A Taste of Wakatobi

Published August 25, 2015 in Amenities, RESORT

Learn the ways of sambal and create your own authentic Indonesian flavors

It’s been said that hunger is the best ingredient for any dish. A full day of diving, snorkeling and water sports at Wakatobi can certainly help work up an appetite. Come mealtime, we like to do more than just satisfy that hunger–we inspire the senses with cuisine that infuses fresh, local ingredients with authentic flavors from all corners of the globe. Of course, we aim to please, and can tailor offerings to your personal preferences. All you need do is ask. We take great pride in serving meals that are as memorable as every other element of your stay at Wakatobi.

Wakatobi’s restaurant reflects our belief that dining should be a relaxing, entertaining and gratifying experience. Photo by Didi Lotze

Wakatobi’s restaurant reflects our belief that dining should be a relaxing, entertaining and gratifying experience. Photo by Didi Lotze

Our "chef’s table” offers true foodie indulgence featuring a variety of savory "tastes" to tempt just about every palate. Photo by Marco Fierli

Our “chef’s table” offers true foodie indulgence featuring a variety of savory “tastes” to tempt just about every palate. Photo by Marco Fierli

Here’s what some of our guests are saying about the dining experience: “The food was amazing, both on the Pelagian and at the resort,” say Mark and Christie Chapman, who took a combination dive yacht/resort trip in June 2015. In particular, they say they enjoyed the variety, quality and quantity of choices our chefs offer and the fact that they could choose from typical American food or international dishes. “All the dishes were elegant, perfectly proportioned, and always fresh,” say the Chapmans. “The chef [at Wakatobi] is spectacular, with each dish delicately prepared in small servings and replenished when needed,” add Craig and Denise Cipolla. “This is not a grub line as most other dive resorts produce; here the dishes are unique, flavorful, innovative and versatile.”

Every dish we serve tells a story

“It’s always a pleasure to serve our guests,” says restaurant manager Ibram. “Our culinary team works like a family, with everyone blending their talents to create delicious results.” Ibram’s own talents in hospitality were honed at venues such as the Four Seasons and the Mandarin Oriental before coming to Wakatobi nearly a dozen years ago. Under his management, and the leadership of our head Chef, Andi, the resort’s kitchen produces a wide range of international favorites that draw high praise from guests. But what many tell us they liked best are the dishes that deliver the indigenous flavors of the region, blending fresh local foods with distinctive Indonesian spices.

“My husband had a love affair with the sambal. After he requested something spicy the first evening, the chefs and stewards brought a serving out to him with every meal,” says Christie Chapman.

More than one guest has asked our chefs for recipes in anticipation of repeating a favorite dish in their own home, and the resort also offers cooking classes that provide hands-on experience at creating some of these dishes. Now, thanks to the Internet, we are able to offer one more option: in the months ahead, we will be sharing some of our most popular recipes through this blog, under the heading “A Taste of Wakatobi.” To get things started, we’ll look at one of the simplest yet most distinctive creations that can add an authentic flavor of Indonesia to a variety of dishes. We’re talking about the savory relish dishes known as sambals, and we’ll share the specifics for creating two of the most popular versions served at Wakatobi, plus a favorite spicy prawn dish. But before we get to the details, let’s first learn a bit about sambals in general.

The traditional method for preparing sambal involves crushing the ingredients with a stone mortal and pestle. Photo by Marco Fierli

The traditional method for preparing sambal involves crushing the ingredients with a stone mortal and pestle. Photo by Marco Fierli

Our chefs often create a fresh batch of sambal tableside for special occasions or private dining experiences. Photo by Didi Lotze

Our chefs often create a fresh batch of sambal tableside for special occasions or private dining experiences. Photo by Didi Lotze

The sambal story

Sambal is a spicy chilli-based sauce or relish that is a popular condiment throughout Southeast Asia. Just as Americans might reach for the ketchup, diners in Indonesia are likely to add a dash of sambal to everything from rice dishes to seafood, veggies or even a salad. In its simplest form, a sambal may be nothing more than ground chillis and salt, but cooks usually kick things up a few notches with a range of ingredients that include onion, lime juice, lemongrass, sugar, garlic, fish sauce, tomatoes, shallots, and oil or vinegar. Specific varieties of sambal take their distinguishing characteristics from both the added ingredients and the varying flavors of the chillis themselves. Among the more popular chillis used to make sambal are the bird’s eye, adyuma (aka habanero), lombok, cayenne, and cabe taliwant. Flavors can range from mildly piquant to scorching, but in general, expect a sambal to add a dark, fiery flavor.

The traditional method for making sambal involves crushing the ingredients with a stone mortal and pestle. And though it can be prepared in advanced, and keeps well in refrigeration, many consider sambal best when made fresh. At Wakatobi, our chefs make the sambals served in the dining room fresh daily. For special occasions and private dining experiences, they may also create a fresh batch of sambal tableside. This is known as Sambal Dadak, which translates literally to “sudden sambal.”

                                                                                         more & recipes on next page 

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