Welcome to our new series, folks! Based on your enthusiastic responses to our food-related posts, both here and on social media, we thought you might enjoy a regular column that brings together two of our favourite things – food and art.
Cooking, like art, is both reactive and creative – it is about being in flux, navigating and trusting our senses and then connecting and transforming.
Plates is where we put recipes by our favourite Asian contemporary artists to the test. Sure, they can create thought-provoking and interesting works of art but … can they also cook? To kick off this series, we’ll be trying out some recipes from a book that P found at her favourite local bookstore, Books Actually, called Artists’ Recipes.
Indonesian contemporary artist Eddie Hara‘s handwritten and illustrated recipe for Squid Curry or Kare Cumi Cumi reflects the same playful, irreverent comic-book aesthetic that makes his artworks so engaging.
It’s a pretty easy recipe to follow, whether or not you’re an experienced cook. The artist estimates that the process should take 45 – 60 minutes, depending “on your mood or who accompanies you while cooking”. P made this with the help of the trusty J and L, and yes, it really was a snap to make.
Typically, with Southeast Asian curries, you would make a rempah (spice blend) by blending chillies, onions, ginger, garlic etc into a paste and then frying it in hot oil (tumis) until fragrant, before adding in water and coconut milk. In Hara’s recipe, however, you start by boiling a whole liter (!!!) of coconut milk mixed with a cup of water.
As you can probably guess, that makes for a rather more lemak (creamy) curry than most of us here in Southeast Asia are used to, so you might want to up the chilli quotient and reduce the coconut milk if you prefer a spicier curry which packs more of a punch.
As the coconut milk is boiling, you blend chilli, onion, ginger and garlic together and add it to the coconut milk, together with dry spices, some palm sugar and salt (no tumis-ing).
Hara says (and P agrees) that squid, like most seafood, shouldn’t be cooked for too long. In the case of squid, especially, it gets all chewy and rubbery! So you can make the curry in advance, but only add the squid to the sauce 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
Et voila, ladies and gentlemen, the finished dish, Eddie Hara’s Kare Cumi-Cumi! The verdict? It’s pretty good – the spices make for a fragrant, aromatic curry and the juicy squid is delicious. To P, it was a tad too creamy and not nearly spicy enough, but perhaps Hara was being mindful of his intended audience as the recipe was part of a project for Art Basel 2015 in Switzerland, where he now resides.
Hara recommends that you eat it over Thai jasmine rice and and pair it with with any Asian or Belgian beer or a light chardonnay. Intrigued and want to know more about the artist? Here’s a work by Hara that we saw recently at Art Stage Jakarta 2017, for your viewing pleasure.
Are you an artist with a recipe you’d like to share? Get in touch with us for a chat!