Cooking Class Insider: Taking on Indonesian Street Food

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This post comes courtesy of Jenn Yee, a member of the Williams-Sonoma culinary team.

 

Vietnam. Indonesia. France. Mexico. This spring we’ve been traveling around the world through our cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma’s Union Square store in San Francisco.

 

In April, we took on Indonesian street food with hearty recipes that had plenty of spice. I cannot think of a better way to embrace a country’s culture than through the food. I was particularly fascinated by how much influence other countries’ cuisines have on Indonesian cooking. Take a look at our trip diary to see for yourself!

 

Menu:

Lamb-Filled Flatbread

Corn Fritters

Stir-Fried Shrimp Sambal with Brown Rice

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

 

We started the class with Lamb-Filled Flatbread. Originating in India, meat-filled breads are commonly served by street vendors in Indonesia. Here is a step-by-step look at putting them together — scroll down to the bottom of this post for the full recipe.

 

The dough was made from scratch with just four ingredients: flour, salt, ghee (clarified butter) and water. We formed balls and let them rest while we worked on the filling.
After the dough rested for 30 minutes, we rolled out each one very thin. Thinner dough makes for a chewier and crispier flatbread.
The ground lamb was flavored with garlic, ginger, jalapeno, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cilantro. The cooked lamb was spooned inside each rolled out dough.
Then the flatbread was folded over into a half circle, crimped at the edges, placed on a pan and cooked until golden brown on both sides.
A tray of flatbread with a bouquet of fresh cilantro.

 

What is street food without something fried? Our second appetizer was a platter of Corn Fitters. Corn was brought to Indonesia by the Spanish and soon became a staple in Indonesian cooking. To keep the fritters crisp and light, the recipe called for rice flour, which can be found at Asian markets. We created a spicy dipping sauce to serve on the side.

 

For our first of two main dishes, we made Chicken Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce. The chicken was marinated in a coconut cream mixture to help tenderize it. The peanut sauce contained galangal, a root part of the ginger family but milder in flavor and native to Indonesia.

 

In preparation for our second main, Stir-Fried Shrimp Sambal, we made the sambal in a spice grinder.

 

Sambal is a chile-based condiment often used in Indonesian and other Southeast Asian cuisines. It is most commonly served alongside the dish or, as did for this dish, incorporated into the stir-fry as a sauce to impart flavor and heat into the shrimp.

 

Our culinary expert Aaron J. Clarke served the shrimp sambal over steamed brown rice that was cooked in a stock flavored from the shrimp shells. Ground turmeric provided the beautiful golden yellow color.

 

We hope you’re inspired to try out Indonesian cuisine. Here is a recipe to get you started!

 

Lamb-Filled Flatbread

Makes 6 (half circles or 24 pieces when cut into 4)

 

For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. ghee or canola oil, plus extra for greasing and frying
3/4 cup warm water

 

For the filling:
2 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 Tbs. seeded and minced jalapeno chile
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 lb. ground (minced) lamb
1 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten

 

To make the dough, sift together the 3 cups flour and the salt into a large bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons ghee and use your fingers to rub it into the flour mixture until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal. Slowly drizzle in the warm water, tossing, gathering, and pressing with your hands to incorporate, until the mixture comes together in a rough mass. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5-10 minutes, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a neat ball. Rub the balls of dough with ghee, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

 

To make the filling, in large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chile, coriander, cumin, and turmeric and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Crumble the lamb into the pan and saute, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add the cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and stir to mix well. Let the filling cool to room temperature.

 

Brush a clean work surface with ghee. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, use a rolling pin to flatten it into a disk and then roll it out into an oval about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Using your fingers, spread the dough gently into a thinner oval about 6 by 10 inches (15 by 25 cm); it should be paper-thin, smooth, and elastic.

 

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the beaten egg onto each dough round and spread all over the surface with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle one-sixth of the filling on one-half of the dough and fold the other half over to cover. Fold in the edges of the dough and pinch to seal and enclose the filling. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat and brush with ghee. Working in batches, add the filled dough to the pan and cook until crisp and golden brown on the first side, about 5 minutes. Carefully turn and cook until the second side is crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Keep warm in the oven while you assemble and fry the remaining breads. Cut each flatbread into 4 pieces, arrange on a warmed platter, and serve at once.

 

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Asian Cooking (Weldon-Owen, Inc., 2009).

 

About the author:¬†Jenn Yee is a part of the Williams-Sonoma Union Square culinary team. The store is her dream kitchen. The Food Hall is her favorite section and can talk endlessly about baking mixes and bakeware. When not at work her every moment, not surprisingly, is still very much about food. She’s honing her skills at pastry school, attending food events, meeting chefs and vendors and out in search of the best pastries and desserts. She dreams of Pierre Herme macarons and Gerard Mulot croissants.¬†www.deliciouslynoted.com.

3 comments about “Cooking Class Insider: Taking on Indonesian Street Food

    1. Jenn Yee Post author

      Thank you! It was delicious with the peanut sauce. Hope you’re inspired to make it in your own home.

      Reply
  1. 11th stop: Indonesia | Street Food Galore

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