Friday, December 7, 2012

Shallots and Garlic

Shallots and Garlic. In Indonesia, we may have heard a traditional folk story named before them (Bawang Merah & Bawang Putih). How come they become so famous? I may define them as staple of my cooking spices.

When I was young, I always notice that both of them were prepared in batch. Our house helper always blend them (separately) every day and keep it in containers for cooking in the next day. At home, we always keep one jar of fried shallot at home.

I remember that our family grocery shop always supply them, and in certain period close to Idul fitri or Christmas, their price will increase due to very high demand in every household.

On the earlier days of cooking, I always ask my mom about some our home simple recipes, like "How to stir fry veggies?", "How to make corned beef soup?", and "How to make omelet soup?". I notice that shallot and onion never been absent in the ingredient list. Sometimes both were used, sometimes only one of them.


peeled garlic and shallots

Then, here come the ultimate question:

"When should I use garlic and when should I use onion?"

My mom gave me the basic rule about them:
1. When you want to cook vegetables, use garlic only.
2. When you want to cook meat and egg, use shallot only.
3. When you want to cook both meat and vegetables, use both.

=D simple right?

I've tried once, stir fry veggie without garlic.. and I promise myself won't do that again.. Although I have put salt and pepper, it just doesn't taste nice at all. I think it taste better to stir fry vegetables without salt but with garlic.

I've tried making perkedel (fried mashed potato with ground beef) without beef and use fried shallot only, and it taste as close as with meat perkedel.

I've cook fried rice with minimum garlic and shallot, and it taste weirdly bland. I cannot explain why..

From those experience I begin to understand the reasons both garlic and shallots are always been prepared in our kitchen. I understand why the price may fluctuate in certain period of time. Although in actual prepared dish, we might not clearly notice the presence of garlic and shallot, I believe they play a significant rule in creating a good taste of cooking.

Me myself now:
  1. I dare not to cook without both of them, extra shallot and garlic always ready in my cooking shelf.
  2. I keep extra fried onion in fridge for last touch up of certain meal. I called it a healthy substitute of MSG.

It seems that I've started to pick my family kitchen tradition with shallot and garlic ^_^
By the way, after some search in Google, I found out that both garlic and shallot have amazing benefits for our body. Now I love them even more.

Is there Anyone want to share with me about your experience with garlic and onion? I know some of you may hate them, and some may love them as I do.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chicken Veggie Soup


Soup time! It's the simplest type of meal that people can cook. Now I want to make it more complicated. Read to the end, try, and you'll know why. ^_^

Tools:
Frying pan or wok
Spatula
Ingredients:
Chicken breast - 1 pc
Carrot - 1 pc
Lettuce - 1/2 pc
chopped/cliced Shallot - 3 clove
chopped/sliced Garlic - 3 Clove
Salt & pepper
Cooking Oil - 2 tsp
Chopped coriander - optional (* daun sup)
fried shallot - optional (* bawang goreng)
water


Steps:
  1. Cut All vegetables and chicken into desirable size.
  2. Heat oil, saute garlic and shallot until change color to light yellow.
  3. Put chicken and stir until cooked, add 1 pinch of salt and stir again.
  4. Put carrot and stir until it change color into lighter yellow. Remember, smaller carrot size means lesser time to cook.
  5. Put water as many as you want and cook until it boil. Do not over flooding your pan, sice the water need space to boil as well.
  6. Mix Lettuce together with the earlier mixture until it slightly soft.
  7. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. You need to taste the saltiness of spiciness of the soup to know.
  8. Put last ingredients: coriander leaf or fried shallot.

Note:
  1. Chicken breast might be replace by other part of chicken. But you have to take note, chicken breast is healthier than other. I prefer chicken breast because it has more meat and less bones and skin (yes, i dont like skin).
  2. The purpose of sauteing meat with garlic and shallot is to enhance the soup aroma and create a firmer outer side texture of meat.
  3. Actually the easiest way to make soup is to throw all ingredients inside the boiled water, but i prefer to do this way because of the better aroma of soup and the whole cooking experience =)


Please share with me, what type of soup you normally cook?
do you saute the ingredients first or you do the steam boat type of soup? which one do you prefer?


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cooking Nasi Goreng : Basic

A simple menu that I'll miss when away from home and away from Indonesia is Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice). Some chinese or malay or even indian food stall in Singapore may serve fried rice as well, but It's just different from what I normally have at home.

Cooking Fried Rice is a tricky yet fun for me. I can cook with 101 possibilities, mix and match the ingredients we have in fridge, I can cook left over rice, and it's a meal that you can eat without any additional dish.

You may find the ingredients are too many or maybe you don't have all in your fridge. Dont worry, it's just a basic recipe and you may modify it. However, some ingredients may be significant in creating a homy taste Nasi Goreng.

Here we go!

Tools:
  1. Wok or non-sticky pan
  2. Cooking Spatula
  3. Knife
  4. Chopping Board


Ingredients:

  1. Cooking oil -- 7 tbsp
  2. Chopped Garlic -- 2 tbsp or more
  3. Chopped Shallot -- 2 tbsp or more
  4. Meat: Frozen chicken sausage -- 4 pcs
  5. Vege.: Carrot -- a half carrot
  6. Light soy sauce -- 3 tbsp
  7. Sweet soy sauce -- 2 tbsp
  8. Tomato sauce -- 2 tbsp
  9. Salt -- 2 pinch
  10. Left over rice -- 1 full plate
  11. Egg beaten-- 2 pcs
  12. Chopped spring onion -- 2 stalk






Steps:
  1. Prepare pan/wok on stove and turn on fire. Make sure there is no water drop on pan before pour the cooking oil. Water an oil only in a hot pan is not a good combination for cooking.
  2. Heat oil, then put shallot and garlic as soon as you think that the oil is hot. Do not let the oil produce smoke, it means you will burn the shallot and garlic immediately.
  3. Put chopped carrot and sausage. If you prepare raw meat, cook it first before combine them with carrot.
  4. Stir until carrot change color into slightly lighter color. Put light soya sauce, rice, sweet soy sauce and tomato sauce. Stirr well until the rice mix evenly with all souce.
  5. In this stage try to put a small fire, since rice will get burnt easily. Do not tempted to add any water if they do not blend easily. Keep stirring, take your time. Turn off the fire if needed.
  6. Put salt and pepper. Stir again for a while.
  7. Pour beaten eggs on the outer line of fried rice (as shown in picture). In this moment, stop stirring the rice, an observe until the eggs slightly cooked and solid, then start to mix again.
  8. Taste your fried rice, if it's not salty, you may add salt or light soy sauce accordingly.
  9. After everything is done, put spring onion on last step. Some of you may hate spring onion and think that it's not significant. But believe me it does contribute to the fried rice perfection. Stir again until the spring onion mix well in the rice.


Tips:

  1. Try you best to use left over rice. If you only have just cooked rice, cool it first before using. Do you know what is the effect? :)
  2. Do not use too little oil, it will give you problem in mixing all the ingredients. If you're a health conscious people and want to avoid oil, do not eat fried rice. Btw oil is good to dilute vitamin A in carrot :)
  3. I think the main difference between indonesian style fried rice and others are the amount of shallot, garlic and the sweet soy sauce. Please have these ingredients to make a nice nasi goreng.
  4. Amount of ingredient is important for balance of fried rice, but the most important thing in cooking fried rice is the sequence. The best sequence that i know in cooking fried rice so far is this one. Some prefer to put eggs in earlier stage, but i prefer to put later.
  5. Keep cooking and you'll know which sequence or amount of ingredient is suitable or which ingredient you may omit.
  6. Mixing rice and those ingredients are sometimes frustrating for beginners. So I suggest to start with 1-2 portion only. Btw my recipe is enough for 2 persons or 3/4 small portions. Use loose rice and put wok in low heat to make stirring easier.


The Fried Rice fail? Dont worry, I was there before.. :)
It wont taste that bad because self cooked food will taste better ^^

Please share to me you experience or experiment in cooking fried rice. I'll be happy to hear from you.

First timer and have any problem? Please share, me or any of reader may help you to solve the problem.

Happy Cooking..!








Friday, November 9, 2012

Cooking Steam Rice : Basic

As an Indonesian, steam rice is a compulsory  item in my meal. Some of you maybe cannot imagine how come rice is a must in a meal. Noodle might be treated as dish, and burger set only a brunch or tea time portion. I also cannot explain why. But most of Indonesian, or some Asians will feel that they never took any meal if they don't have rice. Therefore, in my first post I'll briefly write a post how to cook that simple steam rice.

I'm sure if you are sticking to read my post, you are either never steam rice before - this is your first time cooking steam rice or just curious about my writing in this blog *grin*

Tools:
  1. Rice cooker
Ingredients:
  1. Normal Plain Rice   -- 2 cups
  2. Water  -- adjust
Steps:
  1. Measure 2 cups of rice and pour into rice cooker pot.
  2. Clean the rice grain from unwanted materials, like tiny stones, rice skin, etc.
  3. Rinse rice grains with water twice.
  4. Add clean water to the pot up to the 2 cups marking.
  5. Cook rice until the rice cooker lever move to 'reheat'.
  6. Steam rice is ready for 3 portion.
Notes:
  1. If you do not have any measuring cup, just use any amount of rice that you need, and pour water in the last step until reach about 2 cm from the rice surface.
  2. Result may be vary due to amount of water and type of rice. You may adjust the soft-hard level of cooked rice according to your preference. Less water for harder texture, and more for softer/more moisture.
  3. If you want to cook brown rice or non-polished rice, please soak the rice grain at least 1 hour before cooking. Left rice to soak overnight will also work. Put more water since these type of rice will absorb more water. Otherwise, using this recipe will result into hard texture of rice.
  4. Do not use glutinous rice (beras ketan in Bahasa Indonesia) , it will end with different result (sticky). In case you are not familiar with how sticky rice looks like, it is whiter than other rice. Normal rice looks a bit translucent compared to glutinous rice.
(feel free to ask if you have any question and I will try to respond as soon as i can)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our Cooking Lab


OurCookingLab is my place to share my cooking experience especially for the beginner out there.

The idea behind naming 'lab' to this blog is to encourage all of us to keep learning and improving our cooking skill regardless how low or high we're now. Feedback and tips are warmly welcomed in every corner of this blog.

For me, cooking not only for the sake of cooking and eating itself. It is one of my form of enjoyment, relieving stress, socializing with family and friends, or simply to expand our creativity and knowledge about food process and its ingredients. Hopefully this blog may motivate and inspire you to start a 'kitchen lab' and cook by your own.


Thank you for visiting Our Cooking Lab. Please leave a comment and follow my posts by Email.
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