9 Indonesian Traditional Grilling Techniques

In order to celebrate the month of Indonesia’s Independence Day, also its second birthday, Nusa Gastronomy is offering dinner set menu from various regions in Indonesia using the traditional grilling methods in August 15th – September 15th 2018.


“We are deliberately exposing the traditional grill theme, more to inform people that Indonesians have various grilling methods that are almost forgotten. Actually, the technique played big role, especially when our ancestors weren’t familiar with gas or kerosene, yet,” explained Ragil Imam Wibowo, Chef Founder Nusa Gastronomy.

There are many reasons why people convert to gas, from shorter cooking time to business efficiency, but there’s a price to pay for the convenience. “Honestly, traditional cooking methods give better taste because they are using slow cooking method. It also give you the addition of irreplaceable taste that can’t be attained from modern methods using gas,” he added. If you visit Nusa Gastronomy’s kitchen, you’ll see that they have a special area with traditional kitchen equipment to give you authentic taste. Now you know why many pizzerias proudly put the word “wood-fire” in their menus.

In other countries, the movement of going back to traditional method is fueled by the will to reduce energy waste, however, Chef Ragil has much more simple reason,” Nusa Gastronomy’s mission is to make better Indonesian cuisine than we already know now. We also fix some of the weaknesses of traditional methods. For example, in long cooking process, you’ll loose the nutrients in the ingredients”. In addition, Nusa Gastronomy is also using modern technique such as sous vide to adjust the doneness level of the protein accurately. Here are the 9 Indonesian traditional grilling techniques that are presented in Nusa Gastronomy.

 Husk Grill

The grilling method that is usually spotted in Java and Bali was found when the people, who worked as farmers, use the husk after milling to cook. “Whenthey try to grill it and add some clay, actually the taste was good. That’s my prediction, because most of cooking techniques came from trials and errors, also using some leftover source of energy,” Ragil said.

The husk grill gives specific light-smoked aroma from cooking process that may take up to 8-12 hours. Ayam Betutu Bali is one of the dishes that use the technique, the authentic technique can be found in the region of Ubud. The interesting thing is, the technique can also be applied in other food as well. Nusa Gastronomy uses it in their menu Gurita Bakar Sekam Bumbu Base Genep Bakar Plecing Kangkung and the menu from previous season Ayam Lempah Kulat Pelawan.


Clay Grill

One of the food that exposes the technique is Ambo. For a long time, people are always looking for organic medicines, and clay is known to cure diarrhea. Nusa Gastronomy applies the technique in Pepes Kelinci Bumbu Kuning Masak Lempung dengan Sayur Lalap.

“We use the more hygienic loam clay, because if you’re just using any clay, you’re exposing yourself to salmonella. We use the technique to get the distinct aroma of pepes, but we wrapped it in loam to trap the heat inside and produces similar effect to presto. After grilling, the loam will become hard and has to be broken,” he explained. It’s very similar to Chinese’s Beggar’s Chicken.


Stone Grill

It’s a Papuan grilling technique, especially in remote areas such as Lembah Baliem, Nabire, and Jayawijaya. The technique uses heat transfer from burning stone that was put below and above the food. The food used is usually sagoo and protein (fish, shrimp, chicken) that is covered in banana leaf. It results in flat food, akin to pizza. The food cooked with the technique is usually used to celebrate good moments in life, such as birthday, wedding, etc. One of the most popular food that’s using the technique is Sagu Sep.


Forno Grill

“We’re certain that the technique was influenced by European culture, but we don’t have any obvious literature proof yet. Judging form the name, forno means fire in Italian. If you ever see the technique, there’s a good chance that the influence was attained by the Portuguese,” said Ragil.

The technique uses toaster-shaped pottery with compartments. To cook, simply put any charcoal in it, after it’s getting hot, put it out and insert the sago and coconut, close it for around 10-15 minutes. The end result is similar to bread, some people call it sago bread. However, after it was cold and dry, it will get hard similar to stone, eat by dipping it into sauce.

“It’s a heat transfer method, not direct flame. We use it in Bebek Asap Kuah Mangut with Sagu Forno Daun Kelor. Actually, we don’t use the authentic forno, but we replace it using bronze rangin cake mold, but we apply the same technique with forno grill,” he explained.


“We’re certain that the technique was influenced by European culture, but we don’t have any obvious literature proof yet. Judging form the name, forno means fire in Italian. If you ever see the technique, there’s a good chance that the influence was attained by the Portuguese,” said Ragil.

The technique uses toaster-shaped pottery with compartments. To cook, simply put any charcoal in it, after it’s getting hot, put it out and insert the sago and coconut, close it for around 10-15 minutes. The end result is
similar to bread, some people call it sago bread. However, after it was cold and dry, it will get hard similar to stone, eat by dipping it into sauce.

“It’s a heat transfer method, not direct flame. We use it in Bebek Asap Kuah Mangut with Sagu Forno Daun Kelor. Actually, we don’t use the authentic forno, but we replace it using bronze rangin cake mold, but we apply the same technique with forno grill,” he explained.


Bamboo Grill

The technique is spread evenly in Indonesia as bamboo is available everywhere. The bamboo grill is usually used to cook rice with coconut cream, rolled with banana leaf and put into bamboo and then grilled. In Jailolo, we have a recipe where fish is grilled with unripened soursop, meanwhile, the people in South Borneo grill the catfish inside bamboo.

“The technique gives unmistakably specific bamboo taste, it’s irreplaceable to using only the banana leaf,” he said. Nusa Gastronomy applies the technique to the rice that’s served with Gurita Bakar Sekam Bumbu Base Genep Bakar Plecing Kangkung.


Smoke Grill

Before refrigerator was invented, one of the ways to preserve food is to smoke it. Seafood is one of the most popular food to be smoked. Some of the most popular ones are wood fish, and smoked roa fish from Ternate and Celebes. Meanwhile, in Payakumbuh, the people capture eel and smoke it to be preserved in order to keep it for a long time.


Leaf Grill

I’s one of the most popular grilling technique in Indonesia. In addition to banana leaf, other leaves such as galangal leaf or turmeric leaf can be used. The smell of the leaves will give you distinct note to the food. Some of the most famous dishes to use the technique is Nasi Bakar from West Java, Ikan Bakar Manado, and Ikan Kembung Daun Kunyit. In Palembang, you can also see Grilled Lenggang, or pempek that was grilled in banana leaf.


Coconut Shell Grill

As an archipelagic state with abundance of coconut tree, coconut shell is the main choice when it comes to grilling. Coconut shell grill technique is mostly applied by people in coastal area. As a result, the grilled food are seafood, such as fish, shrimp, squid, and mussel.


Sate Grill

Indonesia has the most divergent satay in the world. From Sate Padang, Sate Madura, Sate Lilit Ikan Bali, Sate Daging Rembiga Lombok, Sate Maranggi, Sate Klopo Surabaya and Sate Tulang Banjarmasin. Each sate has its own mix of spices. The common things shared among them is the use of coconut shell.

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