Runny Cashew Chicken over Rice

Just a casual lunch among studying for PhD comprehensive exam. This fresh, made-to-portion, warm cashew chicken running down my rice really boosted my mood.

Garlic, green onions, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken, vinegar, brown sugar, Sichuan peppercorn, dried chili, sesame oil, sesame seed, salt, black pepper.

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Indonesian “Pecel” with Homemade Bawang Goreng

Indonesian pecel is  mix of blanched/boiled/steamed vegetable with savory peanut sauce containing ground shallots, chili, palm sugar, salt, and sometimes candle nut. With the obligatory kerupuk (Indonesian cracker) and bawang goreng (fried shallots), this dish brings multiple layers of sensations – freshness of the vegetables, richness of the nutty spicy sauce, added depth of the fried shallots, and crunchiness from kerupuk.

INGREDIENTS

SAUCE

  • Peanut
  • Shallots
  • Chili
  • Candle nut
  • Palm sugar
  • Salt

VEGETABLES

  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Beansprouts
  • French green bean

GRANISH

  • Shallots
  • Kerupuk

STEPS

  1. Blanch the vegetables in boiling water for 1-2 minutes until vibrant, strain
  2. Ground all the sauce ingredients and add boiling water until slightly watery
  3. Coat sliced shallots with flour, fry until golden brown
  4. Fry kerupuk until well-expanded
  5. Serve with a dash of sweet soy sauce (kecap)

How Competitions in US Food Science Career Are Admirably Open & Objective

I am grateful for the NEIFT’s graduate student most prestigious Suppliers Award this year, but this is mainly not about me. It is about the food-related sciences eco-system here in the United States that objectively supports students with resources, regardless you are an international student who will go back to your country.

NEIFT (Northeast Institute of Food Technologists) is a professional affiliation for food industry professionals. Like many institutions in the US they have this “give back” culture, which donators collect money to support individual students and student events.

Last year, I noticed my inspiring senior won this award and she wrote in the application that she wanted to go back to Turkey to teach. That gave me a clue that the committee is not necessarily give the awards just to recruit the awardees to the food industry here.

I received the award with the intention of going back to Indonesia in my application and they appreciated it.

This is a strengthening example after the IFT Thesis Video Competition that allowed an international student like me to represent the US IFT to go to the UK. Apart from many social issues that seem compromise newcomers and diversity, such objective culture in the US is something we all need to celebrate and learn from.

In addition, tempe seems to attract more attention. From what I shared about tempe in my application, the committee saw it interesting enough to conduct a talk in an upcoming event. The host even printed Indonesian Tempe Movement‘s how-to-make-tempe flyers and distributed it in the event.

I hope this will inspire people in terms of trying to openly share our own unique identity and passion beyond what we thought would be rejected. I am very grateful for this career ecosystem that can appreciate that.

I would like to congratulate Thanh P Vu, Weicang, Ruojia, and Tianxi from UMass Amherst who also received other awards in the event.

I want to thank my family for the support, my advisor Dr. Xiao, my recommender Prof. Colin Denis, my mentor Prof. Clydesdale and Dr. Lorraine Cordeiro, my inspiring senior Cansu Eek and William Dixon, and many more people that I cannot include.

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Home-fermented Indonesian fried Tempe / Tempeh

This is the mos beautiful thing I’ve ever made so far.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of dry soybean
  • Water
  • 1 tbsp of vinnegar
  • 1 pinch of Tempe starter (“ragi tempe” on eBay)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt
  • Sweet soy sauce

EQUIPMENTS

  • Large pot or sauce pan
  • Strainer
  • Kitchen towel
  • Plastic bag (punctured every 1/2 inch)
  • Frying pan

STEPS

  1. Soak soybean in a pot with 3 times amount of water overnight
  2. Crush soybean with hand until it splits and the skin floats
  3. Remove as much skin as possible
  4. Boil in 2 times amount of water for 1 hour
  5. Drain and spread the beans on kitchen towel and dry it until it’s dry to touch
  6. Remove it into a dry bowl, add vinnegar and mix well
  7. Add tempe starter and wix well
  8. Scoop the beans into plastic bag, making about 1 inch thick
  9. Put it on rack with good air circulation. Keep it in warm room temperature (~75 F or 26-30 degree Celsius).
  10. It’s done when it’s solid white, to stop the fermentation put it in the fridge (stop it as soon as you see some black spots)
  11. Cut and fry in oil until golden brown, sprinkle with salt and enjoy with sweet soy sauce.

NYC Culinary Trip: Still – Katz’s Pastrami Sandwich

A type of food that I would always go back for: cultural, barely impossible to make by myself, and exceptionally delicious. Not much to say, go taste it yourself – the moist, crumbly, spiced-crust, bright red, striking cuts of beef. It would make you doubt all the beefs you have eaten before or wonder how possible that it’s the same part of the same animal you’ve been eating all this time. Currently still on top in my NYC food list.

Culture: historical jewish immigrant-brought food preservation technology (such as brining, corning, etc.), ingredients (spices and herbs for meat crust and breads), American classic food stall.

Almost impossible to make: weeks of brining, bulk portions of beef, industrial grade of equipment to make the brisket-like char, hard-to-guess recipe.

Exceptionally delicious: melts and kicks in your mouth like no other beef.

Edible Gems of Bali: Suckling Pork Rice “Nasi Babi Guling” Sari Kembar

Suckling pork rice is a meal with almost all parts of a whole pork cooked and seasoned in different ways. It is a Balinese signature dish that resembles its traditional ceremony to cook a whole pork and also the ways Balinese construct their flavor preference from what is available in nature. I would say this is one of Indonesian cooking styles that would make your eyes glare widely and say ,”I never imagined such flavors exist”.

This specific “Sari Kembar” suckling pork rice is what I always crave outisde Bali for 16 years, not moved by the others. This is my favorite because it has whole rounds of dishes which none of them is too greasy: roasted and yellow-seasoned pork meats and fats, pork spiced satay, pork fried lungs, pork fried chopped ribs, crispy pork skin, and pork bone soup with banana stem. The side dishes are usually stirfried cassava leaves, a mixture of stirfried jackfruit-haricot-papaya meat, and sambal.

The whole meal provides a wide range of flavor variations but rooting to one typical character, which Balinese calls it a “full seasoning”: shallots, chili, ginger, kunci (fingerroot, Boesenbergia rotunda), galangal, turmeric, kencur, lemongrass, cloves, citrus leaves, and could be many more depending to each region.

Single-Origin Pea Berry Luwak Coffee in Indonesian-style Brunch

This is my first time trying a single-origin luwak coffee (pea berry), accompanied with some bites of fried banana/plantain like how many Indonesians have their snack or brunch time. The first time I opened the coffee container, I smelled something like no other coffee. If I’m to map the aroma, it was more like ‘scattering’. Just from its aroma you would notice there are lots of byproducts from the fermentation, making it rich and highly multi-dimensional, like a full circle. I could smell coffee’s disctinct ‘roasted’, slightly acidic and slightly bitter aroma, together with some mild and bold savoriness. There are also probably umami and kokumi that give the ‘body’, which was steeper than the deep body I tasted from the multi-origin luwak coffee I tried.

Single-origin luwak coffee is produced by processing coffee beans excreted from luwak after digestion (re: feces), which single bean type is selected before making it available to the luwak to eat.

Putu Cake / “Kue Putu”

Let’s take a moment to appreciate how artsy Indonesian putu is. Putu cake is aa steamed rice flour cake filled with coconut sugar and topped with shredded coconut. The seller usually carries the whole container and steamer on his/her shoulder, followed by the distinct whistling sound out from the small whole used to steam the cake. Putu seller usually has “klepon” as well, a chewy and round cake with similar ingredients, but with sticky rice flour instead of the regular one.

The Fish & Chips – Food Experience, United Kingdom



Another worldwide-known food from the UK. After investing my time googling the best fish and chips in London (ended up with Poppie’s in Aldgate), my heart was actually left at an unpredicted pub in East London.

Poppie’s fish and chips was amazing. You would notice that they use a mixed-flour batter, giving its crispy, savory, and rich bite wrapping the fresh flaky cod. A cup mushy peas marked the original taste of English fish and chips I guess with a bit of ‘greenish’ flavor. The only set back was the fries were not freshly fried.

Surprisingly, I like the fish and chips at The Fox (ExCel, London) better. Accidentally went there after Food Matters Live, the whole pub shaped the whole experience. The fish itself was delicious. The batter was crispy but lighter and porous, wrapping the fresh and flaky cod. The french fries were just out of the oil. The tartar sauce gave a rich texture and eggy flavor with some sparks of relish, while the sharp mushy pea finished the whole combination with its distinct flavor. A pint of cider and guiness, an Arsenal game on screen, the live music, and the whole pub turned all my senses on.

“Game Meat” – Food Experience, United Kingdom

Game meat: meat from hunting. I got two game meat dishes, one in Oxford and one in Chipping Campden.

 The game meat pie in Oxford was quite incredible, the sharpness of the venison, partridge, and pheasant meats were complemented by the light puff pastry. The meats came in a hearty thickened broth, which I could taste an accent of garlic, onion, and red wine in it. With a little dash of salt and pepper, it was perfect to scoop and gulp the whole thing down.

The second game meat I ate was a home roast venison. Again, onion, garlic, and red wine seems to play a role. But this time, the very tender meat was accompanied by some slow-cooked red cabbage, giving a distinct dimension of fruitiness. The thicker broth wets the smooth mashed potato well, made a combination of the very textured meat with the smooth potato. A local ale summed up the night, which closed with some cheeses (brie, stilton, sharp cheddar, and gruyere) and cream cheese cake – British does the cake first, and French the opposite.