I have had the cookbook Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland, a James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner for Asian Cooking, for over a year now. The book covers traditional dishes from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore as well as comes with a fantastic geography lesson, spice index, endearing introduction, and more. Not until recently did I use it for more than looking at pretty pictures of semi-obscure ingredients and dreaming. I bought the book out of my desire to learn how to cook Indonesian dishes in an attempt to keep that small part of my ancestry alive.
“Wait, did she say Indonesian?” Yes, I did and I’ve even scrapped together a picture to prove it. The lovely Indonesian woman below is my Oma and the creepy little girl sitting on her lap is actually not a girl, but my father. 🙂
Having explained all that, the dishes I’m sharing with you today are not really Indonesian at all, but my poor attempt to create something Indonesian-like out of my ill-prepared inventory of ingredients.
The menu: yogurt marinated chicken, stir-fried baby bok choy, and coconut rice. The chicken didn’t even come from the cookbook. I marinated chicken breast in greek yogurt, red onion, pepper, salt, and chili powder overnight before throwing it on the grill.
The coconut rice was inspired by the book’s recipe for Nasi Uduk, a lemon-grass scented coconut rice made in Java and Indonesia. Without lemongrass and daun salam leaves, it wasn’t quite the same but the result was a fluffy, fulfilling rice that I can’t wait to repeat. In a nutshell, you use a cup less of water and add a cup of coconut milk instead when you cook the rice on stove top (DO NOT USE A RICE COOKER). I put a little crushed chili peanuts on top for texture.
Baby bok choy is one of my favorite vegetables right now. I’m a big fan of cabbage and baby bok choy may be the best variety. Inspired by the recipe for Tumis Sayur; stir-fried asian greens with garlic and chiles common in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, I took out my Ikea wok and stir-fried baby bok choy leaves with garlic, peanut oil, and salt. Don’t stir-fry too long because the whites of the bok choy tastes best while still a bit crisp.
All I got to say is that I look forward to more from this gem of a cookbook.