This week my girlfriend, NN, and I are in Bali so the allure of sourcing, cooking and eating a meat very out of the ordinary was high. In fact I’d been thinking about it for a while.
Can I do dog?
Do I care what people think if I did? The overriding factor on that one, however, was that I can’t see a dirty and straggly street dog being a healthy animal. That goes against my ethos on meat and animal treatment. Would I eat dog if it was from a well treated animal that was farmed (not a household pet), looked after, enjoyed a stress free life and killed in a humane way? Yes I believe I would. However, bring me face to face with that and it could be a different story.
What else can be done in Bali? Well, I looked into it before I got here. Fruit bat seemed to be a possibility. But again, the idea of venturing into the local markets to source, although sounding like an interesting and horizon expanding adventure, the conservative side of me ruled and decided that the probability of me ending up spending my holiday in the bathroom was too high. Plus one online advisor advocated ‘dressing and acting poor’, whilst I feel I could play the part of Balinese street vendor, it didn’t seem I’d quite look the part, white skin and kiwi accent and all…
So I put the feelers out to those more knowledgeable than me and came up with a local deli, a much more comfort zone-like stop off for those normally Sydney based folk. I was still hopeful for some obscure local, land based, meats, but alas I was out of luck. I did however come across some locally caught seafood. Brilliant!
So with some prompting and recipe advice from my companion I decided on a raw swordfish salad.
It was a tough conversation to have with the guy behind the counter. His English, albeit better than my lowly Balinese, was pretty poor, but we got there in the end with the help of most of the deli staff. This swordfish was caught locally. Phew. I didn’t venture all this way just for Australian seafood!
I pulled out my phone, removed my pants and prepared to get screwed by Virgin Mobile for roaming charges, and nailed down a recipe. Once the ingredients were selected, a couple of Bintangs stashed in the basket and a verbal spat with a taxi driver, it was back to the villa to get covered in oil and subsequently fall asleep on a massage table. Not for the first time so far on this trip.
Once essentially dead with relaxation I prepared the swordfish by dicing into small chunks, covering in the juice of 2 lemons and 1 Balinese lime and a sprinkling of sea salt. This then sat in the fridge for an hour.
Swimming, reading, relaxing, all the tough parts of life, followed while the meat chilled and ‘cooked’. I then began the somewhat paranoid approach to washing the produce; first with tap water then with filtered water to rinse off any local water nastiness. It was time consuming.
Once I’d done my daily part for world water consumption, I added one chopped spring onion, one chopped red capsicum, one punnet of yellow grape tomatoes, a handful of diced parsley and one cup of coconut cream, mixed it all and let settle in the fridge for 10 minutes.
This was just enough time to light the mosquito repellent thing, head inside away from the plethora of flying biters whilst bringing a sneaky piece of spare swordfish steak to room temperature ready to quick fry and devour for direct comparison to the raw salad.
Mosquitoes removed, we ventured back outside, poured some red wine and I cooked the spare swordfish. I served the salad and we dove in fork first. NN has a childhood connection to a dish very similar to this and immediately expressed her adoration for this one. I too was an instant fan. The swordfish was tender and had soaked up the flavours of the lemon, coconut cream and parsley nicely. This dish was greedily gulped down by NN and I followed close behind. The creaminess made it filling but beautiful in addition to the other, more subtle, flavours.
The quick fried steak of swordfish on the other hand seemed to be perfectly cooked, but when comparing to the salad I was at once put off. I made a decision right there that if I have swordfish again, which I invariably will, it won’t be as a steak, but raw like this salad will be the first choice.
So, to sum up- this Balinese Swordfish, done raw in a very simple salad, was hands down the best raw swordfish I’ve ever had. However, it’s also the only raw swordfish I’ve had, so to be more helpful on its ranking- I will most definitely make this again and look forward to demolishing it. Simple.
Once the main course was over we pulled out another acquisition from that day, some Organic Bali 90% dark chocolate with vanilla bean. This stuff has the appearance of milk chocolate and subtle taste, nothing like normal super dark chocolate I’ve had before which, to me, tastes like dirt. This stuff is divine. We bought this at the source whilst on a random tour of the island. As well as this we saw the production of the local Luwark coffee, which is made via the digestive systems of the Asian Palm Civet animal (a small cat like creature). They eat the berries and their droppings are collected, the bean removed and then normal coffee production ensues. A strange concept to get a grip on, but a great coffee nonetheless, and ridiculously expensive because of its rarity and painstaking process. However, I managed to keep my arm and leg in the purchase of this and some of the delicious chocolate at the farm where it’s all grown and made. Easily below 10% of the price internationally.
So, the vanilla dark chocolate for dessert, which rounded off a fantastic meal. Then a Luwark coffee with breakfast the next day, which proved vital, as this was no ordinary day. This was a day when I caressed some turtles, held a python at bay and attempted to eat a fish eye but failed due to its hard boiled lolly consistency, and ventured to the Jambaran Fish Market, which was a real eye opener and had the locals generally pointing and laughing at the strange white folk wandering around covered in flies and taking photos (actually I’m the white guy, NN is more Balinese in appearance so didn’t seem too out of the ordinary). Wish I’d had the balls to buy my swordfish here.
Another week done and a new meat prepared and eaten. I have another day here so I will endeavour to see if I can track down something more obscure to cook and eat, otherwise I’ll come to you from Sydney again next week.
Also, keep an eye out on here for a few changes and the ‘concise edition’ of each new meat post. For those more time deficient out there, it’s up the top if you wish to click and check it out.
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