I love the internet. If you are interested in culinary anthropology, for lack of a better way to put being interested in exploring other cultures’ cuisines, the internet provides a wealth of information. Sure I can read a book an American traveling in Indonesia has written about Indonesian food–I have those books, I love those books, and often they can help an American figure out how to go about replicating Indonesian food at home. I can also read a book written by an Indonesian chef with a restaurant in America–and the same applies. But reading a food blog written by an Indonesian home cook living in North Sumatra? That is just double the excitement.
It does present more of a challenge of course, when trying to replicate their dish. Some things you have to kind of guess at–maybe there is a language barrier, or maybe there is an ingredient barrier. Or equipment. For example, in this dish I made do without a wok. I realize that it is crazy that an Asian food lover such as myself does not have a wok, but what can I say, it is on my list of things to acquire and figure out (the seasoning, how to use on gas stove, etc). In the meantime I just try to make do.
So yes there was some “winging” involved, but I think my Claypot Pork Rice came out fantastically. A lot of said winging was on the fly, so I linked you to Jun’s recipe over at Indochine Kitchen, one of my favorite blogs, but alas her blog has disappeared. [After months of waiting to see if it would come back, I have finally removed the links.] I’ve had the dish pinned for a while, and I chose it for John’s birthday dinner this year (yay! nobody was sick for the first time in years!) where it was a huge hit, especially with the birthday boy. I used a stainless steel saute pan, loads of fresh mushrooms in place of dried, and arrowroot starch in place of tapioca. It was not until I read through the comments that I realized that Jun’s conical mold was not just for looks, but also for the actual steaming of the rice. So I made do with a pot with a lid, a steamer insert, and a bowl, and steamed it separately from the pork. I used my mom’s pickled red chile peppers for garnish, and I served a cucumber salad on the side.
We loved this dish and I am definitely going to start being braver about trying more recipes off of blogs written in other countries.