Direct from the traditional home kitchens of Bali, Paon is a cookbook of true Balinese food and recipes. Sharing more than 80 dishes alongside essays and beautiful photography capturing the life, culture and food from across this widely beloved island, Balinese locals Tjok Maya Kerthyasa and I Wayan Kresna Yasa shine a light on the depth and diversity of Balinese cuisine, with insight into food and worship, sacred fare, and zero-waste cooking.
Used to season foods, this chopped base is a combination of quite a lot of roots and aromatics, which makes it earthy, complex and powerful. In short, it's a big-flavoured spice mix. Traditionally, the ingredients are finely chopped using a heavy-bladed cleaver called a belakas. More than a cooking technique, chopping is a spiritual practice of sorts that's deeply rhythmic, meditative and plays a big role in a range of food-based rituals.
If you decide to try the traditional method, use the heaviest-bladed knife or cleaver you can find. Bring the ingredients together as you chop them, using the blade to sweep or fold them towards the centre of the chopping board. When it is ready, it'll resemble a very fine salsa - you almost want it to look and feel like sand. You could use a food processor or meat grinder to save time; just be mindful not to over-process the spices into a paste.
200ml coconut oil
2 tbsp shrimp paste
70g palm sugar, shaved or finely grated
1 1/2 tbsp sea salt
500g red (Asian) shallots
250g garlic cloves
130g fresh galangal
70g fresh turmeric
6cm piece fresh ginger
60g freshly grated lesser galangal
90g tabasco chillies
10 lemongrass stems, white part only
10 candlenuts, roasted (see note)
2 tbsp whole white peppercorns, toasted
2 tbsp whole black peppercorns, toasted
2 tbsp cloves
2 tbsp freshly grated nutmeg
1. To make the spice mix, roughly chop all the ingredients individually, then finely chop them together to combine them. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a high heat until it reaches smoke point. Add the spice mix and cook, stirring continuously, for about five minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for about one to two hours, stirring every 10-15 minutes and gradually adding the water to prevent the mixture from sticking and burning.
4. Meanwhile, toast the shrimp paste in a wok or frying pan over a low heat until it is aromatic, about one minute. Set aside until needed.
5. Add the sugar, shrimp paste and salt to the base and give it another stir. You'll know it's ready when it's almost dark green in colour and releases an earthy fragrance. Set aside to cool. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three weeks.
Note: Candlenuts are waxy and have subtle, smoky undertones. They're used to thicken and bind spice pastes and not so much for their flavour. Most Asian supermarkets, organic grocers and good spice shops stock them, and you can also buy them online. You could also substitute them with their relative, the macadamia nut. Please note that candlenuts are mildly toxic when they're raw and should be cooked before consumption.
Makes 1.6 kg.
Babi genyol is pork braised slowly with base rajang. Genyol means to jiggle in Balinese, so the name of this dish reveals exactly what it is: pork that is fatty and jiggles in a dark, rich sauce. We've recommended using pork neck and belly for this recipe, but cheek works well, too.
100 ml coconut oil
450g Base rajang
1/2 tbsp shrimp paste
5 lemongrass stems, white part only, crushed
2 1/2 cm piece fresh ginger, sliced
3 1/2 cm piece fresh galangal, sliced
6 tabasco chillies, halved lengthways
1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp palm sugar
2.5 litres chicken stock
1kg pork belly, tough skin layer removed and cut into four equal square pieces
500g pork neck, cut into four equal pieces
steamed rice, to serve
fried shallots, garlic and chilli; to serve
1. Heat the oil in a large pot or rondeau pan over a medium heat for three to four minutes. Add the base Rajang and shrimp paste, and sauté for three minutes, stirring continuously to prevent the spices from burning.
2. Add the lemongrass, ginger, galangal and chilli to the pan and sauté for one to two minutes, or until fragrant.
3. Add the pepper, coriander, salt, palm sugar and chicken stock, turn the heat up to high and bring to the boil.
4. Once boiling, add the pork, cover with a lid or aluminium foil and reduce the heat to low. Cook for three hours, or until the meat is tender.
5. Remove the pork from the pan and place in a serving bowl, keeping the sauce in the pan.
6. To serve, slice the meat into 3cm cubes and spoon the sauce over the top. Best served with steamed rice and fried shallots, garlic and chilli.
Nothing says Balinese breakfast better than a brown paper bag full of godoh. These sweet, crispy fried bananas are almost universally recognised, and for good reason. The batter is light and super crunchy, the bananas become soft and richly flavoured from the heat, and when they're made traditionally using good-quality coconut oil, those flavours sing through, too. You can serve them the fancy way with Gula Bali syrup and a dusting of grated coconut, or you can dish them up as they are, plain and simple, with a cup of coffee.
700ml coconut oil
whole saba or ladyfinger bananas, cut in half lengthways
130g rice flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp santen (coconut milk)
2 tsp granulated palm sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1. For the batter, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. In a medium frying pan or wok, heat the oil to 150C over a medium heat. This should take about 10 minutes, but you can use a kitchen thermometer for accuracy.
2. Add the banana to the batter and toss, making sure the banana pieces are completely and evenly coated.
3. Slowly drop the battered bananas into the oil, one at a time, and deep-fry them for eight to 10 minutes, or until the fritters are golden-brown and float to the surface. Remove the fritters using tongs and place them on a tray lined with a paper towel to remove any excess oil. Eat when they're cool enough to handle but still nice and warm.
This thick, stringy coconut palm sugar syrup is good enough to eat straight up with a spoon. We pour it over everything from jaja (traditional cakes and sweets) and deep-fried bananas to roasted cassava, taro and yams. It's even great in tea or coffee. Different palms produce different flavoured sugars. Coconut palm sugar has a clean, almost savoury profile and is a darker brown than, say, lontar and aren palm sugars. For this recipe, we recommend finding a good-quality Indonesian coconut palm sugar.
300 g palm sugar, coarsely chopped
100 ml water
2 pandan leaves (see note)
1. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes, or until it becomes a thin caramel-like sauce.
2. Strain the syrup into a sterilised glass bottle or bowl and set aside to cool. Dip and drizzle away. The syrup keeps for one week at room temperature, or for up to two months in the fridge.
Note: Most Asian grocers sell fresh and dried pandan leaves, but we strongly recommend fresh. Frozen leaves can be used as a last resort, just make sure they're completely thawed before you use them.
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