What is it about skewered meat cooked over coals that gets the juices flowing? It’s gotta be one of the best street food snacks in Southeast Asia.
Memories of frantic markets, traffic-choked streets, high humidity, pungent stench wafting from drains …
“Sir ! … you like musssage?”
… and then you get to those dim laneways covered with a makeshift canvas roof, cooking steam and smoke billowing out, a toothless old man tossing food in a wok or young girl turning delicate skewers over a trough filled with hot coals, aromas of smoky-sweet caramelized meat filling your nose and lungs. Absolute heaven. This is the kind of place I always pull up one of those filthy plastic stools, park my posterior and hand out a few rupee, baht, or ringgit for unbounded gastronomic gratification.
It’s just a shame I need a passport for this kind of pleasure. If it weren’t for the Health Department and occupational safety, maybe we could have this here in Sydney.
Here’s one of these street food classics I’ve just made for dinner. It’s not as difficult as it looks.
In a bowl mix the coconut and 1 tablespoon of water to moisten. Add all other ingredients, except the lamb, and mix well. Add the lamb and marinate for at least four hours.
Wash the rice and then cook in boiling salted water for 20 minutes. Drain well and place in a bowl to cool. Stir through a good spinkling of fried shallots.
Traditionally banana leaves are used here but I used foil. Roll pieces of foil to form a cylinder (wrap around a rolling pin to get the shape) about 5cm in diameter. Fold one end to enclose and twist to secure. Spoon rice mixture into the cylinders, pushing down as you go and twist the end to secure tightly.
Place parcels, seam side down, side by side, in a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Cover and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Drain and transfer to a tray and set aside for 1 hour to cool to room temperature.
Place peanuts in a mortar and pound until finely crushed.
In a small saucepan add all other ingredients and stir over low heat, adding the ground peanuts, and bringing to a simmer. Stir well and remove from heat.
After pre-soaking the bamboo skewers for at least 20 minutes, thread pieces of the lamb onto them. Char-grill over a high flame for a few minutes until caramelized yet slightly undercooked in the centre.
To serve, cut the lontong into pieces and arrange onto a platter.
Drizzle some coconut milk over them as well as some kecap manis. Top with lamb skewers and drizzle them with the peanut sauce. Scatter fried shallots over.
As a side dish you can serve chunks of cucumber and raw onion.