Sweet & Spicy Mushroom Tongseng
In the countryside of Central Java, not far from the dramatic marvel of the ninth-century temple of Borobudur, is the most surprising restaurant. Jejamuran has separate channels for entrance and exit with an airport-style check-in service. Inside, great halls of people are served nothing but mushrooms. Dishes from across Indonesia, from rendang to sate, are rendered beautifully in fungi. Our highlight was the richly spiced tongseng curry, which is more usually made with goat meat.
2 lime leaves
1 lemongrass stick, trimmed and bruised
2 cm galangal, skin scrubbed, bruised
1 tablespoon oil
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) oyster mushrooms
3 tablespoons thick coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons dark palm sugar (gula jawa), shaved
2 teaspoons kecap manis
1 1/2 large red chillies, seeded and sliced
1 ripe tomato, cut in wedges
Bumbu spice paste
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 small red Asian shallot, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 candlenut or 2 blanched almonds
1 cm ginger, peeled
1 cm turmeric, peeled, or 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Start by making the bumbu spice paste. For this small quantity I find this easiest to do with a pestle and mortar. Start with the coriander seeds and peppercorns, then add all the other ingredients and grind to a paste.
Put the bumbu in a large frying pan with the lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal. Drizzle in the oil and stir-fry until fragrant. Loosen the paste with a ladleful of water.
Add the mushrooms and turn to coat in the spices. Add the coconut milk, palm sugar and a good pinch of salt. Cook for 5–10 minutes. The mushrooms will release liquid as they fry. Towards the end of cooking, stir through the kecap manis, sliced chillies and tomato. Taste for seasoning.
From: Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford (£25, Murdoch Books) Image: Kristin Perers