WHB #279: Pisang Bakar dengan Gula Aren dan Keju (Grilled Plantain with Palm Sugar and Cheddar Cheese)

Before moving to current address, I was living at Ciumbuleuit. Still in the north part of Bandung; less than a mile away from my home now. There, in Ciumbuleuit, is a private college where I studied Architecture for one and a half year. With number of students living in, it was no wonder that a lot of business began to grow in the street. And that included food.

One of my favorite was a little café named after bird's eye chili—only in Indonesian. Me and friends used to hang out there talking, playing cards, waiting for the sun to set while enjoying cup of coffee and plate of grilled plantains.

Grilled plantain with palm sugar and Cheddar cheese.

The grilled plantain was their specialties, and served in (slight) different way from any other vendors here in Bandung or in my hometown. It was sprinkled with palm sugar instead of chocolate, but still used Cheddar cheese. I claimed it to be the best grilled plantain I ever had.

Unfortunately, the last time I went to that place, their grilled plantain menu is off the table. But, fortunately, it is easy to make at home. Even simpler than 'a piece of cake'. All I have to do is grilling the plantain in a non-sticky skillet or a charcoal grill, sprinkling it with palm sugar powder and cheese, and, bam! I got a sweet creamy little dish for snack.

Grilling with non-sticky skillet.
Sweet and creamy little dish.
Sweet and creamy big bite. Yum!

Pisang Bakar dengan Gula Aren dan Keju
(Grilled Plantain with Palm Sugar and Cheddar Cheese)

  • 3 ripe plantains
  • 3 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar powder
  • 20 g young Cheddar cheese (thinly sliced, or grated)

Preparation methods:
  1. Heat the skillet (or charcoal grill) over medium heat.
  2. Smear butter onto the plantains, put it in skillet or grill. When grilling with skillet, use the smallest heat as possible. Cook it for 15 minutes each side, or until both browned to your taste.
  3. Put it in the serving plate, sprinkle with palm sugar, then top it with Cheddar cheese.
Yield 3 serves.

There are more food I had experienced in my glorious Ciumbuleit era. I shared some with my architect-slashed-chef friend, Ayesha. And, today is her day. May she be blessed with wonderful years ahead. (P.S. We really need to hang out in the kitchen sometime, dear.)

This post is also linked to Weekend Herb Blogging #279.
This week's WHB is hosted by Anh, A Food Lover's Journey. Read the full round up of superb recipes around the globe here.

This post is also linked to Simple Lives Thursday #39.
The food blog event is hosted by five awesome Iowa bloggers, Diana, Annette, Alicia, Wardeh and Mare.


WHB #278: Tumis Oncom dan Leunca (Sautéed Fermented Soybean Waste with Black Nightshade)

If you wonder why I post quite a lot (and will post more) of Javanese traditional food, it is because I am half Javanese descend. My father grew up in East Java, so did my mother. She even born there. So they brought Javanese culture into our eating habits.

The other half is Sundanese. My parent move to West Java more than 25 years ago and I was born and raised midst of Sundanese culture. I moved to Bandung, capital of West Java region, for college and reside here since then. (Actually, my father's mother is originally from Bandung too, before she moved to East Java with my grandfather and their children.) So besides Javanese, I also grew up with typical Sundanese dishes. And today, I will share some of the flavor for you.

Tumis oncom dan leunca.

Oncom is one of the traditional foods of Sundanese cuisine. Most Indonesian cooking books written in English referred oncom as fermented soybean waste.

Indeed it considered to be closely related to tempeh (fermented soybean). But instead of soybean, oncom is actually made from natural by-products of other foods. For example, soy bean tailings from bean curd making, peanut presscake from peanut oil making, cassava tailings from the starch extraction or coconut presscake remnants after the milk squeezed out. These wastes are then fermented using molds. Thus, said to be, increases the economic efficiency of food production.

There are two kinds of molds used in making oncom, Rhizopus oligosporus which produced black oncom and Neurospora intermedia var. oncomensis which produced red oncom. The reds are reported to be the only human food produced from Neurospora; and also able to reduce cholesterol levels.

Overseas, oncom is commonly sold in Asian Market under the names Textured Vegetables Protein (TVP) Mince, soya granulat, or soya mince. It is dried and need to be brewed before use. In fact, have no idea how it tastes, but it is said to be almost the same with the ones we consumed here in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, leunca (Sundanese term) is also known as buah ranti (in Indonesian) or black nightshade (Solanum nigrum). Here, this berry is popular for lalapan (fresh vegetable and fruit to be eaten with sambal), a kind of salad-like side dish; and to be cooked with oncom and chili.

Sautéed Fermented Soybean Waste with Black Nightshade
(Tumis Oncom dan Leunca, adapted from The Best of Indonesian Cooking)

  • 1½ tablespoons palm oil
  • 4 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 red chilies
  • 5 bird's eye chilies
  • 2 salam leaves
  • ½ cm galangal (bruised)
  • 15 g dried shrimps (soak in hot water)
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind juice
  • 150 g oncom (red or black, rinsed and ground)
  • 75 ml thin coconut milk
  • 50 g black nightshade
  • 1½ teaspoons chili paste
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of brown sugar
  • 25 g lime basil leaves

Preparation method:
  1. In a pan, heat oil then add shallot and garlic, chilies, salam leaf, galangal, dried shrimp, shrimp paste and tamarind juice. Stir until aromatic.
  2. Put in oncom, continue to stir until all mixed thoroughly. Add coconut milk and wait until sauce thickens.
  3. Add black nightshade, chili paste, salt, brown sugar and, lastly, lime basil leaf. Cook until sauce absorbed.
  4. Serve with rice.
Yield 3 serves.

P.S. This is also dedicated for the birthday girl, Arini (she's Sundanese too, so I think it matched). My wish is, may she.. learn to cook! :)

This post is also linked to Weekend Herb Blogging #278.
This week's WHB is hosted by Rachel, The Crispy Cook. Read the full round up of superb recipes around the globe here.


Onion Soup for The Cold

This morning I sneezed a lot, and ended up with a runny nose. Actually the symptom have lasted for quite a long time now and I've already paid a visit to a doctor. However, after I drugged all the medications as prescribed, the symptom persists.

Yes, I put chemical substances into my body (and cost myself a fortune) for nothing.

Probably it was resistance because I simply didn't believe chemicals could help. Oh well, isn't it always the way it worked? That was why I so did not want to take any more chemical drugs today. I'd better cook something to help me through this runny nose.

I remembered my housemate, Irna, once made an onion soup when she caught cold. She said it could warm her body and clear phlegm. This sounded like perfection. Besides, I've always wanted to try Jamie Oliver's onion soup recipe. So I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of Allium family. Onion, garlic, shallot and leek got moving into action..

Members of the Allium family, (back row from left to right) yellow onion, red onion, leek, (front row from left to right) shallot, garlic and pearl garlic (also known as single/solo garlic).

Cooking this soup turned out to be harder than I thought. Required a lot of ingredients, time and, of course, the part that I like the least, a lot slicing onions. The lachrymatory-factor gas of onions never failed making my eyes red and teary before.

Actually this problem can be solved with chilling the onions in the fridge for an hour or so before slicing. It'll help to slow the activity of the enzyme which produces the allyl sulfate that is responsible for eye irritation. It is also important to slice onions with sharp knife while standing, keeping the eyes away from the gas radar.

Anyway, I must say this slow cooker was the first non-Indonesian cooking that thrown me upside down. But the taste worth the wait, really. Nothing compares to the sweetness of caramelized onions combined with salt, croutons and bubbly melted cheese. Aside of the slight onion breath, the soup did freshen my body. Warm and happy!

Sweet and salty soup with bubbly cheese and croutons.

Onion Soup
(Adapted from Jamie at Home)

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 red onions (peeled, finely sliced)
  • 3 yellow onions (peeled, finely sliced)
  • 3 shallots (peeled, finely sliced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (bruised then chopped)
  • 6 cloves pearl garlic (buised then chopped)
  • 300 g leek (cut most of the green part, finely sliced)
  • a handful of fresh sage leaves, left some for serving
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 5 cm cinnamon
  • a pinch of fresh ground nutmeg (can be substitute with 1-2 blades mace)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • a great pinch of fresh ground black peppercorn
  • 1000 ml beef stock
  • 1000 ml chicken stock
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 medium baguette
  • 100 g Gruyère cheese (grated)
  • 100 g Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 8 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Preparation methods:
  1. In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil then add butter until melted.
  2. Put in red onion, yellow onion, shallot, garlic, pearl garlic, leek, sage, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and black pepper. Put the lid on, cook it down until caramelized in the lowest heat. Stir regularly.
  3. When onions are golden browned, add beef and chicken stock. Put the lid back and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
  5. Slice baguette into 2 cm thick.
  6. Mixed well crushed garlic with chopped parsley and salted butter, then spread it to the baguette. Bake for for 5 minutes to make croutons.
  7. When the onion is done, divide into 8 bowls (or cups, or ramekins). Put in the croutons and top with grated Gruyère and Parmesan. Add a sage leaf then drip one teaspoon Worcestershire sauce in each bowls.
  8. Bake until cheese melted. Serve while still hot.
Yield 8 serves.

Onion soup for the cold.

Back at Roman times, onion soup were seen as food for poor people, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow. The modern version itself, with croutons and cheese, was originated from the 18th century in French culinary.

Nowadays, a lot of studies have claimed that as little as two servings of onions a week have showed quite some health benefits such as cholesterol, blood pressure levels, diabetic heart disease and served a far more nutritious and vital purpose in a balanced diet. (Read more here.) Although some was not scientifically proven yet, thus this dish became more popular.

This post is also linked to Simple Lives Thursday #37.
The food blog event is hosted by four awesome Iowa bloggers, Diana, Annette, Alicia and Wardeh.

This post is also submitted to Souper Sundays.
Souper Sundays is a weekly food blog event about soup, sammie and salad, hosted by Deb from Kahakai Kitchen.

This post is also linked to I Heart Cooking Club: Happy Days with Jamie.
'This cooking club aims to grow and change with its members and explore other cooks and books in the future.'