If you ever find yourself in Bali and you can only do one thing, make it a Balinese cooking class. My recommendation? Paon Bali Cooking Class is hosted by Puspa, one of the most charming and satirical people on the planet. Puspa and her family made the experience even better than I anticipated.
During our class we made several traditional Balinese dishes, all of which were absolutely delicious. We were also taught the Balinese cooking methods to creating these dishes. To cook the fish we wrapped them in banana leaves and steamed them in a basket; to create the sauces we crushed the spices by hand; and we used coconut shells for the fire instead of charcoal or gas. For seasoning we would “add one extra scoop, for good luck.” I learned so much about Balinese cooking and culture in just a few short hours, and made so many new friends along the way. While taking a cooking class may seem a bit “touristy”, this one is definitely worth-while!
Below is the recipe I learned for gede bumbu kuning, a basic yellow sauce, which goes great with many Southeast-Asian dishes like stir-fry or noodles. A few of these ingredients can be hard to track down in typical US grocery stores, so I suggest hitting up your local Asian food market. If you are local to Philadelphia and want more specific recommendations let me know!
- 5 shallots
- 7 cloves of garlic
- 3 inch piece of ginger
- 1 inch piece of turmeric
- 1 hot chile
- 1 red chile
- 2 macadamia nuts
- 1/2 tsp of black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp of white pepper
- 1 cloves
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 T of palm sugar
- 1/2 stalk of lemongrass, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 T coconut oil
- Chop the shallots, garlic, root spices, macadamia nuts, and chilies – remove the seeds from the chilies if you want it to be less spicy
- Smash all of the ingredients in a mortar & pestle until it is a fine paste – mortar & pestle brings out the flavors a little more, but you can also use a food processor or blender if that works better for you
- Heat coconut oil over medium heat, then sauté the paste for about a minute
- Add the salt, pepper, palm sugar, bay leaves, and lemongrass, then sauté for around 7-8 minutes on low heat
- Some of the ingredients used in making gede bumbu kuning. Photo by Liyah Desher (2017).