One of our favorite sayings is "I bet Google knows." We say this when we don’t know something, or when are having an argument. Lately, Google has also been particularly useful in helping us find recipes for local cuisine. Sometimes our local cookbooks are confusing or misleading, and sometimes we just like to get a second opinion on a recipe. The problem comes from sifting through a whole bunch of Indonesian and Malaysian foodie sites. In the past couple days we’ve made an effort to find the best Indonesian and Malaysian food sites out there. Without further ado, here they are.
- Merry’s Kitchen has lots of good recipes. The directions are easy to follow, and as Merry did her undergrad and Kansas and an MBA at Golden Gate University, her English is flawless. Lots of good recipes for things like semur lidah (Ox Tongue in Sweet Nutmeg Sauce), and more tame things. Especially good for spice paste and sambal recipes.
- Kokkie Blanda is also good. Blanda means "Dutch", and Kokkie probably means "cook" in Dutch. At any rate, this site is more expansive than Merry’s Kitchen, but the names are all in Indonesian so you can’t tell what you’re going to get before you click it unless you know what the names mean. Plus, our Dutch cook has spelled all the Indonesian names in the old Dutch style, so dulu becomes doeloe and ayam becomes ajam. Annoying. But things are organized by type of dish at least, so if you pick what kind of food you want, you can just browse. The recipe for lemper (sweet sticky rice stuffed with chicken) looks excellent.
- Claudia Lum has some great recipes, but they are all in Indonesian, and some of the links don’t work.
- Dapur PInter is another good Indonesian language site with lots of deserts. It is heavy on Dutch-inspired and Javanese dishes, as well as having some recipes from the Outer Islands. Its name is a play on the acronym of the ISP (Pacific Indonesia) and the slang version of pintar, meaning "smart".
- The name of the site www.MalaysianFood.net says it all. It’s easily the best Malaysian food site out there. It breaks things down into five categories–Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian (mostly Portuguese) and Nyonya (or Straits Chinese)–and has good descriptions of every type of food in its historical context. Even if you don’t like to cook, it’s fun to read. Be sure to check out the recipes for Devil Curry and Rojak, which you can make at home in the US with little trouble.
- Kuali is the online food page for The Star, an English-language Malaysian broadsheet. It has some very good recipes, but it includes recipes for lots of different cuisines and the organization stinks. Under "Cuisine" you can jump straight to Malay or Nyonya food, or browse through the Chinese and Indian sections, which include lots of local favorites but also stuff you’re more likely to find in China or India than Malaysia.
- Mesra.net – Resepi has thousands of recipes that all look good. Alas, it’s also in Malay, and very slang-y Malay at that, so non-Malay speakers will be out of luck.
We also have some good news regarding ingredients. Almost nobody outside of residents of NYC or LA will have access to an Indonesian or Malaysian grocery store, but there are two sites worth noting. IndoMerchant will send Indonesian food right to your door from Los Angeles, and it won’t cost very much either. Their selection is great. You can get the little things like kecap manis and terasi and sale, and also weird ingredients like keluak (groundnuts), daun salam (salam leaves), and others that are impossible to find in the US. (Thai food lovers: they will ship you fresh kaffir lime leaves.) Most of the weird ingredients that we’ve listed in our recipes can be found here, for cheap. Regarding Malaysian food, you can visit the online store at www.MalaysianFood.net and get good things as well. You can even get Bah Kut Teh spices (see our recent recipe below), prepackaged!