From Farm to Table: Balinese Style 10 September 2013

From Italy to Spain to Canada to this summer on the island of Bali in Indonesia, my husband, two daughters and I have chopped and stirred our way through cooking classes, learning not only new culinary techniques and tasting local delicacies, but also cherishing the opportunity for a peek into the history and family traditions of different cultures.

Attend Cooking Class on Your Next Vacation

Often before we visit a new city, I search the internet with the words “cooking class and the city name.” My husband laughs because I often include “cheap” and “children” in my search string as well as I like to fit the class into our budget and include our children. Our cooking class in Indonesia took on a whole new meaning as it was held outdoors among the bamboo, banana, and coconut trees in a traditional Balinese village.

Know Your Food, Know Your Farmer

Many cooking schools start with a stroll through the farmer's market to buy locally grown fresh ingredients. Enjoy seeing the fresh herbs, snakefruit, and colorful rambutan as you stroll through this Outdoor Market in the artist's city of Ubud in Bali.

Gado Gado = Vegetables in Peanut Sauce

I fell in love with the flavor of the peanut sauce in Indonesia which is used as a dip for vegetables or mixed with cut up vegetables for a salad. What a great way to increase vegetables ( to at least half of your plate!

Even though our recipe in Bali used fresh roasted peanuts, which we ground using a mortar and pestle, I have adapted this recipe so it is quick and simple for our American kitchen.

Peanut Sauce Recipe:

In a small bowl combine:

  • 1/2 cup of chunky or creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice (or juice squeezed from 1/2 lime)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground garlic (or 1 teaspoon fresh garlic minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoon hot water (if too thick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional for a spicier sauce)
Stir until mixture is well blended. Serve either cold or slightly warmed in the microwave.

We Eat with Our Eyes First

For a pleasing presentation, I place the peanut sauce in a small bowl in the center of a larger platter and arrange the vegetables so they look like rays coming out from the center of a sunbeam (the peanut sauce). I usually use at least four different vegetables (about 1/2 cup each) to create a colorful plate.

  1. Bean Sprouts
  2. Lightly Steamed/Blanched Broccoli or Green Beans or Cabbage
  3. Cherry Tomatoes
  4. Carrot Sticks
  5. Baby Radish
  6. Cucumber Slices
  7. Green and Red Pepper Strips
  8. Your favorite vegetable or rice balls or tofu or tempeh

Dessert: Fruit, Fruit and More Fruit!

For special occasions, dessert in Bali is black rice pudding. However, most of the time, dessert is a mixture of three kinds of colorful fruits, such as watermelon, cantaloupe and pineapple served on a community plate in the center of the table, eaten with a toothpick. After some very spicy Balinese meals, my South Dakota palate was craving the appeasing qualities of sweet fruits.

Cultural Immersion in Your Home

1. Plan an Indonesian Night! Prepare Gado Gado! Use a Batik tablecloth. Listen to some gamelan music of Indonesia as you eat.

2.When planning your next vacation, sign up for a cooking class! The classes are usually two to four hours long and generally fit around when you would eat lunch anyway.

“Selamat makan” as our Balinese guide, Komong, told us. Enjoy your meal and eat it slowly!

Martha Henze, MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC,
Martha is an instructor at a community college, avid tennis player, and tries to attend cooking school in every country she visits.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Foods & Recipes/Fruit & Vegetables Foods & Recipes/Nuts & Seeds Travel/Regional Foods

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