Warung Mek Juwel is a local gem! #ubud #nasicampurayam

This local gem, Warung Mek Juwel, is hidden away in a back road of Sayan, just outside of Ubud but worth the trip out for delicious Nasi Campur Ayam, the iconic Balines chicken and rice dish. It certainly was a great way to kick off this trip to Bali. It is a one dish restaurant so you just sit at the table, help yourself to soft drinks from the fridge and the food magically appears. It’s like being in a Balinese family home.

Nasi Campur translates to mixed rice and is traditionally served with a mixture of meat cooked in different styles and a mixture of sambals and sides. Throughout Bali the competition and legends of various Nasi Campur warungs (local restaurants) abounds….with many different styles and flavours. Therefore the search for the best Nasi Campur is I believe a lifetime task! Today’s visit to Warung Mek Juwel definitely makes the cut of one of the best I’ve tried.

Warung Mek Juwel hasn’t quite made the map of the best Nasi Campur in the world as yet, but I suspect this will not be far away. However I just saw that it is Ubud Food Legend Janet de Neefe’s recommendations in her top places to eat like a local in Ubud.

Spicy, sweet, savoury, crunchy, soft and full of flavour: Legendary Nasi Campur Ayam at Warung Mek Juwel, Sayan, Ubud

The (Ayam)chicken served in the Nasi Campur here at Warung Mek Juwel is a combination of roast chicken, sate Lilit(minced chicken on lemongrass skewer), smoked chicken and crunchy chicken skin “floss” all cooked with a delicious “bumbu” – the name for traditional Balinese spice pastes. The smoked chicken was flavourful with a smokiness that apparently comes from being roasted in coconut husks.

Entryway to home of owners of Warung Mek Juwel

Served with fiery sambal, boiled egg and a mixture of crunchy peanuts, and delicious vegetables, noodles and rice, this is a truly authentic nasi campur ayam. the restaurant was full of locals which of course is always a great sign if you’re eating local food. (I skip the small serving of fried internal bits and pieces of chicken but my husband loves it all!)

Legendary local Nasi Campur Ayam at Warung Mek Juwel

The restaurant itself is situated next to the family home and has a lovely, simple feel and overlooks rice paddies and local homes with ducks wandering around quacking in the background. Prices are still local so it’s about RP45,000 each which is an absolute bargain for this truly authentic experience!

Ducks in the rice paddies next to Warung Mek Juwel

Great authentic Nasi Campur Ayam experience to kick off our current trip to Ubud, Bali.

Spicy Southern Thai pork rib dry curry

A shortcut recipe for a Southern Thai Pork ribs curry with a zesty, spicy, sweet, sour Thai curry sauce…yum.

I was looking for dinner ideas yesterday and stumbled upon a recipe for this traditional Southern Thai “dry curry”, called this because it doesn’t have coconut milk in it. Now this is a new delicious discovery!

Shortcut Recipe

The traditional Thai dry curry recipe involves making the hot spice paste from scratch, which looked quite involved ..probably worth it if a larger amount and all the fresh ingredients required are available.

To bypass making the paste from scratch, but try to achieve the flavours outlined in the original recipe, I decided to use a bought red curry paste as a base and add additional ingredients such as turmeric, lemongrass, lime zest, fresh chillies and garlic pounding these to a paste first and then adding the bought curry paste.

The resulting paste worked really well. This is the only hard work you will have to do as the rest is just simmering it all together for about an 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Using lean pork ribs with very little fat also meant that the end result wasn’t overly oily/fatty.

My additional ingredients

I also added small eschallots and chopped green beans which are optional but the sweetness of the onions and crunch of the green beans went well with the succulent, lip smacking ribs!

This will be going on a family favourites list!

  • Ingredients
  • 1 large rack of “American style” pork ribs, ask the butcher to cut in half vertically. (About 600g)
  • 12 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6 fresh red chillies
  • Knob of fresh ginger (about equal to quantity of garlic)
  • 1.5 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp,paste (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 7 heaped teaspoons of bought Thai red curry paste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cups of water

Method:

1. Cut all the ribs into individual pieces slicing between them.

2. Slice 1/2 the stick of lemongrass, chop up 3 chillies, ginger, garlic and put into a mortar and pestle. Add the lime zest and pound all the ingredients until a paste forms.

3. Add the turmeric powder to the paste and mix through.

4. Add the bought curry paste and shrimp,paste and pound/mix together with your paste to amalgamate.

5. Heat oil in a heavy based pot (which has a lid), add curry paste and the 3 other chillies (left whole with stems removed). Stir fry paste until it is fragrant.

6. Add 1/2 cup or so of water to loosen up the paste, then add pork ribs and stir to coat ribs in sauce stirring continuously so ribs don’t stick and paste doesn’t burn. Add additional water if necessary. You just want the meat to “seal” rather than brown.

7. Add kaffir lime leaves, rest of water, fish sauce, black pepper, white pepper, sugar and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 40 minutes.

8. Add eschallots, lime juice and stir.

9. After another 15-20 minutes, check curry is not sticking, see if your meat is tender. Add green beans, and a bit more water if necessary.

10. Cook for 5-8 minutes until green beans are just tender. Sauce should be well reduced and you will see the oil separating slightly on the sides. You want the sauce to be coating the ribs!

11. Garnish with finely sliced lime leaves, chopped coriander and serve with jasmine rice, and an empty bowl on the side for your rib bones!

Bang Bang Chicken Salad

Bang bang chicken is a spicy shredded Chinese chicken salad that we first tasted at the humble but iconic “Chinese Noodle Restaurant” in the Prince Centre in Sydney’s Chinatown. As well as their delicious handmade noodles, their shredded chicken salad is always on one of our menu choices when we visit. It’s been a family favourite since the early 90’s!

Over the years I have also tried to recreate it at home. It’s a great weeknight dinner which can be served with lettuce cups, steamed greens and some jasmine rice if you like, or just delicious on it’s own.

It has the name “bang, bang” because it was traditionally banged with batons to loosen the chicken fibres before shredding. I use a mallet to do this and it works a treat!

Add chopped steamed green beans and lots of cucumber to add a bit more bulk to it as a meal in itself! It’s a great for lunch the next day too.

  • Ingredients
  • 2-3 poached chicken thigh fillets
  • Glad wrap and a meat mallet
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese chilli oil (I use Chiu Chow style)
  • 2 teaspoons Szechuan pepper crushed
  • 1 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger pounded to a paste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Chinkiang vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced spring onions
  • 1 cucumber sliced and cut into chunks

Method:

1. Place glad wrap over poached chicken laid flat on a chopping board. Use mallet to lightly flatten, then shred into long strips into a bowl.

2. Whizz or pound Szechuan pepper in a spice grinder to a (not too fine) powder, place in bowl, mix with sesame oil, vinegar, chilli oil, sugar and soy sauce.

3. Add spring onion to chicken, then dress, mix well, taste to see if you want to add extra chilli oil or Szechuan pepper, or soy sauce if not salty enough.

4. I add the cucumber last and lightly toss.

Pork Larb with Green Beans #larb #salad

This classic Thai inspired salad is a great weekday summer dinner that is very tasty.

Thai inspired Pork Larb Salad

We are currently using herbs from pots in our courtyard that are thriving through the Sydney summer. Mint, coriander, chilies and basil are essential for this recipe and luckily close to hand at the moment.

I serve this with lettuce cups and some jasmine rice making for a quick but satisfying lunch or dinner. Also perfect for leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:

  • Ingredients
  • 500g lean pork mince
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic finely sliced
  • 2 tbspoons Vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 red chillies finely chopped (and 2 left whole optional)
  • 1 small red onion finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber cut into sticks
  • 4-5 lettuce leaves trimmed to create cups
  • Lettuce trimmings
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green beans

Method:

1. Slice onions and garlic and set aside

2. Trim lettuce to create cups, place in freezer to crisp up, keep trimmings to add to salad.

3. Chop chillies, coriander and make cucumber sticks. (do not chop basil and mint as these are better torn and scattered into the salad at the last minute)

4. Squeeze lime juice and set aside.

5. Blanch green beans until just tender if using fresh green beans.

5. Heat vegetable oil in a wok, add sesame oil, add garlic and fry till just golden.

6. Add pork mince (and whole chillies if using) fry until browned. (I put the whole chillies in as they are there for extra spice if required for chilli heads without making the whole salad too hot to handle)

6. Add fish sauce, 1/2 the lime juice, pepper, sugar, chillies and stir through, then add green beans and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes until beans are heated through. Add some water here if required but not too much as you don’t want too much liquid.

7. Add all other ingredients to wok, including rest of lime juice, and tearing in mint and basil leaves. Gently toss. Taste to see if balance is how you like it, as you can always splash in more fish sauce or lime juice….or chop up one of the whole chillies if not spicy enough for you.

8. Serve with lettuce cups and jasmine rice.

#Booji Breakfast: spicy Indian scrambled #eggs

A favourite Indian breakfast and famous street food which is just as good for a quick lunch or dinner. There are lots of different versions and you can experiment by adding chopped bacon bits, tomatoes or even finely diced boiled potato.

I made this today for Father’s Day breakfast served with crunchy sourdough toast and sausages.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion very finely diced
  • 1 large mushroom finely diced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic smashed to a paste
  • 2 green birdseye chillies finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cummin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • 2-3 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon diced coriander
  • 3 large eggs beaten

Method:

1. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a non stick frying pan over medium heat.

2. Add cumin seeds and curry leaves if using. Heat until fragrant.

3. Add onions and cook slowly over gentle heat until translucent, then add garlic and sauté for a minute.

4. Add turmeric, cumin and chilli powders and sauté until cooked into onions, about 1.5 minutes. Then add green chilli and mushrooms or other ingredients you may choose to add, like cooked bacon bits or finely diced boiled potatoes. Add a sprinkle of salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes until heated through.

5. Add the other tablespoon of butter, add eggs and scramble until egg is cooked to your liking.

6. Toast bread and pile on booji, garnish with coriander and enjoy!

#Buttermilk Brined and Fried Chicken #southernstyle #juicy

Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken

After the inspiration of Charles Raymond’s Buttermilk Cereal Chicken I investigated some recipe options and made up my own version, which turned out well and proved to be a hit at our NYE lunch picnic in Sydney’s beautiful Centennial Park.

Centennial Park, Sydney

Served with Japanese Coleslaw from our local Charcoal Charlie’s chicken shop and my newly created Tequila Black Bean Salsa Saladand crusty soft rolls from Taste Providore in Woollahra, who sell some of the best bread in the Eastern Suburbs. A fabulous combination! Way better than KFC if I say so myself, but staying on the treats list rather than becoming a staple.

The brining of the chicken in the buttermilk tenderises and marinates the chicken and then acts as a brilliant “glue” for the spice crust.

Adding Panko breadcrumbs into the flour mixture makes the crust more crispy and “craggy” making for a delicious outer layer.

By putting the fried chicken in the oven, dried the crust and allows excess oil to leech off. Or so I found. Obviously you need to play around to ensure the first batch and last batch ge5 around the same time in the oven.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Black Bean Salsa Salad

Prep time including “brining”: 6-8 hours. Cooking time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Buttermilk “Brine”
  • 300ml carton of buttermilk
  • 14 “mini” chicken drumsticks (the drumettes of chicken wings” or small chicken thigh cutlets, skin on
  • 1 teaspoon good quality paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chicken spice (I use Robertson’s South African spice mix)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Spice Crust:

  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • Wok or deep frying pan

1. Place chicken in large bowl, then add all the spices and mix well. Then cover with buttermilk and mix well again. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 6 hours.

After 6 hours of brining in buttermilk and spices

2. Put Spice Crust ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Pre-heat oven to 225 degrees Celsius.

3. Heat oil until shimmering. I used a wok as it creates a well for semi-deep frying without having to use as much oil.

4. Drop a few dollops of the buttermilk brining mixture into the flour mixture. This will create some clumps of flour and bread crumbs to create more “cragginess” on the chicken coating.

5. Add 3-4 chicken drumsticks to the spice crust mixture and coat thickly. This will be easy as the buttermilk coating on the chicken acts like a glue for the flour breadcrumb crust mixture

6. Put battered chicken into oil and fry on each side side for 3-4 minutes, lowering heat a little to enable chicken to cook through and the crust to go golden brown rather than burn.

7. Place first batch of fried chicken on baking paper lined oven tray and put into oven whilst you batter and fry the rest. Repeat steps 5-7 for rest of the chicken., frying the last batch slightly longer as the6 won’t have as much time in the oven.

8. Remove chicken from oven 3-4 minutes after the last batch is fried. You can remove first tow batches earlier if you like so they don’t get overcooked

9. Serve immediately with salads or wrap in foil to transport to picnic after allowing to cool slightly so crust doesn’t become soggy.