Classic Padang Cuisine – Traveling foodies take note.  I love eating Padang cuisine. Eating in a foreign land just got a whole lot easier thanks to Padang cuisine. Forget about pointing at a pot or snooping at your neighbour’s meal. With Padang cuisine, you sit down and the whole kit and caboodle gets laid out in front of you. You decide which ones look tasty and push the others aside. You pay for what you eat – nibbling, sniffing, and fondling included.

The drawback is that you never really know what you’re eating, since there’s no menu. If the dish contains liquid, it is usually a coconut milk curry, a major component of Padang cuisine. The meaty dishes are most likely beef or buffalo, occasionally offal or, less likely. Some of the fun of Padang-ing is identifying the mystery meat. Because most dishes are cooked slowly and thoroughly, the difference between chicken and certain types of fish isn’t so obvious.

The most famous Padang dish is rendang, in which chunks of beef or buffalo are simmered slowly in coconut milk until the sauce is reduced to a rich paste and the meat becomes dark and dried. Other popular dishes include telor balado (egg dusted with red chilli), ikan panggang (fish baked in coconut and chilli), and gulai merah kambing (red mutton curry).

Most couples pick one or two meat dishes and a vegetable, usually kangkong (water spinach), ask for tempe or tahu (tofu), which comes doctored up in spicy sambal. The orphan dishes are collected and returned to the display window protected from curious flies by a lacy curtain.

Before digging into the meal. And, we mean this literally, as your right hand is your utensil – wash up in the provided bowl of water. Food and sauces should be spooned onto your plate of rice, then mixed together with the fingers. The rice will be easier to handle if it is a little wet. Use your fingers to scoop up the food, and your thumb to push it into your mouth. It is messy even for people raised on it.

Padang cuisine has an earthy spiciness that might need a little sweet tea or water as a chaser. There is usually a tumbler of lukewarm water (a sign that it has been boiled for sterilisation) on the table.

After you’ve slurped and sucked your plate clean, wash up, let out a burp (or don’t be surprised if your neighbour does), and fire up a cigarette.

I had such a great time!

Happy Green Travels!

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