Nobody gave Indonesia a chance to beat an established world cuisine like Korea. Hell we are talking Rusty Chef Scot’s home turf! Yet the surprises that followed held us reeling with delight. When Scot heard Australia and New Zealand were included in the Indonesian region he lit up like a kid on Christmas. Falling back on meat and potatoes when faced with an extremely exotic cuisine made an undesirable chore into pleasant simplicity.
For me it was not as foreign as it would have seemed at first. Much of the ingredients paralleled Filipino cooking even down to the names of some of the items. But preparation differed and moderately spicy flavors prevailed. This made Indonesian cuisine more interesting than ever. Korean food was no stranger to me either. I had favorites and fully expected to serve one up.
Okay, maybe I cheated a little bit by choosing Australia for our Indonesian region. My meal was nothing like you would find in any Indonesian restaurant in the world, but I couldn’t pass up a shot at some really great lamb chops.
I took the opportunity to compare two of the world’s greatest cuts of lamb; Australian and Colorado. The Colorado lamb had a leg up before we started – namely, it was a rib chop that is inherently more marbled and juicier. The Australian lamb chop was a loin chop which tends to be leaner but larger, and is readily available anywhere.
Both cuts were simply seasoned with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper and broiled until medium rare. Each cut was delicious, but the Colorado lamb was a clear winner. Unfortunately, at twice the price, I really don’t consider it worth it. The Australian will do very nicely, thank you.
The Crash Hot potatoes were a superstar side dish, one that I passed on to some friends who were as crazy about it as I was. This potato dish will earn a permanent place in my oven.
The grilled pineapple was pretty damn good, too!
Rusty Chef Scot’s Indonesia Rating: A Solid 3 Knives
This cuisine was a total surprise. It was not as I had thought a knock off of Thai or Malay cuisine. It certainly held its own and brought some new ideas to preparing typical Southeast Asian ingredients. When i finished the meal I was confident in its success that it would take out Korea. What stood out?
Making chicken satay was really quite fun. Grilled meats rarely fail and satay is a solid standby that proved easy and delicious. But honestly it was the ragingly awesome peanut sauce that stole the show. Sweet, spicy, salty, and loaded with peanut flavor, I can use it for more than just satay. If there was a weakness in the meal it wasn’t the duck Rendang. Creamy coconut sauce mixed with rice to soothe the tongue and offer up subtle curry like hints from the fresh turmeric. Lastly the river spinach was salty from the shrimp paste and slightly spicy from the Thai bird chilies.
The meal was quite good-quite. Indonesia was a pleasant surprise.
Rusty Chef Indonesia Rating: 2 1/2
I started pretty simply in Korea. Married to a Korean girl, I understand that Kimchi is the lifeblood of Korean cuisine and that was what we needed to focus on. Other Korean food was interesting, but Kimchi is the essential ingredient in Korean cuisine. If my wife runs out of Kimchi, after a couple of days she feels tired, claiming the Kimchi gives you energy to survive.
Not only is Kimchi an essential side dish in Korea, it also helps to prevent cancer, help you lose weight, prevents yeast infections in women, and is one of the 5 healthiest foods in the world. In the world of food, it really doesn’t get much better than this.
And it makes a pretty damn good hot dog!
Rusty Chef Scot’s Korea Rating: 3
Making Korean feast is not supposed to be some massive production. As with any of these posts it was with me. But it is not that I tried to make a feast of it, it is because in its everyday form Korean food is presented with so many banchan that it literally becomes a feast. Since I do not have a bunch of leftovers laying around like a Korean household would, I needed to prepare each of the five banchan for my meal fresh. This created some unique problems and a whole lot of work.
Making five separate side dishes even simple ones can spread your attention pretty thin. Making the noodles was the down fall of the menu. Wrong item made the wrong way for the occasion. As a result it was the failure dish of the meal. All the banchan succeeded to different degrees with the best surprising my authenticity critic and the worst still good in my opinion. The Galbi Jjim as any beef stew would be was very good. With a solid showing by the main course and better than average sides supporting, Korean cuisine wins the day.
Rusty Chef Steve’s Korea Rating: 3
Indonesia vs. Korea, Results