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May 1, 2009 07:09 PM

***May 2009 COTM*** Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Island of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore

Hi there! Welcome to the links thread for the **May 2009 Cookbook of the Month** -- Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland. You may wish to bookmark this thread for future reference, as it contains links to all the other threads for this book.

We will use this thread for general commentary, recipe planning, links, discussion of the Introduction and Cuisines and Geography chapter, and any other goodies related to this COTM.

Happy cooking and baking and merry sampling! Yum yum! Enjoy! β™₯

Here are the links for the threads for the full length recipe reviews:

Street Foods (satays, salads, and snacks)

Rice and Noodles


Fish and Shellfish


Foods of Celebration (beef, goat, and pork

Tempeh, Tofu, and Eggs

Sweets and Beverages

Ingredients, Techniques, and Equipment


Plus, there's a lively discussion here, as a bunch of us set out on the ingredient quest, gearing up to this COTM:

Happy cooking! Yay for lemongrass tied in knots!

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  1. WOOHOO! Thanks for setting these threads up. For those who haven't secured a copy of the book yet, here's a link to a dozen or two recipes from the book


    1. Could you add the condiments thread to the list above? [Or I am blind, and it is there and I can't see it.] Thanks!!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: smtucker

        We took the liberty of adding a link to the condiments thread to foxy fairy's post above.

      2. Today was a successful trip to a local Asian supermarket called Lee Lee's. I'm going to list what I bought with some pics since I know some of the local 'Hounds are joining in this month. I went to the one in Peoria:

        Mung bean sprouts (I think they were mung bean, they weren't labeled but were smaller than the soybean sprouts)
        Chinese chives
        Fresh ginger, lemongrass, galangal, and turmeric
        Choy sum and kai lan
        Asian eggplant
        Fresh curry leaves and kaffir lime leaves
        Jasmine rice
        Candlenuts - 1.79, Indonesian aisle
        Shrimp paste/belacan - 1.29, Indonesian aisle
        Tamarind - Indian aisle, 99 cents
        Sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) - I bought the recommended Cap Bango brand - 2.19
        Double black soy - recommended Koon Chun brand - 1.99
        Daun pandan (frozen) - 89 cents
        Daun salam (dried) - 59 cents, Indonesian aisle
        Black mustard seeds - 89 cents, Indian aisle
        Tofu (packaged and blocks in tubs)
        Fresh rice noodles and wheat noodles
        King Mackerel steaks

        It's such a large store, I might have missed this, but couldn't find sweet soybean paste, palm vinegar, or any type of fresh red chiles. They did have some red ones mixed in with the package of Thai green chiles I bought, and I also bought some fresh-frozen in the freezer aisle labeled "ot tuoi" in Vietnamese. However, I know both of these are spicier than Holland red chiles. I'm going to check Fry's and Albertson's for Fresno chiles; I know I've seen them there before.

        Some other ingredients for the book I saw - long beans, water spinach, dried shrimp, head-on fresh medium shrimp (4.99 lb), palm sugar, shrimp chips (Indonesian aisle), and all the whole spices mentioned in the book.

        (last pic is fresh turmeric)

        9 Replies
        1. re: Rubee

          Daun Pandan, curry leaves, and Kaffir lime leaves:

          1. re: Rubee

            Rubee, thanks for the pictures, that is very helpful.

            I have a general question for the COTM gang. I have the book, and I have been planning to join in the cooking. But I have a new issue with tastes and textures, and I have developed an intolerance to spicy foods (even mildly spicy foods). I am getting the sense that a lot of these recipes are very strongly flavoured and can be spicy.

            The symptoms come and go, and I am hoping I can find a window of tolerance so I can join in the fun. (BTW I have been really enjoying everyone's posts.) But any suggestions of recipes that might be a bit kinder on my sensitive mouth? I am usually very tolerant of spices and strong flavours, so I'm a little bummed about this situation. I'm hoping it will pass soon. Would love any heads up about recipes that might go down well....

            1. re: moh

              There was were posts on mild chicken dishes that might suit you -- check the poultry board -- both a braised dish and a roasted chicken dish.
              If you're looking for mild, look for things that don't call for red chiles -- it's the flavoring paste that makes the dish spicy.
              The two beef dishes I made were not spicy hot. The beef rendang was delicious!

              1. re: moh

                Thanks for posting those interesting photos, Rubee.
                I got the book at the library but I'm not sure I'll use it. I could find the ingredients but I can't see devoting the shelf and refrigerator space to stuff that I wouldn't use very often. The recipes wouldn't be too spicy for me but most of them appear to be too spicy for my daughter.

                1. re: NYCkaren

                  I've been surprised at the lack of heat in the 2 main, 1 veg dish I've made. I had to amp up the Java Chicken Curry to get it to my liking. That said, my liking is pretty spicy. But still, I wouldn't have called the Fragrant Fish Stew spicy so much as citrusy.

                2. re: moh

                  I was expecting the recipes from this book to be very strongly flavored. But the recipes are not only less pungent, but less spicy too, and as many have noted before - lacking the oomph.

                  So far I have made:
                  Lemongrass scented coconut rice (wonderful aroma, no spices at all)
                  Beef satay (has no chiles at all. The marinade seemed pungent, but the mellowed down after marinating and cooking. You can reduce the amount of shallots and garlic to reduce the pungency)
                  Beef Randang (I haven't yet reported this one. The chiles amount is 5-20, I don't remember which one, but I used 5 holland chiles. This dish was not at all spicy for me, but it was spicy for my 3 year old, so I washed the beef for her. You can omit the chiles if you want. Also I was expecting to be very strongly flavored, as I was comparing it to the previous randang I have had in restaurants, but it was a mellowed version and we did not misse the pungency at all because the flavor is well rounded).

                  All in all, I would suggest to omit the chiles, cut down on the shallots and garlic, or even ginger (substitute it with galangal maybe).

                  Shrimp paste is another story. Based on what everybody else is writing about it, I haven't developed the courage to use it.

                  Good luck with these symptoms, I had them too few years ago!

                  1. re: moh

                    moh -- Try the Opor Ayam -- Javanese Chicken Curry, page 275. Very subtle. Three of us have made it so far, all concurring on the subtlety of flavor. This is not even mildly spicy if you take the chiles out of the flavoring paste, as suggested by NYchowcook. Since I did find this a little bland for me (not just lacking in spice, but actually requiring an additional flavor), I added pineapple to this curry for some sweetness, which you might like.

                    Look here:

                    1. re: foxy fairy

                      [off topic]

                      foxy, the candlenuts and daan salam should be delivered today. Let me know at smtucker at mac dot com when you will be in Boston and we can figure out an exchange spot.

                    2. re: moh

                      As others have mentioned, many recipes are not spicy, but are meant to be fragrant or layered with subtle flavors, so I think there are plenty of recipes to try. For example, the pan-seared kingfish is only flavored with ginger, garlic, onion, and the mild Holland peppers (though I used Thai chiles)

                      From reading the book, it seems that the heat comes from the spicy sambals, pickles, and/or dipping sauces meant to be used as condiments. On p. 117, he mentions "Throughout the region sambals are served at virtually every meal and eaten in combination with virtually every dish, from coconut-milk based curries to vegetable stir-fries. The most important dish they are served with, however, is rice".

                      I plan on making the javanese sambal, nyona sambal, and lemongrass sambal, and at least one dipping sauce and one pickle to go along with the dishes for the rest of the month.

                  2. The NY Times did a nice profile of Oseland a few years ago, that I thought others might find interesting.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: NYchowcook

                      Nice! There's a recipe in there, too. Don't know if that one, Ching Lee's Braised Lemongrass Long Beans, is in the book or not. Did he ever respond to your invitation to come cook with us?


                    2. Here's more reading on Oseland, for those interested. He's quite a fascinating man with a fervent love and appreciation for the food, people and culture of the region!


                      he gets his spices from Patel Brothers in Jackson Heights

                      and NYC hounds: for vegetables, he likes Choi Kun Heung on Chrystie Street. β€œIt's small and a little hard to find, but you can get beautifully fresh vegetables there-baby bok choi, garlic chives, long beans.”

                      A bit more about James, and rave of his book

                      I did invite James to join our discussion, and hopefully he he will!
                      If he does, we may want to prep by reviewing his participation in this prior forum:
                      Lots of helpful info from him posted there.

                      My sleuthing work revealed his favorite last meal would be:
                      ikan pepes – a whole fish slathered in a kaffir lime-y spice paste then
                      grilled inside a banana leaf (he says you can sub chicken or duck


                      coconut rice--lots of coconut rice;

                      eggplant curry with coconut milk and cinnamon and cloves;

                      stir-fried water spinach that had just been picked five minutes prior;

                      a glass of cool, sweet limeade made from kalimansi limes; and, of

                      the spice cake.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: NYchowcook

                        Interesting search. Oseland essentially changed his career from film to food "industry" by getting an invitation to Jakarta.

                        One thing about coconut rice, I had it once in the weekend and then again for Monday lunch and I am already thinking about when am I going to eat it again.