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By Dina Yuen, Glenn Chu

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Example text

Along with my parents and siblings, I became a seasoned traveler and eater, going from the finest, world class dining establishments in five diamond hotels such as Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Aman Resorts and Mandarin Oriental to frequenting hole-in-the-wall restaurants only locals have known for decades. I ate Indonesian Rijstaffel in its finest presentations on delicate China with linen tablecloths and I ate Es Campur and Bakmi Baso on the streets of Jakarta and Surabaya, (the latter experiences when my mother was not around as she would be terrified of my contracting some dreadful malady from dirty water).

Make sure that the surface of the mortar is dry before placing the ingredients on it. When working with garlic or fresh chili peppers, a helpful trick is to sprinkle a little salt and/or sugar on top before mashing. The salt and sugar act as an abrasive helping to break everything down. Never pound the pestle in an up and down motion like you would with a meat pounder because of splattering. The Indonesian pestle has a curved structure, designed for angled and long strokes. Be firm with each stroke of the pestle against the mortar, almost as if you’re dragging the ingredients along while firmly pushing down.

Higher heat will result in browning and crisping exteriors quickly while interiors will remain relatively raw. A higher heat setting works for deep-frying dishes such as Banana Fritters (Pisang Goreng) because the banana is already cooked; you just want to brown and crisp the outside batter, which takes relatively little time. Conversely, an ingredient as substantial as chicken breast needs much longer cooking time at lower temperatures to ensure that the inside is thoroughly cooked while the outside doesn’t burn too quickly.

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