Our First Food Shoot

W hen we first embarked on our culinary journey, we were not only interested in a food tour. We were looking for something different… a bit more challenging, something that only people dream of doing, but never end up acting on it. We were much more interested in learning to cook the dishes on our travels, first hand. When you stop and take the time to decipher which ingredients make up say, a green papaya salad (som tam), after a bit of practice you can train your palate to pick out exactly which ingredients are in there. But there is always that one secret ingredient that you just can’t seem to put your finger on. And you will never be able to replicate that particular dish precisely without seeing every process that is involved. It may be as simple as the way they cut their vegetables, or the manner in which they are pounded, torn or crushed. This is what we wanted to experience, and what better way to do that than to help create that dish in the country where it was born.

DSC_0056We started our trip in Indonesia, whose cuisine is a culinary melting pot of Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese and European. We travelled around the country and explored as many authentic foods our stomachs could handle. We paid for a cooking class in Ubud where the Chef of a popular restaurant walked us through the markets, talked about the ingredients and welcomed us into the restaurant where he showed us how to prepare some of the most traditional Balinese dishes. It was fun, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed just a little rehearsed. We decided then and there that the true place to find authentic dishes were at street food stalls or in the homes of locals who lived there.

 

 

Murtabak street stall

Murtabak street stall

It took a couple of weeks of hemming and hawing and building up the courage to ask a local street food vendor to show us their specialty, and film it. We were in the capital Jakarta and were flying out to Borneo, Malaysia the next day and we needed to at least cook one dish before leaving the country. After all, wasn’t this the whole point of our trip? While walking down the street we spotted a man just a bit older than us, with a small line up of costumers waiting impatiently while he prepared them their food. His specialty was “martabak”, which in Arabic means “folded”. After waiting for him to cook for his patrons, we muscled up the courage to ask him if he could show us. This was easier said than done as his English skills were no match for that of his martabak skills. Through broken English and sign language he seemed more than happy to show us, and that is exactly what he did. He started by mixing one chicken egg with one duck egg along with sliced green onions in a shiny stainless steel cup. He took pride in the way he mixed it and put on a show as if he were mixing a drink at one of the finest cocktail bars. The dough was soft and elastic and the artful manner in which he stretched it would put even the world’s best pizza chef to shame. He placed the dough in the hot wok to crisp while filling it with the egg mixture and ground mutton. After carefully folding it in to a perfect package and cutting it in to four, the dish was complete. Now it was my turn to try my hand at his dish and I had soon found out that it was much more difficult than it looked. We quickly realized that this man had made this dish thousands upon thousands of times and had his craft down to an art. My attempt was needless to say, fit for the bin but the experience was what it was really about.

 

murtabak2The beginning of “Chefs Run Wild” started at that moment. The buzz that we had from that experience is indescribable. And the best part about it was that there was a lot more of that to come. Written by Chad Klyne

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World travellers, Chefs and television personalities. Without Borders take food, travel and adventure and make short videos that has been turned in to a television series called Chefs Run Wild.

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