In a discreet townhouse in DC that serves as a catering venue, Elizabeth’s on L Street, one of Indonesia’s leading chefs came to explain his cuisine and prepare the type of gourmet lunch he does at Viceroy Bali’s CasCades restaurant. Chef Nic Vanderbeeken has experience cooking meals with a number of ethnic styles. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!
I learned that Indonesian cuisine has influences of several of its colonists/settlers: Chinese, Indians, Dutch. Each brought produces, spices, cooking techniques. Indonesia was an important destination along the Spice Routes and wars were waged over control of their spices. When you realize that most non-royals or aristocracy in Europe during the Middle Ages subsisted off of gruel for most of their lives, spices take on a whole new flavor! (Pardon the pun.)
Typical ingredients of Indonesia include India’s Garam Marsala, nutmeg, cinnamon, Salam leaf (you can substitute bay leaf), cumin, cloves, 3 kinds of ginger including galangal, cardamom, Kafir lime leaf, tumeric and lemongrass.
Lunch started out with an amuse bouche: duck breast slice with red chili from Indonesia, imported salad with jackfruit, a port-like wine, coconut and green beans.
This was followed by a bit of soup, Sop Bobor. It was a spinach and young Thai coconut soup with salam leaf, lesser galangal and a chickpea ricotta dumpling.
The appetizer was Cumi Kukus Dengan Saus Mangga: Grilled bumbu (a local spice mix) spiced baby squid with sweet and sour purple carrot, seaweed sand, black rice krupuk and mango lime emulsion.
The entree was Gule Kambing: Slow cooked cardamon ginger spiced lamb gule with sweet corn “perkedel”, green chili sambal, crispy and steamed yellow rice.
For dessert, there was the perfect for this hot weather Calalmansi Parfait: a rich calamansi (a lime crossed with orange) yogurt deconstructed parfait with raspberry, lime merengue, guava gel and sorbet.