Nasi Goreng with Kang Kung, Chicken and Prawn Sate and Tomato Sambal


Indonesian people eat rice three times a day. No wonder they are the geniuses behind this delicious dish. You can serve it as simply or as complicated as you like, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, anything goes; just like life in Indo…

I’ve visited Indonesia three times over the past twelve months and am hoping to get back there soon to skip a couple of the cooler months here in Aus. Now that I have explored quite a bit through most of the islands, this time I’m looking forward to staying in one place for a couple of months and really getting to know the place, the people and learn a lot more about the food.

A lot of Indonesian food is cooked using copious amounts of oil and palm sugar, and MSG is common. I’m keen to adapt some common Indonesian recipes into some healthier versions with less oil, less palm sugar and definitely no MSG. There are so many beautiful fresh and tropical ingredients there, it won’t be hard to do.

Here is a recipe for my version of Nasi Goreng with a few yummy things alongside. The Kang Kung (water spinach) dish is definitely one of my favourite Padang choices. To make this dish vegetarian, omit the prawns from the rice, use tempeh for the sate and omit the fried anchovies.


Recipe (serves 4-6)

Tomato Sambal
1o0ml rice bran oil (or other veg oil)
200g eschallots, peeled and diced
100g garlic, peeled and crushed
100g ginger, grated
400g long red chilled, diced
300g birds eye chillies, diced
2 lemongrass stalks, white and pale green part, sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves, sliced
2 tbs dried coriander seeds, crushed
60g palm sugar, grated
2 tbs shrimp paste, roasted
2 x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the eschallots and garlic and cook until soft. Add the ginger, chillies, lemongrass, lime leaves, and coriander, cook for a further few minutes. Add the palm sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar starts to caramelize.
Add the tomatoes and cook until soft and reduced, about 10mins.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Puree the sauce using a large mortar and pestle or blender. Add the lime juice and salt to taste.
Keep in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Or freeze.

Nasi Goreng
80ml rice bran oil, plus extra
100g eschallots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
200g cabbage, chopped
300g prawn meat, chopped
1/4 cup tomato sambal, plus extra to serve
5 tbs soy sauce
600g cooked rice, chilled (from 2 cups raw)
100g baby spinach
salt to taste
4-6 eggs
Fried shallots
Crispy fried anchovies
Krupuk crackers (I used ones made from taro)
2 Fresh tomatoes, quartered
1 small cucumber, sliced
Lemon basil
Heat the oil in a large wok over medium high heat. Add the eschallots, garlic and carrots and cook until soft. Add the prawns and cabbage and cook, until cabbage is soft and prawns are cooked.
Add the sambal and soy sauce and cook for a further few minutes to reduce some of the liquid.
Add the rice and spinach and cook, stirring for a further 5 mins.
Add salt to taste.
Heat extra oil in a frying pan over high heat. Fry the eggs until white is cooked and yolk is still runny.
Serve the rice in a mound (you can use a cup to mould it), top with the fried egg, shallots, anchovies, some extra tomato sambal, krupuk crackers, the tomato, cucumber and lemon basil, and whatever else you choose to serve alongside (I also served Kang Kung and chicken and prawn sate, recipes follow)

Kang Kung (spicy water spinach)
2 tbs rice bran oil
4-6 eschallots, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
4 long red chilles, halved, de-seeded, and thinly sliced lengthways
1 birdseye chilli, finley chopped
2 bunches water spinach, washed, trimmed and chopped into 10cm lengths
2 tbs oyster sauce
2 tbs kecap manis
2 tbs soy sauce
salt to taste
In a large wok, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the eschallots, garlic and chillies and cook, stirring, until soft.
Add the water spinach and sauces and cook, stirring, until spinach is wilted and reduced, about 5mins.
Add salt to taste.

Chicken and Prawn Sate
Rice bran oil
600g chicken thigh, cut into 2cm cubes
12 large green prawns, peeled, tail left on
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs tomato sambal
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs kecap manis
5 tbs palm sugar
Small bamboo skewers
Place the chicken in one bowl and the prawns in another. Add the 1/4 cup sambal, 1/4 cup kecap manis and 3 tbs of the palm sugar to the chicken. Add the 2 tbs sambal, 2 tbs kecap manis and remaining 2 tbs palm sugar to the prawns. Stir each well, cover, and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.
Thread about 5 pieces of chicken onto skewers, and one prawn each per skewer with the tail pointing away.
Heat the oil on a grill pan to very hot and smoking. Carefully add the chicken skewers and cook, turning, for about 5-8 mins or until cooked through and caramalized, adding the prawns in the last 3 mins of cooking.



Sticky Spiced Apricot Chicken with Quinoa and Stone Fruit and Feta Salad

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Who doesn’t love sticky, finger-lickin good, chicken wings? This is a versatile recipe, as you could serve it as a weeknight meal with the family or you could cut the wings into thirds, adjust the cooking time to a bit less and serve them as a yummy finger food at your next barbecue. I love the stone fruit, feta and red onion combination too, it’s punchy and exciting. This is a great summer time recipe, bright and cheerful!




12 whole chicken wings

2 tbs fresh ginger, grated

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 tbs worcestershire sauce

3 tbs oyster sauce

4 tbs soy sauce (use gluten free soy or tamari if necessary)

1/2 cup apricot jam

2 tsp chinese 5 spice powder

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1/2 tsp pepper

A few good handfuls of mixed mesculin leaves

2 apricot

1 peach

1 nectarine

1 plum

Handful each of parsley and mint leaves, roughly torn

100g firm feta

1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

light olive oil

white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Cooked quinoa and lemon wedges to serve


In a large non-reactive dish (glass is good), combine the ginger, garlic, worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, apricot jam, chinese 5 spice, chilli flakes and pepper. Add the chicken and use hands to thoroughly cover with the marinade. Cover with cling wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hrs, but overnight is much better.

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Arrange the chicken in a single layer and cover with foil. Bake for half an hour. Remove from oven, remove the foil and drain any liquid from the tray. Brush the chicken with some of the liquid and return to the oven without the foil. Cook for another 20-30mins, brushing with the liquid every 5mins.

For the salad, on a large platter, arrange the lettuce, fruit, herbs and onion and crumble over the feta. Drizzle with a little of the light olive oil and white wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken with the salad, cooked quinoa, lemon wedges and any leftover sauces from the cooked chicken.



Thai Apple Eggplant, Chicken and Cashew Curry

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Just a quick mid-week post here to share this tasty curry. It’s one of those recipes that is so lovely to make if you’ve got a quiet afternoon to yourself (rare at this time of year), to spend some time hanging out in the kitchen, drinking a nice cold vino and whipping up this  yummy meal. Also, the curry paste recipe makes twice as much as you need so that you can keep the other half for a night when your a bit less relaxed and you can just chuck in whatever you’ve got in the fridge and still end up with a yummy dinner.

I made this with the apple eggplants as they are abundant up in Darwin, but you can use any eggplant that is available in your area or even replace it with another veg such as zucchini or sweet potato, and you could replace the water spinach with regular english or baby spinach. It’s all about what’s available to you and hopefully grown locally!


Serves 4


Curry Paste
1 tsp peppercorns
2 tbs dried shrimp
1 tsp shrimp paste
4 coriander roots, chopped
3 stems lemongrass, white and light green part, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs ginger, chopped
1 tbs galangal, chopped
1 tsp fresh turmeric, chopped
2 long green chillies, chopped
2 small red chillies, chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
3 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs lime juice
2 tbs coconut vinegar
2 tbs coconut sugar
The rest….
400ml can coconut cream (don’t shake before opening)
1-2 cups chicken stock
500g chicken thigh, cut into 3cm pieces
500g thai apple eggplant, tops cut off, quartered, smaller ones, halved or left whole, the pieces should be around the same size as the chicken
1 large bunch water spinach, leaves picked (reserve the stems for a stir fry or something)
230g tin water chestnuts, drained, sliced
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/2 cup coriander, chopped
1/2 cup thai basil chopped
Steamed long grain rice, to serve

For the curry paste, in a large frying pan, over medium high heat, fry the peppercorns, dried shrimp, and shrimp paste (wrap paste in a small foil parcel), for about 5 mins or until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
In a mortar and pestle or a small bender, pound or process the peppercorns, shrimp and paste with the remaining curry paste ingredients.
You will only need 1/2 of the paste for the recipe. Keep the other half in the freezer for up to a month.
Over medium high heat, In a large/deep pan, pour the top half of the can of coconut cream and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring, for about 10mins, until the cream splits from the oil. Add the curry paste (remember, only half of what you made), and cook, stirring, for about 5-10 mins or until fragrant.
Add remaining coconut cream, 1 cup of chicken stock, chicken, eggplant and water chestnuts. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20mins or until chicken is cooked and eggplant is tender but not falling apart. Uncover, add the spinach and cashews and cook for another 5mins.
Take off the heat and allow to cool for about 10 mins. Stir through the herbs.
Serve with the rice.

Spiced Tarragon Chicken and Quinoa with Spinach and Tomato Salad, Pappadums and Yoghurt

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while you can probably see by now that I love putting food in edible ‘cups’, whether it’s lettuce, cabbage, pita, spinach leaves, pastry or pappadums, I just love piling all of the yummy textural ingredients into another textural ingredient and trying to take a bite without making the worlds biggest mess; which is impossible. But that’s part of the fun, neat eating is boring.

This is a great weeknight meal as you can just pick up a barbecue chook on your way home and whip this up in no time. Of course you could cook the chicken yourself too if you like; shredded poached chicken breasts work well. You will also need a microwave for the pappadums if you want to do it quickly. You can deep fry them too but I prefer the microwave method as it keeps them lower in fat. Come to think of it, I think pappadums are the only thing I ever use the microwave for! Use any colour of quinoa that you like, or even replace it with another pulse, legume or grain if that’s what you’ve got in the cupboard.





Serves 4


1 BBQ chicken, flesh and skin removed, shredded
3 tsp curry powder
2 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs black mustard seeds
1/2 cup tarragon leaves
3 tsp garam masala
2 long red chillies, deseeded, finely chopped
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups quinoa (red is best in my opinion)
1/2 cup green split peas
3-4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
Punnet of cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 shallots, finely sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped cashews
Greek yoghurt
Pappadums (cooked to packet instructions)


Combine the chicken in a bowl with the curry powder and some salt and pepper. Use hands to rub into the chicken and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat and cook the mustard seeds, stirring, for about 3mins or until they start to pop.
Reduce heat to medium, add the onion, garlic and chilli, cook for another 5mins or until soft.
Add the garam masala and half of the tarragon leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 min, or until fragrant.
Add the quinoa, split peas and 3 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for about 20-30mins or until quinoa and peas are cooked and the liquid is absorbed. If liquid absorbs before the quinoa and peas are cooked, add some more stock and continue cooking.
Meanwhile, for the salad, combine the spinach, parsley, tomatoes, shallots, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Toss lightly to combine and set aside.
Once, quinoa mixture is cooked and liquid has absorbed, stir through the curried chicken and turn out onto a serving plate or bowl. Scatter with the other half of the tarragon and the cashews.
Serve with the salad, pappadums and yoghurt.


Asian Style Turkey Mince with Pineapple and Sorrel Spinach

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I came up with this recipe by chance, it revolved around the fact that I thought I had bought Betel Leaves, when in actual fact they were Sorrel Spinach, I had some Kaffir Lime leaves from a friends tree, a pineapple from the local markets and we’d just caught and killed a fresh bush turkey… (joking).

You have to try this out, it was so easy and quick, but looks and tastes so impressive. It’s also light and healthy and doesn’t leave you feeling full and sluggish. You could serve it as a finger food, an entree or bulk it out with some rice or vermicelli for a main meal. You could also try replacing the turkey mince with chicken, pork, minced prawns or even minced firm silken tofu for a vegetarian option. The flavour combination of the salty mince, the sweet fresh pineapple, the chilli, mint, lime, crunchy nuts and slightly bitter sorrel is out of this world!

I really had no idea what to call this dish seeing as it’s a combination of so many asian flavours and influenced by dishes like San Choy Bow, Miang Kham, and Mar Hor. All beautiful dishes in their own rights and pretty awesome with their powers combined as well!

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1 cup desiccated coconut, toasted

1 tbs coconut oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

thumb size piece ginger, thinly sliced

2 long red chillies, thinly sliced

3 star anise

2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced

230g water chestnuts, chopped

500g turkey mince

3 tbs soy sauce (use tamari for gluten free)

3 tbs oyster sauce

1/4 cup mint, chopped, small leaves reserved for garnish


Bunch of Sorrel spinach leaves

1/2 pineapple thinly slices into triangles

1/2 cup, salted roasted peanuts, chopped

1 lime, cut into 8 wedges


Heat the coconut oil in a medium frying pan over medium high heat. Fry the garlic, 1 of the chillies, ginger and star anise until golden. Add the kaffir lime, chestnuts and turkey mince, working quickly to break up the mince before it cooks in clumps, fry until cooked through, about 5 to 10 mins. Add the soy and oyster sauce and cook for a further 2 mins or until there is no liquid left in the pan. Season with freshly cracked pepper. Add the mint and the toasted coconut and stir to combine, remove from the heat.

To serve, top a sorrel spinach leaf with a slice of pineapple, a couple of spoons of the mince mixture, some chilli, mint, peanuts and a squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy!

Thai Poached Chicken, Kumara, and Wild Rice Salad with Kaffir Lime and Coconut Dressing


I’m going to make this quick, the sun has just come out and I need to get to the beach!

This salad is delicious! Great textures and flavours, fresh and exciting! It’s really satisfying without making you feel too full afterwards. Gluten free and dairy free, it ticks all the boxes!

And it all came about because I had an abundance of kumara sitting around needing to be used. And I’m also a bit obsessed with coconut and lime at the moment, I think that’s just me wishing I was on a Caribbean island somewhere….

Definitely try and use a variety of kumara for this salad, they all taste different and have different textures when cooked. I used the good old orange as well as the purple skinned, white flesh variety. The purple skin variety holds its shape much better when baked, where the orange ones tend to go quite soft.


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Recipe (serves 4)


For the chicken

2-3 free range chicken breast

4 cups chicken stock

1 lemongrass stick, bashed and chopped

rind of 1 kaffir lime

4 kaffir lime leaves, chopped

5cm piece ginger, sliced

roots from 1 bunch coriander, washed

1 tbspn peppercorns

2 tbspn brown sugar

lemon oil (substitute olive oil)

For the salad

3 medium sweet potatoes (use a variety if possible)

olive oil

coriander seeds

300g wild rice

4 shallots, sliced

1 green chilli, half finely chopped and half sliced for decoration

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 bunch coriander, leaves and stems roughly chopped

1/2 bunch mint, leaves roughly chopped plus some whole for decoration

2 cups baby spinach roughly chopped

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper

1/2 cup toasted flaked coconut

1/2 cup roasted cashews, roughly chopped

micro herbs and edible flowers (optional)

For the dressing

400ml coconut cream

1 kaffir lime leaf, chopped

juice of half a lime

1 tbspn coconut sugar (substitute brown sugar)

1/2 lemongrass stalk, bashed and chopped

5cm piece ginger, chopped

1/2 cup of the liquid used to cook the chicken, strained


To poach the chicken, place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the simmer on a medium heat, simmer for 5-10mins, or until just cooked. Remove chicken from liquid and allow to cool slightly. Slice and drizzle with lemon oil to prevent it from drying out. Cover with cling wrap until needed.

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into long wedges. Toss with olive oil, coriander seeds, salt and pepper. Spread onto lined baking trays in a single layer. Bake in a 200 degrees oven for about 1/2 hr, or until golden and crispy on the edges. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile cook wild rice according to packet directions. Allow to cool before adding remaining salad ingredients, reserving the decorative chilli and mint and the coconut and cashews.

To make the dressing combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10mins. Strain, and allow to cool in the fridge.

To assemble the salad layer the rice mixture with the sweet potato and the chicken. Sprinkle with mint, chilli, coconut, cashews, micro herbs and flowers. Serve with dressing on the side for people to dress their own.








Achiote Spatchcock with Jalapeño Pesto, Spelt Tortillas, and a Chargrilled Corn and Mango Salad


I’ve been meaning to try out the Annatto Seeds used in the Achiote paste since they were given to me by a good friend for my birthday in August.

Annatto seeds come from the Achiote tree that grow in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. They are used for colouring food, similar to saffron, but also have a slight peppery, sweet and nutty flavour. Annatto is most commonly used in Latin American and Caribbean cuisines, mainly to make the Achiote paste used to marinate chicken. Natives would also use the seeds to make body paint and lipstick. Because of this the tree is sometimes referred to as the ‘Lipstick Tree’.

So, there’s a little info for you. Thanks wikipedia.

I made the Achiote paste by taking bits and pieces from a few different recipes on the internet. It would have been delicious as it was, used to marinate chicken or even pork, but I also wanted to use a few different types of chillies I’ve had in the cupboard for a while. Chipotle (which I’ve used quite a few times before) but also Mulato and Pasilla which I’ve never tried. They all have lovely deep but subtle differences and you can’t really go wrong by mixing them all together with the Achiote spices and some citrus. Really aromatic and delicious.

I have found a new appreciation for spatchcock in the last year. The flavour is surprisingly different to chicken and the texture is superior! So moist and luscious. Some might argue that they are too fiddly but trust me it is definitely worth it. And by butterflying and marinating them the flavours are able to penetrate right through the meat, resulting in soft, subtly flavoured meat close to the bone and a lovely  salty, crunchy skin.

I couldn’t make these spatchcocks without a few delicious things to go with it. I love eating like this. Every mouthful can be different and interesting. So much fun to share!


The jalapeño pesto is really different, a good kick from the jalapeños and coriander with a lovely creaminess form the pine nuts.

The tortillas are delicious and so easy to make, the dough was beautiful to work with and the spelt flour gave them a lovely flavour. I decided o make wheat tortillas instead of corn because I simply find them more delicious! I also love watching them puff up as they are in the frying pan. I haven’t included the recipe here but it’s from Maricel E. Presilla’s Gran Cocina Latina. An amazing Latin American cookbook. I just replaced the wholemeal flour with spelt.

The chargrilled corn and mango salad is refreshing and vibrant with the mixture of textures from the crunchy grilled corn, the soft sweet mango, the buttery beans and a good kick from  the fresh chilli, not to mention the dressing! It could be a meal on it’s own and would also go well with spiced fish.

Now that I’m writing this all down I am excited to see how many different types of chillies have gone into one meal! Ah, how I love chillies.


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Achiote Spatchcock 

2 tsp annatto seeds

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp peppercorns

2 tsp allspice

2 tsp rock salt

4 tbsp water

4 cloves garlic

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 each dried pasilla and mulato chillies, re-hydrated in hot water, stalks and seeds removed

2 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce with 1 tbsp of paste

1 tbsp sliced jalapeños

juice of 1 orange

juice of 2 limes

4 spatchcocks, butterflied

Crush dried spices in mortar and pestle.

Combine with rest of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Rub half the marinade all over the chicken and leave to marinate for 24 hours. (leftover marinade can be kept in the fridge for up to a week or frozen for a month or so).

To cook spatchcocks, use the grill element in the oven or a bbq. Cook for 10mins or so on the underside, turn, season the skin with a little extra salt and cook for around another 5 to 10 mins, or until cooked through and skin is nice and crispy. Rest, covered with foil, for 5 mins.

Serve with jalapeño pesto, corn and mango salad, tortillas and sour cream.

Jalapeño Pesto

1 1/2 cups coriander leaves and stalks

5 tbsp sliced jalapeños

1-2 cloves garlic

3 tbsp toasted pune nuts

juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

Combine dry ingredients in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add wet ingredients and pulse until just combined so as not to make a puree.

Chargrilled Corn and Mango salad

2 cans butter beans drined and rinsed

4 cobs corn, cooked on a grill until blackened in places and tender and kernels removed

4 long red chillies, finely sliced

2 mangoes diced

1 bunch coriander

1 red capsicum, finely diced

2 baby cos lettuce


4 cloves garlic

1 tsp each rock salt and peppercorns

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 1 lime

4 shallots finely chopped

1/4cup olive oil

For dressing, crush garlic with salt and pepper in a mortar and pestle.

Combine with remaining ingredients and check for seasoning.

Spread baby cos lettuce leaves on a platter. Combine other ingredients, reserving half the chilli and coriander, in a large bowl with dressing and gently mix to combine.

Spoon over the cos lettuce and top with reserved chilli and coriander.