Balinese Cooking Class
Like I mentioned in the previous post, Central areas in Bali have no shortage of restaurants that cater to foreign visitors, but authentic Balinese dishes are hard to find, most specialty dishes are reserved for special celebrations only as they are often very time consuming.
We signed up for this cooking class not knowing what to expect (but turned out to have a fantastic experience and had the best meal on the island). Two of my friends had given me high recommendations to eat at Bumbu Bali prior to the trip. While looking on the website, I was ecstatic to find that they offer cooking classes. It costs about $100/person, and the classes took place at the gorgeous Rumah Bali Bed & Breakfast.
We started the day bright and early with a 6am pick-up from our villa. Why so early? Before we get to the cooking part, our instructor took us to the village market and the fish market to check out all the morning activities of the locals as most of the shopping is done before 8am.
|Below| Chickens, not gonna get any fresher than that… and an array of commonly used spices in Balinese cooking.
|Below| What a traditional Balinese breakfast would look like, cakes made out of potato starch or rice flour. Very similar to some of the Chinese cakes I grew up with. The one on the right tasted like mochi.
|Below| Mama Bali making a 1-minute basket with palm leaves. Usually these are filled with rice then steamed.
|Below| Typical fruits in Bali. Different varieties of bananas, longan fruit, star fruit, and the one I have not seen before – Snake fruit. There are two types of snake fruit, I have no idea how to tell them apart but one variety tastes significantly better. It’s crunchy, sweet, with a pit inside.
|Below| Inside the market, lots of freshly butchered meat on display. Since the meat is so fresh, it doesn’t attract flies just yet, most of them are still slightly warm.
|Below| Crackers, shrimp chips…etc.
Speaking of our instructor, Heinz was funny, informative, and most importantly, we all could tell he was extremely passionate about food. You may think you’re not getting authentic recipes from a non-native chef, but he has worked as the executive chef at Hyatt and Ritz Carlton in Bali. After noticing a lack of authentic Balinese restaurant in Bali, as most restaurants serve up a mix of Indonesian food along with other cuisine like Italian and French, he researched extensively and opened up Bumbu Bali where only real Balinese cuisine is served. He also was the first author to publish a food about Balinese cuisine and four more to follow.
|Below| The tiny baskets filled with flowers and goods are offerings to the Gods. You’ll see plenty on the streets, try not to step on them. On the right, fermented eggs.
|Below| A quick breakfast or snack – coconut and rice with sweetened syrup, wrapped with a banana leaf.
The market place reminded me a lot of traditional markets in Taiwan (where I grew up). People even rode their mopeds, weaved around the streets and shopped “drive-through” style.
After visiting the market place, our next stop was the Jimbaran fish market. We saw countless fishing boats in the water that couldn’t come ashore due to the reefs, so fishermen transported the seafood in smaller rowboats. Yes, that’s a small shark on the right.
|Below| People selling all kinds of seafood outside the market.
Rows after rows of seafood inside the market. But if you look at these fishes closely, Most of the eyes were sunken in or bloodshot red, an big warning sign of the products being not fresh.
After a somewhat depressing trip to the fish market, we head to Rumah Bali to commence our cooking class. First, we had a quick tour of the gorgeous grounds and facility. It’s a stunning 24-room bed and breakfast with a beautiful garden setting. Would’ve loved to stay there!
|Below| Baby turtles that were rescued. They will be released to the sea soon. The piggies on the right, however, will not be released to the wild. Let’s just say, happy piggies make delicious pork.
After a tour of the grounds, we sat down and enjoyed a traditional Balinese breakfast that consisted of the cakes and fruits we saw at the market, black rice pudding, and sweet rice dumplings in a sweetened coconut cream sauce. We washed all those down with Balinese coffee and refreshing papaya orange mango smoothie.
Time for class! There were 16 people in the class, although the class was more demonstration-based, we each got to volunteer as many times as we could to make or help with a dish. We learned ~20 recipes in 4 hours. Here is what the website listed, we learned most of the dishes plus a couple different ones.
- Kuah Siap – Chicken Stock
- Nasi Kuning – Yellow Rice
- Bubuh Injin – Black Rice Pudding
- Base be Pasih – Seafood Spice Paste
- Base Gede – Basic Spice Paste
- Ayam Betutu – Grilled Chicken in Banana Leaf
- Be Celeng Base Manis – Pork in Sweet Soy Sauce
- Kambing Mekuah – Lamb Stew with Cardamom
- Sate Ayam – Chicken Sates
- Sate Sampi – Beef Sate
- Sate Babi – Pork Sate
- Base Sate – Peanut Sauce
- Sate Lilit – Minced Seafood Sate
- Tum Ayam – Minced Chicken in Banana Leaf
- Lawar Gedang – Green Papaya Salad with Prawns
- Pecelan – Vegetable Salad in Peanut Dressing
- Sayur Pakis – Fern Tips in Spiced Chilli Dressing
- Ketipat Lontong – Rice Cakes
- Ayam Pelalah – Shredded Chicken with Chilli and Lime
- Urab Jagung – Sweet Corn with Grated Coconut
- Pisang Goreng – Fried Bananas
- Nasi Goreng Mawut – Special Fried Rice with Noodles, Chicken and Vegetables
|Below| I’m now obsessed with coconut cream. Nothing beats freshly made coconut milk or cream, but it is extremely perishable and time consuming to make. Where can I get my hands on some of this stuff in the States? Canned ones just don’t even come close.
|Below| One of my favorite dish from the class, green papaya salad with prawns and dressing. On the right, making little packages wrapped with banana leaves. These were stuffed with a minced chicken mixture. Other variations include minced seafood or sweet cakes. With each varieties, the wrapping is also done differently.
|Below| Nasi Goreng Mawut, a combination of fried rice and noodles. This was cooked with the freshly made coconut oil, and oh my goodness, was it delicious! On the right, seafood satays! The special spiral shapes were very hard to make.
|Below| After all of our hardwork, we sat down and critiqued our cooking. Okay, not so much critiquing, more like scarfing down the food with tears of joy. This was hands down, the best meal we had on the island, Not because we cooked it or anything, but none of our meals on the island tasted so fresh and flavorful. Taking the time to pick out fresh ingredients and making everything from scratch are two key steps to making an unforgettable meal like this.
As soon as I get my hands on some quality coconut cream, I hope to make another one of our class’ favorites dish – Sweet corn with grated coconut!