Cooking in Timor-Leste
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Sep 20, 2012 4:06 AM Last Post By: tribolite
Sep 18, 2012 12:56 AM
Cooking in Timor-LesteHi there,
I'm interested in some cooking ideas (if you can spare them) as I've recently relocated to Timor-Leste and some things are a bit harder to come by than others.
The local markets seem to have plenty of the following:
- tomatoes (usually small)
- avocados (often slightly brown and stringy inside)
- cucumbers (chunky, watery ones with plenty of seeds)
- asian greens
- thai basil
- garlic, chilli, onions
- potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots
- celery stalks/leaves
Frozen chickens are cheap ($2) and small fish can be bought off the side of the road.
I haven't seen any or much:
- fresh coriander (found once in a supermarket)
- basil, parsley or other fresh herbs (trying to obtain some seeds at the moment to grow my own)
- red meat
- zucchini (have seen a couple)
- cous cous (every so often at the supermarket)
- cheese (there's some, mostly plastic, cheddar or mozzarella and it's expensive)
- yoghurt (but can make my own)
- decent bread
- mangoes (not the season yet)
I've managed to get my hands on most dry herbs as well as flour, pasta, eggs, etc. There's not much good milk around but there is UHT milk. So far I've been making mostly salads and curries. I eat rice and Timorese/Indonesian food during the day but I'd love some inspiration for interesting dinners/breakfasts.
Only if you feel like sharing...
Sep 18, 2012 2:01 AM
1Can you get fish sauce? if so, you could make some Thai inspired salads with a dressing made from one bird's eye chilli pasted with a pinch of salt, optional pinch of sugar and a tablespoon of fish sauce. Use that as a dressing for some grilled or poached shredded chicken on a bed of chopped tomatoes, peeled and deseeded cucumber and celery stalk. Garnish with celery leaf and thai basil and a squeeze of lime juice.
Or a laab style dish of minced chicken - make a basic paste of garlic, chilli, onions, celery leaves, white pepper, salt, perhaps some finely chopped lime zest.. Stir fry that, season it with fish sauce and sugar, add in some diced potato and when that's nearly cooked through add some chopped chicken.
This is all off the top of my head stuff.
Edited by: Myanmarbound to add stuff about limes.
Sep 18, 2012 3:32 AM
2Grilled/baked/deep fried seafood/fish either plain with a bit of veg/peanut/palm oil or marinated with diced/pureed garlic,shallots,tumeric,chillie flakes,ginger,pepper corn,dark soy sauce,palm sugar and a bit of coconut cream.
Stir fry "kangkong" with "sambal balacan"(dried/salted fermented prawn paste cake)with pounded fresh red chillies,dried shrimps,shallots,garlic and a spoonful of "tau cho"(salty fermented soy beans).
Sep 18, 2012 6:52 AM
Sep 18, 2012 6:37 PM
4How about a microwaved potato torte? In a 2-quart clear glass round casserole, Layer sliced potatoes, olive oil, dried herb Italian seasoning (e.g., basil, rosemary,parsley, oregano, salt & pepper), sliced onions, fresh or canned (drained) diced tomatoes, shredded cheese (optional - use parmesean, mozzarella, provolone or some mix of the 3) repeat 3-4 times. Cover & microwave about 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Colorful. Also good with mashed potatoes instead of sliced – mix with 3-4 eggs & the cheeses.
I've made this many times without the cheese, and it is still great.
Also sent you a PM with recipe for Savory Sweet Potato Pan Bread which looks like it fits your available ingredients list. From a Betty Crocker 2001 recipe booklet.
Edited by: Midwesterner
Sep 19, 2012 8:37 AM
5MMB - that sounds fantastic. Will try at least one of those ideas this week as I have located and purchased fish sauce! Thanks a mill.
tribolite - I just marinated and cooked a fish almost exactly as you described. It was great although I'm not sure I purchased the best fish (even though I bought it at 7am and it looked/smelled ok then). Think I need to interrogate these street sellers a bit more! ;) Will keep an eye out for sambal balacan and tau cho. I'm guessing these are packaged items found in the supermarket?
sashac - I've found rice vinegar and peanuts so that's definitely an option. And who knows, I might strike gold with coriander again - I just haven't figured out the best days to go to each supermarket. Shopping here is a rather in depth memory game. So far I've been to 4 different supermarkets on 12 different days and I found coriander once (and the same supermarket didn't have it again when I went back the same day the following week). It's killing me but I'm determined to suss it out! ;)
Midwesterner - you're a star, thank you! Unfortunately I don't have a microwave (they exist here but most people have just the two burner, gas bottle stoves) but I might try it with mash and cook it on the stove briefly as an experiment. I'm also going to buy an electric oven thing next week - I'm getting a bit impatient with just two burners.
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Am hungrier than ever...
Sep 19, 2012 2:44 PM
6If you have an electric oven type thingie - can you use the pasta to make a variation of lasagne with tomato as the topping if cheese is difficult/expensive. Spag Bog made with chicken not mince?
Our staff used to go to TL and loved the place, but did comment that the menu got a little monotonous.
Sep 19, 2012 2:51 PM
7I know how you feel stanley. Although I can always find coriander, since I moved to New Mexico there's other stuff I either can't find or can't always find. For example: the whole grain flax waffles I used to eat for breakfast all the time - the natural food store in town will sell them to me but I would have to buy a case (of 12 boxes) and they would be over $1.00 more per box than what I paid in Maryland, which I just can't bring myself to do. Not to mention the complete lack of a decent bagel around here!
Sep 20, 2012 4:06 AM
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