The Spirit Of Cooking

I was once on holiday in Goa, India and went to a cashew nut factory. We toured through the factory and had each process explained to us. We heard how the nuts are first removed from the shell by smashing each one manually, and that the oil around the nut is so toxic that it burns the hands of the workers, so they rub coconut oil/grease on their hands as a barrier. The whole nuts that emerge from the shell are sorted away from the broken ones; whole ones are more valuable, so each smash of the anvil makes a difference to the pay. All day long the women and workers squat on their haunches breaking and peeling and sorting the nuts in a dark and hot, and dusty building. Mountains of cashew nuts are piled in heaps, beautiful in colour and texture, the smell of roasting nuts filled the air, and I am mesmerised. I am jolted from my blissful trance when I focus on the workers, I feel their suffering, their poor aching limbs, and the desperation of their lives hits me. They smile with black or toothless grins as we stop to watch them, they are covered in dirt and wear ragged cloth on their bony limbs, but they do not stop working, clamping each nut, peeling and shelling, then discovering its worth. Their hands are black and greasy from the coconut oil; blisters show where the barrier didn’t cover the skin but each one I am told is grateful and happy to have such a good job. I wonder to myself if this can be true.
Since that experience I have never once eaten cashew nuts, especially whole ones, without thinking of those workers and that factory in Goa. Knowing where ingredients come from and how it got to be here in a bag in a supermarket near me, fascinates me and gives me a fuller understanding of how the world goes round and how the people in the world live and work.
That’s what gives meaning to the food I prepare.

Claire Fuller

Big Buddha Comes To Stirling

Exciting culinary things are happening in Stirling at the moment with the soon to be open Sticky Rice Cooking School. Extensive work has been going on at 96 Old Mt Barker Road to renovate and refurbish the old 1940’s deli and residence into a brand new state of the art hands on cooking school.

Local owners Claire and Mark Fuller have committed a huge investment into the once run down premises, and day by day new life is being breathed into the place with the installation of huge bi-fold windows, oversized entrance doors and a gigantic 2.1 m lava stone Buddha weighing 2 tonnes which has been imported specifically for the cooking school by Iki Furniture at Aldgate and which is due to be crane lifted in to place in early Sep.

Be Celeng Base Manis (Pork in Sweet Soya Sauce)

This is a perfect Indonesian dish to wow your friends at a dinner party. It’s rich and sticky and best served with a green veg steamed or stir fried and plain rice.
Technique Tips
It can be made in advance and in fact requires long slow cooking and cooling which enhances the flavour. Use a wide top pan so that you achieve the reduction of the liquid each time you heat and cool the contents and never cover the pan. Use second grade pork like neck or shoulder not the lean cuts which will dry out during the long cooking time. The key is to add the liquid gradually throughout the process so never cook in one go if you want to achieve the best results. I was taught to cook this in an outdoor kitchen in Bali at the Bumbu Bali Cooking School where we cooked up almost 12 recipes in a day! Next time you visit Bali, I recommend a days cooking there, you will certainly learn from the best.
Ingredients
2 tbls Coconut Oil- this is available in jars from the Asian supermarket
5 shallots , peeled and sliced
5 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced
600g boneless pork leg , shoulder or neck cut into 2cm cubes
8cm Ginger peeled and sliced
4 tbls Kepas Manis- (Sweet soya Sauce) ABC brand is best.
2 tbls Dark Soya Sauce
1 tsp Black peppercorns
2 cups Chicken Stock
6-10 birds eye chillies left whole
Preparation
1.    Heat coconut oil in a heavy wide top saucepan. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for 2 min over medium heat or until lightly coloured.
2.    Add pork and ginger, continue to sauté for 2 more mins over high heat. Add sweet and salty soya sauce and crushed black pepper, continue to sauté for 1 min.
3.    Pour in a little of the chicken stock , add the chillies and simmer over med heat for aprox 1 hour in total, but allow to cool down and stop cooking twice during this process and top up with chicken stock out of the allowance each time.
4.    When cooked there should be very little sauce left and the meat should be shiny and dark brown. If the meat becomes too dry during cooking, add a little chicken stock.

Balinese Spiced Chicken

500g Chicken thigh meat
1 tbls peanut oil
3 Asian shallots sliced thinly
1 Garlic clove chopped finely

Pounded Spices
5 thin slices galangal
2 tsps chopped coriander roots and stalk
1/4 tsp cumin powder
3 pieces candlenuts
½ tsp white pepper

400ml coconut cream
½ tsp dried turmeric
1-2 tbls grated palm sugar
½ tsp Asian chicken stock powder
1 tsp green curry paste
2 small red/green chillies sliced
3 potatoes peeled and cut into pieces
2 salam leaves
¼ tsp dried nutmeg powder
1 clove

Using a pestle and mortar pound the candlenuts, galangal, coriander, cumin and white pepper into a smooth paste.

In a wok, heat the oil and fry the garlic and Asian shallots until golden. Add the spice mixture and fry until fragrant 1-2 minutes.
Add the chicken and coat with the spices until sealed. Add the potatoes and mix through and cook for 3-5 minutes until fragrant.
Add the coconut cream, and all other ingredients and stir through gently until well incorporated.
Leave to cook for 30-40 minutes until chicken is tender and sauce has thickened slightly.
If the curry gets too dry during cooking, you can add small quantities of milk, coconut milk or water.
Serve with Asian Roti bread and steamed jasmine rice.

Adelaide Cooking Classes

An exciting new culinary experience is opening in the Adelaide Hills for lovers of Asian Cooking and Travel.

The Sticky Rice Cooking School is due to open in November 2008 for ‘real’ hands-on cooking classes  in challenging cuisines such as Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Burmese, Nepalese, Laos, Malaysian, Indonesian, Cambodian, Japanese, Moroccan and Lebanese.

Expert instruction is provided by local and visiting chefs who will take you on a fun and entertaining food journey. You will be shown the finer points of how to create great Asian cuisine for yourself and you are guaranteed to take away a wealth of knowledge about the ingredients and cultural background of the food.

Chefs in 2008 include Kelly Lord from the famous Spirit House restaurant and cooking school in Yandina and internationally known master of Indian and vegetarian cuisine Kurma Dasa who has recently been screened on SBS and Foxtel.

Classes will suit competent cooks, work and friendship groups and travellers who have had their taste buds awakened overseas and want to learn how to create authentic and classic Asian dishes at home.

Classes are held weekdays, weekends, and evenings and run for approximately four hours. Your visit includes time to dine on the delicious food and complimentary wine, stock up at the cook-shop and browse the antiques and gifts for sale.

Chef lead Food Tours to Thailand, Vietnam and Laos are also available for the passionate traveller.

The Sticky Rice newsletter contains details of up-coming classes, chef profiles, recipes and how to find the cooking school and make an online booking.
If you would like to receive the Launch Edition of the Sticky Rice Newsletter you can register your details via the newsletterlink on the front page.

How to season your wok

So you’ve got a nice shiny new wok, time to fine tune it into a precision cooking tool. First of all, wash out the machine oil, get some rock salt, turn your gas up high and cook the salt. Get it smoking, stir the salt around, we want to get the salt into the fine cracks and grooves.

After 10 minutes or so, dump the salt and pour in some cooking oil. Carefully swish the oil around or use a paper towel to smear the oil all over the inner surface. Get it smoking,

Turn off the heat, wipe out the excess oil with a paper towel and allow to cool. Store it as ususal.

Now here’s the key. When you’ve finished cooking with your wok, don’t scrub it clean back to bare metal. Just lightly wash it, scrub off any crusty bits. Dry your wok, put it on a gas jet on high until the water has evaporated. Pour in a small amount of oil and rub it around your wok, remove from heat, allow to cool and store it as usual.

That’s it. This will ensure that your food takes on a nice ‘woky’ flavour.