At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


As I write this, I am gnawing on bones. Specifically, the bones from some sweet little lamb chops that I got for lunch from Julie's Kitchen on Montgomery Street. Delicious. I sheerly love little bits of baa.
Mmmmm, lamb chops!
Had it with plakrijst, creamed spinach, and caviolini di Bruxelles.
[Julie's Kitchen, 250 Montgomery Street (at the intersection of Montgomery and Pine), San Francisco, CA 94104. 415-956-0785.]

If there are words in the text above that you do not understand, don't worry. This post is not about them. It is about four home-cooked dishes. Dishes which will appeal to the Indo-Dutch and Chinese among you, but are probably not appealing to Jews, Muslims, vegetarians, or people from the Midwest.

Treif, shrimp paste, spices.
If that does not scare you, read on.

Mixed vegetables cooked soupy with shrimp-paste.

Two Asian eggplants, two large green bell peppers; chopped coarsely.
Three to five roma tomatoes - peeled, seeded, and chopped.
Quarter to half pound chunked fatty pork.
Garlic, ginger, and Jalapeno, chopped.
1½ TBS shrimp paste.
1½ Tsp chili paste.
One Tsp each: paprika, sugar.
Half Tsp each: dry ginger, ground pepper.
Dashes dark vinegar and Louisiana hotsauce.
A squeeze of lime.
Half a cup rice wine or sherry.
Half a cup water or stock.

Layer in a claypot. Meat and eggplants first, then the bell peppers, with the tomato on top. Mix all other ingredients, pour over. Raise to boil, turn low and simmer half an hour with the lid on. Let sit briefly ere serving.


Mixed vegetables cooked soupy and tangy.

Half a bunch of leaf greens, one long Asian eggplant, half a bunch of long beans; all chopped.
One stalk celery, one shallot, thumblength ginger; slivered.
One Tsp each: shrimp paste, tamarind pulp, dark vinegar, Louisiana hotsauce, chili paste.
Two or three strips bacon, chopped.
One Tsp ground coriander, half Tsp turmeric.
Jigger of sherry or rice wine, pinch of sugar.
Two cups water or stock.

Put everything in a pot; raise to boil, turn low and simmer for half an hour. Wilt chopped fresh green herbs on top, then serve.


Scant-sauced curried chicken chunks.

Four chicken parts (about one to 1½ pound).
Two chopped shallots.
Garlic and ginger, minced.
One TBS ground coriander.
One Tsp each: ground cumin, turmeric, cayenne, sugar.
Pinches cinnamon powder, dry ginger, ground pepper.
TBS each: chili paste, Louisiana hotsauce, amber fish sauce.
Four or five Kamiri nuts, ground up.
One cup water or stock.
Jigger sherry.

Gild chicken, shallots, garlic, ginger. Add spices, stir till the fragrance rises, seethe with the sherry. Add the chili paste, hotsauce, and fish sauce; stir over low heat till it starts sticking. Now add the water or stock, stir the crusty bits to loosen, and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes more. Finish with some minced scallion and a squeeze of lime juice.


Simmered fatty pork with mushrooms and tomato.

One pound ng-fa naam (五花 腩 five flower fatty pork stomach), chunked.
A dozen black mushrooms (冬菇), soaked.
Three large tomatoes - peeled, seeded, chopped.
Coarsely chopped ginger and scallion.
Lemon grass stalk, cut in three lengths and bruised.
One cup water.
Heavy jigger sherry.
Dash soy sauce.
Generous pinch sugar.
A little black vinegar.

Brown the pork, decant the excess grease. Add everything else and simmer for an hour on low heat.


Palakpak: Handclap. Also soft-cooked vegetables with fish sauce. [01/22/09 reader A. Tamreng reminded me that 'palakpak' is also slang for what Lesbians do to each other. That, too, is derived from the original meaning.] Jalapeno: Mild Mexican chili often used green for a crisp and peppy taste. Shrimp paste: Haahm haa jeung (鹹蝦醬), a wet odoriferous glop available in jars on Stockton Street. Not the same as Malaysian Belacan, which is also an excellent product, or Philippino Bago'ong, which is chemically unstable and may explode in your larder. Chili paste: generically, a sambal. You could use the jar-sambal available from Huy Fong (who are famous for their SiriRacha hotsauce), such as their Vietnamese chili and garlic sauce, sambal oelek, or sambal badjak. Dutch brands of sambal are also available. But it is best to make your own by pounding ripe chilies to a pulp. Use Thai chilies or lantaka, and add a little liquid to facilitate grinding. Panggarap: Usually greens, eggplant, and long beans simmered with shrimp paste, pork fat, ginger, and vinegar. Tomato and turmeric can be added, or a fish cooked on top (ika panggarap). The term derives from 'garap'= shrunk by cooking, exuding moisture. Not to be confused with a similar sounding word, 'panggarak', which means the mob of angry Muslims erupting from the local mosque after the Friday sermon, whipped into a righteous homicidal rage by the local imam. Leaf greens: collard, chard, spinach, etcetera. Tamarind pulp: Available in Chinese and Indonesian food stores - look for asam, asem. Manok: Tamarao term for chicken, which is called 'ayam' in Indonesian. Tjeap: sauced, prepared with sauce. Kare: hot and dry spices, as used in South Indian, Ceylonese, and Indonesian dishes. Kui: Lumps, such as the butchered parts of food animals. Kamiri: Kemiri nuts, candlenuts. Aleurites moluccanus, called kukui in Hawaii. They are used to add body to sauces. If unavailable, a tablespoon of peanut butter or mashed walnut makes an admirable replacement. Su-ong: tangy stewed meat. Ba: Hokkien term for meat in general, but usually pork in particular. Probably a distant cognate of 'babui' (pig). Ng-fa naam: 五花 腩 - five flower fatty abdominal meat, also called ng-faa yiuk (五花肉). A cut consisting of alternating white fat and pink lean meat. Available on Stockton Street. Black mushrooms: Shiitake, Lentinula edodes:冬菇 winter mushroom, also called 香菇 fragrant mushroom. Usually available dried, they need to be soaked in warm water to soften. Discard the stem after soaking. Lemon grass: Cymbopogon citratus, also called Sere or Sae - a stalkgras with a pleasing lemon-like aroma used in South-East Asian cooking.


These dishes represent a triple transplantation: from Borneo before the war to Java after the pow camps, then with the repatriation of the loyalists to the Netherlands.
I ate these dishes there, and brought them with me when I returned to the US. They are Indonesian, but not really Indonesian. Think of them as food from a world slipped into shadow.

I have posted recipes of the same provenance before.

Rawon and Gangkiyap: (Javanese black soup and Tamarao potato and bamboo shoot curry);
Randangan Babui: (seethed fat pork - an artery clogger that your doctor will not want to hear about);
Bulelitja: (headhunting chicken).

Sanak mantep - eet smakelijk - bon gusto.

Labels: , , , , ,


  • At 11:07 AM, Anonymous A. Tamreng said…

    Ayao kayo! Mumkin kuwang lupa term itui, "palakpak", lugat-kaga pa puwan buk puwan. Bagemana enti taganotasitasi'te?

  • At 4:04 PM, Blogger Spiros said…

    Some of the tastiest foods come from "worlds slipped into shadow".
    I might be missing something, but how is Manok Tjeap Kare not Kosher?

  • At 4:09 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    I might be missing something, but how is Manok Tjeap Kare not Kosher?

    Quote: TBS each: chili paste, Louisiana hotsauce, amber fish sauce.

    Envision a long disquisition on the manufacture of patis, bulatjong, and similar fine products, in which the issue of snapper ve kaskeses is prominently featured.....

  • At 9:57 PM, Blogger Spiros said…

    Might anchovy be used as a substitute?

  • At 8:51 AM, Blogger Tzipporah said…

    Spiros, we do lots of kosher (and sometimes vegetarian) replacements for seafood treif, and although a purist would probably quibble, we think they come out great. The trick with fish sauces is to get the right consistency and complementary flavours, as well as the general fishiness. Sometimes that requires a tad extra vinegar or sugar, or occasionally a small piece of turkey bacon in a meat dish to get smokiness.

  • At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It all sounds Greek to me.

    ---Grant Plato-pusss

  • At 6:34 PM, Blogger DEATH BY NOODLES said…

    Of course it does, Grantipuss. You probably don't cook much.

    To me it all looks very likely nice. I'll probably try making these dishes soon.

  • At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "A world slipped into shadow"

    Poetry, man.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older