Mention Indonesian cuisine and most likely, beef rendang comes to mind.
But Rinrin Marinka—chef, cookbook author and restaurateur—offers another viewpoint. “Our cuisine is very broad in terms of flavors and culture. It’s very diverse and unique that you can’t encapsulate the cuisine with just rendang,” she says.
Born in Jakarta, Rinrin fell in love with cooking at a young age. Though other hobbies got in the way, she went on to study French cuisine and pâtiserrie at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney.
Returning to Indonesia, she immersed herself in its food industry and started teaching culinary courses, appearing in cooking shows, and writing her first book, “Fantastic Cooking.”
In her current TV stint, “Wonderful Indonesian Flavors” aired on the Asian Food Channel and the Travel Channel, Rinrin takes on the role of a tour guide as she shows fellow chefs Tobie Puttock and Darren Robertson, both from Australia, the beauty and variety of Indonesian cuisine. She brings them to some of the most remote regions of that country, appreciating the charm of the places, the people’s warm hospitality, or the interesting food specialties.
In Malang, for example, they ride a becak (pedicab) while looking for hidden gems, discovering local favorites like ketan, a sweet treat made of black glutinous rice and coconut milk.
At the provincial capital of South Sulawesi, Makassar, they enjoy the pristine beaches as well as the coto makassar, a stew of nuts, spices, and beef intestines.
It’s too hard pin down just one place as a favorite that Rinrin covered in the show, but she managed to trim it down to three: “Malang, because my dad is from there, and I also like the climate. In Solo, there are lots of antique markets and I like that the city is very mellow. Tomohon is also like that, but has a lot more nature.”
Although it was her task to bring the Aussie chefs around, Rinrin herself was glad to discover the vastness and variety of Indonesian culture and food, like the garang asam bumbung, a dish cooked in a bamboo and was once served only in royal palaces.
The experience adds proof that there certainly is much more to Indonesian cuisine than just rendang.
“Wonderful Indonesia Flavours” starts airing on the Asian Food Channel on Jan. 7, 9 p.m., and on Travel Channel, Jan. 29, 8:40 p.m.
This dessert is close to Rinrin’s heart as it reminds her of New Year’s Eve affairs where her family feasts over good food.
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients for the Ronde:
2 drops red food coloring
2 drops green food coloring
135 ml warm water
¼ tsp salt
150 g rice flour
Ingredients for the Ronde stuffing:
25 g sugar
1/8 tsp salt
50 g peanuts (without skin), roasted and crushed
Ingredients for the warm ginger syrup:
6 pcs lemongrass, crushed
400 g ginger, crushed
400 g sugar
4 pcs panda leaves
2 liters water
1 tsp salt
3 pcs white bread, diced
25 g pearl sago, cooked
200 g lychee
1) Blend the ingredients for the stuffing until slightly coarse. Set aside.
2) To make the ronde, mix the rice flour and salt in a bowl. Add the warm water and knead until the dough becomes hard.
3) Divide the dough into three. Mix the red food coloring in one, the green on another, and leave the last one as is, white.
4) Form the dough into balls and fill it with the peanut stuffing. Place in boiling water and cook. Once it floats, it’s done. Remove from water, drain and set aside.
5) To make the ginger syrup, boil water in pot. Reduce heat. Mix in sugar, ginger, pandan leaves and lemongrass. Remove from heat once water again boils. Set aside.
6) To serve, place cooked ronde in a bowl with sago. Serve with bread and lychee. Pour ginger syrup.