pan. When they've been grilled on both sides, I took them out and started to skewer them on wooden sticks like a satay.

On the beach, we ate the Satay Lilit as it was but in my house I figured it would be best to serve it with some sort of rice. I thought the sweetness and freshness of a Thai Pineapple Rice might just do the trick.

First of all, cook 2 cups of Jasmine rice (optional : with pandan leaves) and leave it to cool. In a big frying pan or casserole, fry some thinly-sliced lapcheong (Chinese sausage. Though I've run out of it and did not use them this time) with some vegetable oil. Add in 2 sliced shallots or 1 sliced onion, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 tsp Curry powder, 2 tbsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of light soya sauce, 2 tsp of fish sauce, 1/2 cup of pineapple juice. Add the rice and mix well.

Make a hole in the middle of the rice and add in a little more oil to heat up. Crack 2 large eggs in the hole, add salt and pepper and scramble it. Mix the scrambled eggs with the rice. Sprinkle some rice wine or sherry over the rice, add in 150g of shrimps, a handfull of sweet peas and diced pineapple (from about 1/3-1/2 of the fruit) and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with some fresh coriander leaves and dried sweet pork floss before serving.

Hmm...Maybe that's where we should visit the next time we go home : Thailand.

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