The second cookbook by British food writer Eleanor Ford, Fire Islands is Ford's re-visitation of her childhood travelling in Indonesia with her father. Written with the passion of a world-traveler and the nostalgia for childhood memories, it is an exciting addition to the relatively scarce collection of Indonesian cookbooks.
Once the only place where nutmeg and clove grew, the Indonesian islands' mineral-rich volcanic soil and wet, tropical climate are the secret ingredients to an archipelago of abundance, luring traders for centuries. With thousands of islands spanning over 3,000 miles from east to west, Indonesian cuisine and taste preferences are as varied as the landscapes, religions, and cultures.
The recipes in Fire Islands originate with home-cooking traditions and are designed around sharing a few small plates, customarily served with rice. Most recipes are followed by menu suggestions for accompanying dishes. Chapters are curated with texture and flavor in mind (crunchy, rich and creamy, dry and aromatic, tangy, bitter, umami, etc.), which further encourage the mixing and matching of dishes for a flavorful meal that hits all the tastebuds and craveable elements. Long lists of ingredients are no surprise for cuisine coming from a country with a region known as the "spice islands," but the requisite spices are likely already in a well-stocked pantry, and the fresh ingredients called for are becoming more commonly available in local grocery stores.
Try the coconut-y, lime-y potato tuturuga with stir-fried vegetables (rica rodo) and spicy pork ribs with a "heavy use of chili...that hits you with shouts, not whispers." Or perhaps beef rendang served over an aromatic, spiced rice. Try Javanese sea bass and spinach curry with sweetcorn rice. Padang-style eggs (boiled eggs simmered in a coconut-lemongrass sauce) can be served with spiced tempeh and chili-fried crunchy potatoes for a hearty, flavorful vegetarian meal.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.