Cookbook 67: Indonesia and the Philippines

This cookbook, Classic Recipes, Taste and Traditions of Indonesia and the Philippines by Ghillie Basan, Terry Tan and Vilma Laus did not impress me.  There was potential, but a lot of it was wasted.  Many of the recipes called for ingredients that are difficult to find, the recipes were overly fiddly, and there are very few vegetarian recipes beyond street food snacks.  The recipes I cooked from the book were good enough, but not enough to make me ever want to go back to using this book again.  Two out of five stars.

Spicy Corn Fritters


  • 2 corn on the cob
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp grated fresh coconut or desiccated coconutu
  • 2 – 3 spring onions, white parts only, finely sliced
  • corn or ground nut oil for shallow frying
  • 1 small bunsh fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • shredded red chilli, to serve

For the spice paste

  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 25g fresh galangal or fresh root ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 – 2 fresh chillies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 candlenuts (or 6 macadamia nuts), crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

To serve

  • 1 lime, quartered
  • chilli sambal or sweet chilli sauce


  1. Put the corn on the cob into a large pan of water, bring to the boil and boil for about 8 minutes, until cooked but still firm.  Drain the cobs and refresh under running cold water.  Use a sharp knife to scrape all the corn off the cob; set aside.
  2. For the spice paste, grind the shallots, garlic, galangal and chillies to a paste using a pestle and mortar or an electric food processor or blender.  Add the candlenuts, coriander and cumin and beat well together.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a small woke or heavy pan, stir in the spice paste and stir-fry until the paste become fragrant and begins to colour.  Tip the paste onto a plate and leave to cool.
  4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Add the coconut and spring onions and beat in the corn and the cooled spice paste until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat a thin layer of corn oil or ground nut oil in a heavy frying pan.  Working in batches, drop spoonfuls of the corn mixture into the oil and fry the patties for 2 – 3 minutes on each side, until they are gold brown all over.
  6. Drain the patties on kitchen paper, then arrangement on a serving dish on top of the coriander leaves and garnish with the shreds of red chilli.
  7. Serve the patties hot or at room temperature with wedges of freshly cut lime to squeeze over them and a chilli sambal or sweet chilli sauce for dipping.

Notes on this recipe:

  • Australian corn is really sweet, so this ended up being more of a sweeter dish than expected.
  • I discovered you can switch macadamias for candlenuts when I looked up candlenuts on wikipedia.
  • I substituted ginger for galangal also.

Indonesian Fried Rice


  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 3 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 – 4 fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 3/4 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 4 eggs


  1. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds.  Cut the flesh into thin sticks. Put aside
  2. In a wok, heat 2 tbsp of the oil, stir in the shallots, garlic and chillies and fry until they begin to colour.  Add the kecap manis and tomato puree and stir for 2 minutes until thick, to form a sauce.  Toss in the rice and heat for 5 minutes until well flavoured and hot.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat the remaining oil over a medium heat and crack the eggs into it.  Fry for 1 – 2 minutes until the whites are cooked but the yolks remain runny.  Reduce the heat to a minimum while you quickly prepare the servings of rice.
  4. Spoon the rice into four deep bowls.  Alternatively, use one bowl as a mound to invert each portion of rice on to individual plates, then lift off the bowl to reveal the mound of rice beneath.  Place a fried egg on top of each and garnish with the cucumber sticks.

Notes on this recipe

  • Again, sweeter than I expected.  If I were to make it again I’d reduce the amount of kecap manis and add more tomato paste.  I’d also use the smaller, hotter red chillies so it had some bite.

Indonesian Fried Chicken


  • 12 chicken thighs or drumsticks
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis
  • 150ml water
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • sambal or pickle to serve

For the spice paste:

  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 50g fresh root ginger, chopped
  • 25g fresh turmeric, chopped
  • 2 lemon grass stalks, chopped


  1. Grind the spice paste ingredients to a coarse paste using a pestle and mortar or an electric food processor or blender.
  2. Put the chicken pieces in a large, flameproof casserole or heavy pan and smear the spice paste over them.
  3. Add the kecap manis and the water to the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minutes.
  4. Turn the chicken occasionally, until all the liquid has evaporated.  You need the chicken to be dry before you deep fry it, but the spices should be sticking to it.  Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a wok.  Add the chicken pieces, in batches, and fry for 6 – 8 minutes until golden brown and crisp.  Remove from the wok with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

Notes on this recipe:

  • Turmeric root, unsurprisingly, is hard to find.  We used about 10 g of dry turmeric and a dash of oil.
  • The liquid in this recipe did not evaporate after 25 minutes.  We had it on a low boil and there was still a lot of liquid remaining.  We removed the chicken and deep fried it at that point because we were hungry.
  • This was tasty, but a lot of work.