Smoking and curing are known way to preserve meat, as well as probably the most favorite ones. These procedures enhance the flavor of the meat to the max, making it more enjoyable to eat. And normally, when we hear about smoked beef, we might think if that comes from Europe or America. The answer, not really. Smoking is popular in many cultures and traditions throughout the globe, including Indonesia.
In Eastern Indonesia, specifically in Kupang (Timor Island), Nusa Tenggara Timur, there’s a smoked meat product called se’i (from Rote language: to slice the meat in thin strips). Originally, as it is a game food, venison is used. But now, because there is a restriction on deer hunting for conservation, either pork or beef are used. Sometimes, chicken and fish are also good for options.
To make se’i, the normal ingredients like table salt (NaCl) and saltpeter/curing salt (KNO3) are used as flavor enhancer and preserving agent against unwanted microbes, respectively. But, the real magic comes from a specific tree, which leaves and woods used for smoking the se’i. The tree is called, kesambi or kosambi (Schleichera oleosa (Lour.) Oken, which belongs to family Sapindaceae, a cousin of Rambutan), also known as Makassar oil tree, or Ceylon Oak. Somehow, in a reason I don’t really know, smoking with this plant materials gives se’i its distinctive flavor and aroma, as well as giving it the reddish surface color.
Unfortunately for me, I haven’t had a chance to go to Kupang to tell the real story. So instead, I visited a restaurant, which specifically selling this smoked meat goodness in Bandung, that only takes me a moment by train from Jakarta (the travel duration would be the same, but you spend only IDR 100k (USD 8) to Bandung, IDR 1.1 million (USD 80) to Kupang).
I ordered the se’i sapi (beef se’i) and se’i ayam (chicken se’i), using the traditional sambal lu’at (sambal or spicy condiment from Kupang, with chili, tomato, and coriander leaves) and sambal matah (sambal made of chili and lemongrass, quite trendy now in Indonesia). Ah, and when we ordered se’i, it seems to be common if it served with rice, a lemony clear broth, and sauteed papaya (Carica papaya L.) flowers. This time, not only the flowers, but also sauteed papaya leaves.
The taste is awesome. The beef one used brisket meat (if I correct), making it layered with fat, enhancing the flavor. It tastes like normal smoked beef, but the smokiness is stronger, as it was just smoked. We normally eat meat with something sour, right, so we used sauces like barbecue sauce. Sambal lu’at has the spicy and sour kick that we need, the coriander boost the flavor even more. Sambal matah is also good, but too spicy for me and it conceal the smokey goodness of the se’i. The broth is good if you add it a bit to the rice, giving more lemon flavor with a hint of meat stock flavor to it. For the sauteed leaves, I like the bites in it and the perfect saltiness add to it. As it is part of papaya plant (it has bitter latex), I’d say that they cook it perfectly.
Final verdict, sambal lu’at is the best condiment for se’i. I like the beef one, but preferably I like the chicken more. Because the beef se’i is kinda shrinking and drier when it served, while the chicken (also I like chicken) is still meaty and succulent, although the beef has stronger smokey flavor.
P.S.: Other than regular beef meat and chicken meat, they also selling se’i of beef tongue (it is much softer and has smoother texture) and beef ribs (rib eye meat) (which has even more denser beef flavor).
SE’I SAPI LAMALERA
- Mushalla (praying room) – Available
- Debit card – Available
- Se’i Sapi with Sambal Lu’at – Regular Size (IDR 20k)
- Se’i Ayam with Sambal Matah – Regular Size (IDR 15k)
- Because the price is very affordable for students, this place is packed with people for lunch, plan your trip wisely so you can get a seat!
- You can buy the 1/4, 1/2, and 1 Kg of the Se’i here. The 1 Kg beef se’i was about IDR 150k
Man, it has been more than one year since I wrote my last article. I supposed to write this one down in August 2016, but apparently due to a hectic transition of myself, I had to prioritize some other things first and I haven’t had any time to write this down.
Okay, so short story, I went back from Finland to Indonesia and I have to search for another place, somewhere in this world to continue my PhD, while now I become a teacher for university preparation school in Jakarta, where I teach high school students for biology subject. Back to topic, some moments before I went back to Indonesia, my good friend, Kofi from Ghana, taught me how to cook a special dish originated from his home country! Here it is:
At first glance, I thought it was a bit confusing why there are some European spices, rice, and tomato are like gathered together in a potluck, then I realized the backstory of Swedish colonization in Ghana. Much like the cultural exchange between Indonesia and Netherlands (mentioned in my old article written in Bahasa Indonesia).
As I remember, you only need some chopped ginger, garlic, onion, chopped tomato (or bottled Marinara sauce), tomato paste, oregano, some salt and pepper, and also chicken for additional topping and Basmati rice as major ingredients. To mash the ginger and garlic, you can use pestle and mortar, or you can go traditional and use Ghanaian Ayewa instead!
First, boil some chicken legs, add some salt and pepper.
Chop the ginger, onion, and garlic for sautéing. Mash more chopped garlic and ginger, and add into the boiled chicken for extra flavor. Roast the chicken for later topping for rice, and leave the stock for making tomato sauce, keep boiling until more oil appeared on the surface.
Hot the pan, pour some olive oil, add the garlic and ginger, and then the onion. Add some pepper and salts.
Add chopped tomato and tomato paste into the pan, sprinkle the dried oregano. Pour some of the chicken stocks, reduce it until the oil separated on top of the pan.
Add the oil from tomato reduction and some of the tomato sauce part into the rice cooker bowl. Pour the uncooked rice, and mix well. Add some frozen vegetables if desired.
Cook the rice on rice cooker. Alternatively, you can cook it on stove as well, although it will be longer to done.
Assemble the chicken, sauce, and rice.
It will be like this:
Part 1 – PaF International Food Night
Part 2 – Peruvian Lunch and Bunny Chow
Part 3 – Venezuelan Street Foods
Part 4 – Medieval Dishes
For me, I feel sad to leave Turku. The place is really inspiring, calm, and I also have a lot of good friend there. Before I went off from Finland, my good friends, Diosa and Jens made a memorable farewell party of Venezuelan street food! Venezuela is Diosa’s home country. I was very excited at the moment because like I said in the previous blog article, Southern American food is something new and rare for me! As in my previous review on my Peruvian lunch, Venezuelan food has similarities with them as they also mainly use corn as their basic ingredients.
The center of attention would be this arepa. This maize-based bread is staple in Venezuela and it’s good to eat it like we normally eat sandwich. Interestingly, it has nice corn fragrance and aftertaste. To eat the arepa, we mixed it wit some other stuffs:
Reina Papiada, Carne Mechada and Caraotas Negras served as main fillings of the arepa this time. Reina Papiada is a pulled chicken tights, mixed with creamy avocado sauce consists of onion, leek, garlic, mayonnaise, corn oil, salt , and pepper. Carne Mechada is pulled beef with tomato sauce. Caraotas Negras is black bean and pork. To make them taste better, we add them with cheese, or some sauces.
Sweet Corn Sauce (top) and Bacon Sauce (bottom)
Sweet corn sauce, bacon sauce, and Guasacaca are the creamy sauces. Of all, Guasacaca is the most known sauce traditionally from Southern America, including Venezuela. It’s composed mainly of avocado, lemon juice, and garlic. For me, sweet corn sauce will be nice to combine with Reina Papiada, while Guasacaca is for Carne Mechada. I didn’t eat the Caraotas Negras and bacon sauce since I’m not eating pork. The combination of chicken and corn, and beef and Guasacaca are truly amazing!
Arepa + Reina Papiada + Corn sauce + cheese
Arepa + Guasacaca + Carne Mechada + Cheese
Other than the Arepa mixes, Diosa and Jens made us this…
Ensalada de Gallina (SP: Chicken Salad)
Ensalada de Gallina is a fresh pulled chicken salad made of pulled chicken tights, leek, onion, potato, carrots, asparagus, and more. It has rich flavor but really fresh to eat as an appetizer or in-between meals.
Alfajores de Maizena
The sandwich version.
Alfajores de Maizena is corn-based cookies. We ate them as whole, or mixed like sandwich, bound with dulce de leche (milk-caramel-based sauce) and sprinkled with shaved coconut. For a sweet tooth like me, it tastes amazing! I love the sweetness of the caramel and the corn, and the fragrance of the corn popping out from the cookies!
I had a wonderful last lunch with my friends that afternoon. I wish I can see them again in the future…
My special thanks to Jens and Diosa! Wish to see you guys again in Japan! 😉
Part 1 – PaF International Food Night
Part 2 – Peruvian Lunch and Bunny Chow
Part 4 – Medieval Dishes
Part 5 – African Jollof Rice
Finally… after passing some jet lag and some adaptational time here, now I’m got to go and ready to write my culinary experience here! But of course, placing some transitional meals here would be really nice, don’t you guys think so?
Okay then… on that January 21st night until January 22nd in the morning of Eastern European time, I made my long journey of more 10,000 Km (it’s ¼ of the globe!) with total around 16 hours of flight hours! For the first flight between Indonesia and Netherlands, I was in GA Flight 88 for more than 13 hours. Thank God for the awesome and cozy Boeing 777-300 ER and cool flight crews to flew it really smooth, in addition of there’s nobody seating next to me in the 3 seats (which in some moments become really sad), I could lean my feet and the rest of my body to sleep! And, you know what… I had my stomach really full up there!
For flying with GA 88, there are 2 segments of flight: CGK (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Banten-Jakarta, Indonesia) to SIN (Changi International Airport, Singapore), then SIN to AMS (Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Netherlands). By total, there are 4 sets of meals on my way to AMS.
About inflight food, I heard before they said that it cooked a bit spicier to balance the condition during high atmospherical lower pressure that affect human taste bud to make it sense less than normal.
From outside: Fruit cuts, bread and butter, and coffee cake.
Farfalle Fish and Prawn.
From CGK to SIN, the offers were chicken and rice or fish pasta, I took the fish pasta. It tastes nice, the pasta is not overcook, although the fish is too few. But the taste from the prawn make a lift on the dish. I also like the cake!
From SIN to AMS, there are 3 courses… well, actually 2 plus 1 snack time. The menu was given after we took off from SIN.
From outside: Brownies, bread and butter, fruit cuts.
Miso broth and guava juice.
Pan seared snapper with potato and veggies.
Option for this time, Hainan rice with grilled chicken or pan seared fish. I, again, took the fish. I like the fish and its mild flavored sauce. Although if it has more spice, it will be better… I remembered that people from Europe are tend to prefer milder flavor. For the brownies, it’s nice! They also offered the miso broth… well, broth… because there is no seaweed nor tofu inside. But I like it simple like that because it wouldn’t give much extra to my stomach, but it kept me warm (it’s -69ºC outside you know!).
Then… I took a long (supposedly) sleep time for more than 10 hours. I spent some of it to watch some series in the inflight TV. At the same time, the flight attendant gave me 2 bottles of mineral water and 2 smoked beef sandwich. I couldn’t get the picture because it’s dark.
Half an hour before landing to AMS, we had our final meals… the option: Western style omelette or chicken satay with rice. As I don’t like egg, I took the chicken rice.
From outside: Fruit cuts, yoghurt (YEAH!), croissant and butter… and miso broth.
I’m sorry… I was too hungry (really??) at the time.
The chicken satay is actually out of the skewer sticks and for me, the combination between it and the peanut sauce are more like curry (I tasted the flavor of cumin and some spices, unlike in simple peanut sauce). But I like curry, so this one is one good shot!
Then… we landed… I wanted to try some food over AMS, but my flight transfer schedule was too short.
But hey! I still had a flight from AMS to HEL (Helsinki-Vantaa Airport), KLM Flight 1167.
The warm box.
Once we were airborne, the flight attendants gave us this warm box… at first, I was hopping that it has no pork inside…
Smoked Turkey Pretzel Sandwich with Mascarpone and Melted Emmental Cheese
Lucky enough… it’s turkey… even better, it’s smoked turkey! Even better again… it’s on pretzel and bunch of mouth watering cheese!!
Hello… smoked turkey!
The taste? Fabulous!!
I got a glass of orange juice for my drink. Brrr… it’s cold outside. I was worried because I could see ice crystal forming in my window. But well… I had nice and warm food inside! And for extra, I got 2 of these lemon cake!
Yummm… although honestly I already felt quite lonely on the trip, feeling far away from my family, my friend… and my girlfriend, Ghea… I feel that my next 9 months of journey in Finland will be awesome! It’s for food… and science!