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  • Writer's pictureLouise Clarke

Indonesian Pork Curry And Other Comfort Cooking Journeys

With its huge Muslim population, a recipe for Indonesian pork curry may be an unusual way to start thinking about Indonesian cooking, but that is exactly my point.

I am not in the least bit worried about being authentic, but I am constantly consumed by a happy search for something delicious that I haven’t cooked before, and the aim of is to show easy ways to achieve fine dining at home, including at least a passing (and pleasing) similarity to flavours we once, in pre-COVID days, might have encountered through intrepid travel, or perhaps through an exotic meal on the high street.

We may not be able to physically travel far, but I am all in favour of comfort cooking journeys and the quick flip to far flung places which a bowl of, for example, Indonesian pork rendang curry can offer.

My Indonesian Pork Recipes

Although these recipes are not authentic, indeed I have cut out ingredients not easily available at my slightly sleepy local supermarket, as well as an overload of coconut, simply because I don’t much like it; however they are packed with spices and fresh herbs imitating Indonesia’s robust and vibrant flavours and I think you will find the results are not only delicious, but quietly and pleasingly confidence enhancing for the beleaguered home cook.

My first recipe for Indonesian pork is the king of Indonesian curries, a Rendang. Beef is usually used, but pork, lamb or goat can be substituted.

I stick to the same recipe whichever meat I use and not only will it fill your house with the most wonderful softly spicy fragrance, but the first time I cooked it (with beef) I thought it amongst the most delicious things I had ever prepared.

Pork Rendang

Beef Rendang

Unfortunately the list of ingredients is long, but please don’t let this put you off, after getting all the ingredients together (most may be in your cupboard) providing you have a food processor, the hands on time is fairly short.

Four chillies will give you only gentle heat, please use more if you wish. Fresh kaffir lime leaves do add something extra. They are available from Amazon and freeze well, but dried ones are on most supermarket shelves.

Indonesian Pork Rendang Curry

The paste:

3 onions, roughly chopped

50g peeled root ginger, grated

5 large plump cloves of garlic, peeled

4 chillies, seeds removed, roughly chopped

1 tsp. ground turmeric

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 tbsps. water

The curry:

1 kg pork shoulder, cut into rather larger chunks than usual

2 tbsps. vegetable oil

3 lemongrass sticks, split

5 pairs of kaffir lime leaves (use fresh if possible, but dried are fine)

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

1 400ml can coconut milk

1 tbsp. soft brown sugar

Salt and pepper

• Put all the paste ingredients into a food processor and whizz to a fine mush

• Brown the meat in the oil – I use a wok which has a lid – and set aside

• Add the paste to the same pan and stir around until it becomes fragrant and fairly dry, about 3 minutes.

• Pour in the coconut milk, add the meat and the remaining ingredients and simmer with the lid on for about an hour and a half (beef will take longer) until the meat is cooked and tender, but not yet falling apart. (If the meat is collapsing, remove it with a slotted spoon and keep to one side in a warm place)

• Remove the lid from the pan and increase the heat so that the sauce boils rapidly to reduce. Watch it like a hawk and stir to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan. You will notice that there may now be oil in the pan, which is absolutely as it should be.

• After a short time as the sauce reduces it begins to cling to

the meat and form the most wonderfully flavourful juicy crust on the pieces of meat, leaving the oil behind in the pan.

• Serve with rice.

The rendang will be even better the following day if kept in the fridge overnight.

Other Indonesian Pork And Chicken Recipes

We all know sate (or Satay) from the takeaway. Here is a recipe for Sate Tenderloin of Pork, or Sate Babi.

Usually sate is little bits of meat on skewers, this Sate Babi is slightly different as it uses whole pork tenderloin. Kecap manis is a delicious sweetened soy sauce which is a good addition to many other sauces both for colour and its slightly sweet flavour, so it’s well worth seeking out – try world food isles at your supermarket, or Amazon.

Sate Babi

125 ml coconut cream

4 tbsps. kecap manis (sweet soy sauce from the world food isles)

3 cloves garlic, grated

Juice of a lime, about 1 tbsp.

1 tenderloin of pork (about 450g)

80g peanut butter

• Put the coconut cream, kecap manis and garlic into a pan and simmer for 5 minutes

• Add the lime juice and stir to combine

• Put a double layer of foil into a roasting pan, sit the pork on top and spoon the sauce all over the pork. Now gather the foil together and pinch the ends and sides so that the pork sits in a pool of sauce held by the foil.

• Roast at 200c for 20 to 25 minutes, no more.

• Add the peanut butter to any remaining sauce in the pan,

bring up to simmering and add all the delicious juices surrounding the pork.

• Drizzle a little of the sauce over the pork and serve the remaining sauce separately so that guests can help themselves.

Lastly, I have a great little recipe for one of those nights when you really can’t be bothered to cook. It’s quick, hassle-free and full of delicious flavour. The amount of garlic and ginger seems huge, but you need it to balance the sweetness of the honey.

Indonesian Style Honeyed Chicken

5 fat garlic cloves, peeled and grated

60g root ginger, peeled and grated

100g runny honey

80g low salt soy

1 cm squeeze chilli paste (more if you wish)

6 large skin on chicken thighs, excess skin trimmed away

• Mix everything except the chicken together in a bowl

• Add the chicken and thoroughly coat the chicken thighs in the honey mix

• Line a baking tray with foil or baking parchment and sit

the chicken on it in a single layer, skin side up

• Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. The chicken should be

glossy and cooked through.


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