I fell in love with Rijstafel in Amsterdam. It is just so exciting to be seated at a table, surrounded by numerous bowls of food and have no idea what you are about to eat! There were so many varied flavours in one meal: aromatic lemongrass, hot chilli peppers, pungent galangal, nutty coconut and peanuts – they all had me captivated. It was a journey of discovery that I wished would never end.
Upon returning to Toronto, one of the first things I did was to look for similar Rijstafel restaurants here. I chanced upon Quince Bistro (2110 Yonge Street), which does one every few months. You have to be on their mailing list to find out about it and when you get the notification, drop everything and book a table right away. The experience was as good, if not better than our Amsterdam one because the food was not as hot and spicy and this time we could actually eat the Beef Rendang! There were about 20 dishes, ranging from Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Rempeh (coconutty meatballs in a coconut curry sauce), Sate Ajam (chicken satay skewers) to several sambals, chutneys and other condiments.
The swordfish satay with sweet, spicy peanut sauce was amongst our favourites. I couldn’t wait to try making it in my own kitchen! Here is my version of that delicious dish:
Swordfish Satay Skewers
For the fish marinade:
2 tsp Thai curry powder
½ inch piece ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tbsp coconut cream (skim from top of premium coconut milk can)
Salt to taste
500 gm thick skinless, boneless piece of Swordfish loin or fillet
2 tbsp oil
In large mixing bowl, combine all marinade ingredients together except the fish and oil. Mix well. Cut fish into 1 inch pieces. Add to marinade in bowl, mix gently to coat, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or longer. Soak bamboo skewers.
Thread meat onto skewers and grill briefly on a medium hot barbecue grill, until just cooked through, about 4-5 min per side. Brush with oil just before taking them off the grill. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.
Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
½ cup tamarind sauce or tamarind chutney
1/2 tsp Thai curry powder
1/2 tsp red chili sambal
Warm oil in non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots. Sauté for 2 minutes until slightly softened. Add remaining ingredients, cook 1 minute. If mixture is too thick, add some more coconut milk to thin it out to the desired consistency. Serve warm.