Chef Emil Bali Style

Watching a man cook is satisfying on many levels. First, it means that I’m not cooking. On second thought, forget the others.  That’s all that really matters! So when Sudi hailed me from his garden, “Tonight I make Laksa. I’ll teach you. Come at 6.”  I jumped at the opportunity.

At 5:59 I appear with a notebook and my camera. Good things are already happening in his kitchen. He has done some prep work and the Laksa show begins.

This is a bowl of freshly grated coconut. Sudi has already squeezed out the cream and now he's working on the milk.

This is a bowl of freshly grated coconut. Sudi has already squeezed out the cream and now he’s working on the milk. Sometime before that, he grated a whole coconut.

He tells me I can use vermecelli or rice noodles but he likes the yellow ones.

He tells me I can use vermicelli, rice noodles, any kind, but he likes the yellow curly ones.

There is a pot of chicken stock simmering on the range. The noodles are cooked last, he says. Then they’re placed in bowls and the Laksa is spooned over them.

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He minces and chops and the knife flies. If I got that close to my fingers I’d be missing a few!

About that time he pulls out the cookbook and shows me the recipe. I get excited until I notice it is written in Indonesian. Sudi patiently translates the ingredients for me and I write them in my notebook. The amounts are all there in liters and milliliters, grams, and so forth. Not much help to someone who only understands cups and teaspoons!

Four tablespoons of Thai red curry paste went in, one came back out. "Better to add more later," he decided.

Four tablespoons of Thai red curry paste go in, one comes back out. “Better to add more later,” he says.

The odor of Asian Fish Sauce fills permeates the kitchen. "Smell not so good now, but taste...mmmm...later!" He was so right.

The odor of Asian Fish Sauce permeates the kitchen. “Smell not so good now, but taste…mmmm…later!” He is so right.

Sudi turns down the heat and adds the coconut milk follwed by the cream

Sudi turns down the heat and adds the coconut milk follwed by the cream

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Stalks of lemongrass and whole kefir lime leaves are added to the broth to enhance the flavor.

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Just outside the free-standing outdoor kitchen where ‘we’ are hard at work, Nina and Dewi, Sudi’s wife and daughter, are doing an art project. The sidewalk is taking on new life!

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Back in the kitchen, Sudi has sliced the tofu which will be added toward the end with the prawns.

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There are always some translation issues, and when Sudi pulls out this bunch of fresh coriander I say, “Oh! Cilantro!” We don’t know for sure which it is, but it makes a beautiful and tasty garnish.

The noodles are cooked and in the bowl. The steaming Laksa gets spooned on top.

The noodles are cooked and in the bowl. The steaming Laksa gets spooned on top.

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The tofu and prawns have been added. Sudi sprinkles a handful of bean sprouts and coriander/cilantro,then with a flourish, tops it off with a half boiled egg.

Dewi approves!

Dewi approves!

And before we sit down to eat, Nina give the happy chef an appreciative hug.

And before we sit down to eat, Nina gives the happy chef an appreciative hug.

Sudi has outdone himself. The Laksa is divine. Will I be able to duplicate it? Never! But I’m willing to take a cooking class from him any time!

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