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Indonesian foods to stock up during your self-quarantine

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Mon, March 23, 2020  /  06:07 pm
Indonesian foods to stock up during your self-quarantine

The world-famous beef 'rendang' can be made in large quantities and then stored in the fridge for a long time without losing its flavor or nutritional content. (Shutterstock/-)

Amid the alarming COVID-19 pandemic, people who self-quarantine are perhaps stocking up on instant foods and frozen products such as instant noodles, chicken nuggets and frozen sausages in their refrigerator.

However, there are actually many Indonesian foods that offer better options for stockpiling. Traditional dishes such as rendang (slow-cooked meat in coconut milk and spices), semur (stew) and sambal roa (fish chili paste) are not only long-lasting due to their combination of spices and slow-cooking technique, but also boast better nutritional value than the frozen, highly processed instant foods —and of course, they taste so much better.

Prior to serving such dishes, celebrity chef Ragil Imam Wibowo said that one should simply steam the frozen, pre-made Indonesian food.

“What's important is to steam the food to reheat it, afterward it's safe to fry, bake, grill, or boil [the dishes] to preserve their taste,” Ragil told kompas.com on Sunday.

The following are some recommended Indonesian traditional dishes that can be made in batches and stored for long-time use:

Rendang

The world-famous beef rendang can be made in large quantities and then stored in the fridge for a long time without losing its flavor or nutritional content. It was this particular durability that made the Sumatran dish popular among the Muslim community, as it was traditionally made as a food supply for pilgrims making the long journey from Indonesia to Mecca.

Corporate chef of Parador Hotels and Resorts, Gatot Susanto, told kompas.com that a well-preserved rendang could be a perfect food supply during self-quarantine. He recommended the food be stored in a vacuum-packed plastic bag first before being stored in the fridge. “It can make the rendang more durable as the food is stored in an airtight container."

To make beef rendang, the beef is cooked with garlic, onions, chili and many other herbs and spices in thick coconut milk for at least eight hours at a low heat until the milk evaporates, leaving tender and flavorful beef chunks smothered in a caramelized curd of oil and spices. 

A good rendang will have the spices and herbs infused into the thickness of the beef chunks. After it is cooked, the rendang can be stored in heat-resistant plastic bags and put in the freezer. If stored well, rendang can be good for at least two months.

Read also: Seven high-protein foods to include in your meals

Cakalang rica

This spicy fish option can last at least one month in good storage. Cakalang, or skipjack tuna, has solid, white flesh that can retain its shape during reheating.

You can use fillet of fresh cakalang or smoked cakalang to cook this dish. To prepare the dish in large batches, you start by deep frying the cakalang first. Afterward, you sauté the cakalang in a pan of sambal paste made of crushed garlic, three kinds of red chili (bird’s eye, curly red chili and cayenne), onion, lemongrass, ginger, tomatoes and salt.

After it is cooked, put the dish in a plastic bag, vacuum-pack it and then store in the fridge.

Sambal roa

Sambal roa is a Manadonese traditional dish that can serve as a condiment when eaten with kerupuk (crackers) or other protein such as fried tempeh and tofu. It also can function as nutritious protein when eaten with rice or fried banana as a full meal.

The dish is made with smoked roa (ballyhoo fish) flakes mixed with spices. It can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, or put in the fridge for even longer consumption time.

Semur

Semur is a typical Indonesian meat or vegetable stew with a thick, sweet gravy. The gravy is usually made with sweet soy sauce, shallots, onions, garlic, ginger, candlenut, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, coriander, cumin and cinnamon. 

Many kinds of protein can be used to cook semur, such as beef, chicken, hard-boiled egg and beef tongue. Vegetarians meanwhile can opt to have the notorious jengkol or stinky bean. 

Many add potatoes in the semur stew. However, when cooking semur for self-quarantine supply, you have to cook the proteins well first and half-cook the potatoes so that the latter won't be overcooked when reheated.

Gulai

Gulai (curry soup) is another popular Indonesian dish made with meat cooked in turmeric-infused coconut milk. Unlike rendang, in which coconut milk is evaporated and transformed into an oily sauce, the coconut milk in gulai is soupy and great for cold, rainy days.

You also can have many options for protein when cooking gulai, such as chicken, beef, lamb and innards.

Gulai can be stored in airtight containers and put in the freezer to preserve it.

Fried chicken

Unlike Western-style fried chicken in which the chicken is marinated and breaded, Indonesian fried chicken is made using the ungkep method. 

To cook chicken using such a technique, you put the chicken in a pan with spices, usually including turmeric. Add water, or coconut milk in many households, to the pan. Close the lid and cook the chicken at a low heat until the liquid evaporates and leaves the chicken in a thick curd. 

Chicken that has been cooked in the ungkep method can be stored in the freezer as a supply. When you want to prepare it for dinner, steam it first for defrosting and then deep fry it.

Soto ayam

Soto (aromatic soup) is the country's national soup that varies widely from the western to the eastern parts of the archipelago.

Soto ayam is chicken soup with spices and vegetables, good to eat with sambal and a little hint of lime juice.

You can make it in big batches and freeze it with the cooked chicken. When you want to prepare it for dinner, steam the soup with the chicken, and then put it in a soup pan for direct boiling. 

Serve the soup and the chicken in individual bowls with freshly boiled vermicelli and fresh vegetables such as cabbage, bean sprouts and celery. (gis/kes)

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