You won’t find Indonesian restaurants in the South Sound, but you can learn to cook Indonesian.
Tacoma’s Asia Pacific Cultural Center is hosting a class May 24 with cookbook author Irene Liem, who wrote “A Romance With Indonesian Cooking,” a book that’s part family memoir, part cooking primer.
The class is part of that organization’s ongoing effort in teaching students how to cook and appreciate different styles of Asian cuisine.
In the Indonesian class, attendees will learn the formula for flavoring dishes from Indonesia, which Liem described in an email interview as more delicate than one might guess, “not too spicy, not too strong, not too bland,” said Liem, who dedicated the book to her late husband, Dr. Bian Kwan Liem. Daughter Lilian Liem, an artist, designed the book. Irene Liem lives in Australia now, but grew up in Hong Kong and is the daughter of Indonesians.
In the class, attendees will learn a few cooking shortcuts, plus a how-to on making a basic flavoring paste that fuels many Indonesian dishes.
I sent Liam a few email questions about her class, here are edited excerpts:
Question: What is the one dish you want readers to try cooking from the book?
Answer: I would say two dishes, chicken satays, and gado gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce) because I can assure you that your American friends will love you for serving them these two dishes.
Q: What are your favorite recipes from the cookbook and why?
I have many favorite recipes in my cookbook, among them are Dr. Liem’s hokkien noodle, lumpia (spring rolls), lemper ayam (glutinous rice with savory chicken filling). But the best is sambal goreng udang dengan labusiam (prawns and chokos in coconut milk) because of the lovely subtlety of the coconut sauce which has the fragrance of the basic paste, the sweetness of the prawns and the freshness of choko (chayote).
Q: What do you consider the hallmarks of Indonesian cuisine?
I think that the hallmark of Indonesian cuisine is the variety of sauces/gravies plus condiments, side dishes that go with a plate of white steamed/yellow rice. The main appeal is the yummy and fragrant sauces/gravies prepared from freshly ground herbs and spices cooked with meat over slow heat.
A Romance With Indonesian Cooking
When: noon-3 p.m. May 24
Where: Asia Pacific Cultural Center, 4851 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma;
Cost: $50, includes demonstration, lunch and a copy of the book.
Reserve: By May 17 at 253-383-3900