If you are planning for a Valentine’s dinner, maybe this dish maybe somewhat special and different (in a good way) and you won’t get stuck in the kitchen for too long either.
Bacem is a cooking method popular in Java, Indonesia, for tofu and tempeh. The tofu and tempeh are marinated and boiled in spices and then deep-fried. Both tofu and tempeh bacem are two of my most favorite street snacks. I have made tofu bacem before, but I haven’t made tempeh bacem yet. I’m going to when I make the tempeh (fingers crossed). I’ll elaborate more on tempeh at that time 😉
The bacem cooking method is not limited to only tofu and tempeh. It is also used for poultry, meat, and offal (variety meats). This recipe actually uses lamb. Apart from the spices, tamarind is also used. The lamb is boiled with the spices and tamarind water and then the cooking juice is further cooked and reduced to nice thick sauce. It’s really a nice combination of flavorful lamb with slightly tart, spicy and salty sauce. Another great recipe from The Indonesian Kitchen cookbook by Sri Owen.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!
Kambing bacem (Spiced tamarind lamb)
- 3 lbs leg or shoulder of lamb trimmed of fat, or 1 rack of lamb (cut into 2 cutlets per person)
- 2 1/2 cups tamarind water
- 3 shallots finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves finely sliced
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- 3 tsp ground cumin
- 3 large fresh red chilis seeded and finely sliced
- 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tsp chopped lemongrass soft inner part only
- 1 tsp chopped galangal/ lengkuas
- 1 tsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp Indonesian sweet soy sauce/kecap manis or dark soy sauce
- 2 kaffir lime leaves/ daun jeruk
If you are using a lot of tamarind water, which I did with Southeast Asian cooking, it is worthwhile preparing it in larger volume. Boil a whole 7 oz block of tamarind in about 2 1/4 cups water. Boil for 20 minutes, and use wooden spoon to break up the block. Sieve over a glass bowl, and store in an airtight container jar and keep in the refrigerator for 10 days (longer than that and molds will start to grow). You can freeze them in ice cube trays and it will keep for up to 2 months with no loss of flavor. Portion 1 or 2 or 3 Tbsp in each trays so that you know the portion and can easily use it for cooking.
Put the lamb in a saucepan that will accommodates the leg or shoulder lying flat, or the cutlets in a single layer. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, add 2 1/2 cups water, and pour over the lamb
Put the pan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and continue boiling the meat - not on a rolling boil, but just bubbling gently. Cover the pan, and cook for 50-60 minutes if using leg or shoulder, but only 20-25 minutes if using rack of lamb
Transfer the meat to a warmed serving plate. Slice the joint thinly and discard the bone; the rack can stay as it is, without further cutting
Boil the cooking liquid until reduced to a nice thick sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed and pour the hot sauce over the eat. Serve right away, with potatoes, rice, or pasta
It is best to serve this hot right from the pan. If you have leftover, you may pan-frying it, but it may toughen the meat a little.