Go for Goreng at Bubu’s, Penestanan

Fried and roasted chicken has had a resurgence the world over. It is on menus from New York to Sydney to Bali in one form or another …southern fried chicken, chicken karaage, chicken popcorn etc…

Ayam Goreng or Fried Chicken is of course an absolute Indonesian staple and classic. Unlike Southern Fried Chicken, it is not cooked in batter but marinated and most often twice cooked in a rich mix of spices. The crispy fried floss mixture known as “kremes” served with it is traditionally made by adding extra grated galangal or coconut while frying.

The Ayam Goreng at Bubu’s Warung in Penestanan has a definite Balinese twist marinated in Balinese spices and with grated coconut to add crunch to the kremes…or “fried floss” that accompanies the chicken making it super tasty. Next time we go I am going to see if they will share the recipe with me!

We always also ask for Balinese Sambal Matah which they freshly make – a hot and tangy combo of eschallots, lemongrass, chilli and coconut oil that goes perfectly with the fried chicken. See my previous post https://freespiritfood.net/2018/01/02/balinese-sambal-matah-fresh-raw-chilli-sambal/

Simple but delicious fare!

Bubu Warung, Jalan Penestanan Raya, Penestanan, Ubud

Baked Eggs with Merguez Sausages and Chilli

Looking for a spicy start to the new year? Here’s my take on middle-eastern eggs with Lamb Merguez sausages made at our local butcher. (Nick’s Meats at Edgecliff Shopping. Centre for those of you who live in Sydney.)

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (2 servings)

3 large merguez sausages
1 red onion halved then sliced
1/2 teaspoon cummin powder
2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1-red chillies finely chopped
1-2 tomatoes halved or if using only one, then cut into 4 thick slices
4 teaspoons butter
Olive oil
coriander to garnish
Pita bread or tortillas to serve


1. Cook merguez sausages in a frying pan on medium heat 10-15 minutes until cooked.Rest and then cut into thick diagonal slices.

2. meanwhile heat 2-3 tablespoons of oilive oil in a separate frying pan, then fry garlic until crispy, add onions and chillies and fry until onions are slightly caramelised and translucent.

3. Remove onions and add tomatoes to the same pan, adding a bit more oilive oil if needed. sprinkle each side of the tomatoes with a pinch of cummin powder and salt as you are cooking them. You don’t want the tomatoes to break up, just brown on each side and keep their shape.

4. Place half the onions, tomatoes, sausages to reheat in a medium size frying pan or 2 seperate ovenproof dishes (leaving 2 “holes” for the eggs), add 2 teaspoons of butter to the pan, then break 2 eggs into the holes and swivel the pan or dish gently to allow egg white to reach edges of pan.

5. Place pan under hot grill and bake until eggs are cooked to your liking, preferably leaving yolks runny, garnish with coriander, eat with warm pita bread or tortillas.

Tomato Curry Sauce ..with hard boiled eggs

Simple but very satisfying! Having tomato curry sauce (or tomato chutney as it is sometimes referred to) in the freezer means you can quickly whip up all sorts of easy meals using the sauce as a base. Just add boiled eggs or meatballs or a tin of beans and hey presto! Dinner is served.

Here’s the recipe for the sauce.

Tomato Curry Sauce

2 large onions finely diced
5 large fresh ripe tomatoes diced

400g can of diced tomatoes
1 handful of curry leaves
1.5 teaspoon cummin seeds
2 sticks of cinnamon (preferabley cinnamon bark available in Indian grocers but quills are fine if not)
5 cloves of garlic and equal amount of fresh ginger peeled
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1.5 teaspoons cummin powder
1 teaspoon salt (or to your taste)

1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups chicken stock (or water)
Coriander to garnish
Vegetable oil

Heat vegetable oil in medium size heavy based pan which has a lid
Add cummin seeds, curry leaves and cinnamon sticks and heat gently until fragrant
Add onions and cook gently until transparent
Add ginger and garlic and heat through
Add all powdered spices: chilli powder, turmeric, cummin powder, salt and sugar and mix through for 2 minutes.

Add fresh and canned tomatoes, cooking for 2-3 minutes, stirring to avoid tomato mixture burning.

Add 1 cup chicken stock/water and bring to a boil, then lower heat and then simmer for 20-25 minutes, adding more chicken stock/water as required to make sure the tomatoes break down but don’t stick to the bottom.

Halve quantity to serve 2 people or use whole quantity for 4 people. Freezes well.

Add hard boiled eggs, canned beans, tuna or meatballs and serve with rice or rotis to make a meal. Here’s the link to the meatball recipe With the same base in lesser quantity https://freespiritfood.net/2017/04/17/durban-indian-meatballs-in-tomato-curry-sauce/

Hurry into Uncle Chop Chop, NYC

Chop chop” means “hurry” and suggests that something should be done now and without delay.

Uncle Chop Chop is one of the hottest new restaurants in New York that is already attracting 5 star reviews from early visitors for very good reason. Opened by two brothers from Australia, Callum and Morgan, Uncle Chop Chop is a laid-back but sophisticated take on Asian Fusion in the heart of West Village.

Uncle Chop, Chop – 7 Cornelia Street, NYC https://www.unclechopchopnyc.com

The atmosphere is one of a buzzy buzzy Asian “chophouse” and bar and the style reflects the charming, laid-back hospitality of Australians. Here you can enjoy great food in a warm and relaxed atmosphere. Great for groups of friends!

The menu is a superb mix of salads, grills, appetisers and curries with the freshest ingredients and scintillating flavours. The accompanying sauces, jams and broths are perfectly balanced and add just the right touch of spice.

Dishes are generous and designed to share allowing diners to sample a wide range of the menu. Another reason why it is great for group dining.

We feasted on Green Papaya Salad with Scud Chili, Peanuts, Tamarind; Corn & Squash Fritters with Tomato Chili Jam, Iceberg lettuce; Dumplings with Rick and Morty Szechuan Sauce, Special Fried Chicken and Steamed Snapper with Bok Choy, Ginger-Soy Broth.

All the dishes were spectacular as were the cocktails, especially the Passion Pop with passionfruit pulp, cachaca and chartreuse.

And the Steam Date Pudding with Palm Sugar Syrup and coconut transported us back to Asia, it was a divine end to super delicious meal.

The service is friendly, fast and informative. Our waiter knew all about the menu and the ingredients and was able to guide us on how much to order. Mind you we were very full but very satisfied after our eating expedition.

In a city where Asian Fusion is not as easy to find as in Australia, Uncle Chop Chop is a standout!

So Chop Chop and hurry over ….bookings are essential already.

Uncle Chop, Chop – 7 Cornelia Street, NYC https://www.unclechopchopnyc.com


Chop chop” is a phrase rooted in Cantonese. It spread through Chinese workers at sea and was adopted by English seamen.[1] “Chop chop” means “hurry” and suggests that something should be done now and without delay. The word “chopsticks” likely originates from this same root.[2]

Vietnamese turmeric and dill fish – Ca Ca La Vong at home –

When we were in Hanoi recently we visited the 200 year old restaurant Ca Ca La Vong to try their famed eponymous fish dish. We went to the original restaurant climbing up a ladder- like wooden staircase to reach the upstairs dining room:filled to the brim with locals and tourists enjoying the only dish offered on the menu.

Fish flavoured with turmeric, ginger and garlic and then sautéed with dill and onions, it was simple but absolutely delicious. The fish is brought sizzling on a gas cooktop to the table and fresh herbs are added before serving yourself with rice noodles, peanuts and spicy sauce.

Of course I had to try to recreate it at home which I did last night with some success. I trawled a few versions of the recipe online, including one from Anthony Bourdain, I settled for a hybrid. We also didn’t have rice noodles at home so I served with steamed jasmine rice …just as good.

Here are some pictures from the restaurant itself:

And here is my recipe:

Prep and marination time: 2.5 hours Cooking time: 20 minutes

4 cloves garlic
1 large knob of ginger (at least equivalent to amount of garlic)
1/2 red onion finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional but authentic)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1.5 tablespoons fish sauce

For cooking:
750kg swordfish or ling fillets
2 onions finely sliced
2 cloves garlic finely sliced
1 bunch of dill chopped into medium long pieces
3 stalks of spring onions chopped diagonally
1/2 bunch of coriander chopped roughly
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Chilli sauce:
2 cloves garlic
2 red chillies
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup of water

To serve:
Rice noodles or jasmine rice
Roasted crushed peanuts
Lettuce leaves for parcels
chilli sauce(see above) or chilli oil
Vietnamese coleslaw or Salad of your choosing


1. To make marinade, pound ginger, garlic and onion in mortar and pestle or process to a paste. Add rest of the ingredients.

2. Cut fish into 2cm or so pieces, then smother in marinade and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. Half an hour before cooking fish, cook rice and/or soak rice noodles in warm water according to cooking instructions on packet. Also prepare the rest of the herbs for cooking and make the chilli sauce if making.

4. Heat oil in heavy based frying pan, add fish and cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes to a golden brown. Remove fish with a slotted spoon to a seperate dish.

5. Add onions and garlic to remaining oil and cook until softened and starting to caramelise, then Add half the dill (the hardier stem bits) and the white parts of the spring onions, heat through, then add the fish back in and heat through for 1-2 minutes.

6. Garnish with the rest of herbs and serve with peanuts, rice or rice noodles, lettuce leaves and side salad.

Serves 3-4

2018 Turkey and Prawn pad Thai

This year’s version triple the original recipe ….absolute fave with the “hungry” hoards on a Boxing Day.

Here’s the link to the original recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson’s recipe in her Feast cookbook.