Four Seasons Chef Launches Indonesian Cookbook

Its pages include a selection of sambals, Balinese classics, and regional fare from around the archipelago.

Bebek betutu, or Balinese roast duck. (All photos courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan)

Guests of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan wishing to replicate the flavors of Indonesia at home can pick up a brand-new cookbook by head chef Wayan “Suta” Sutariawan. Named Cherished Recipes from My Childhood, the project took shape during the pandemic, bringing together more than 30 recipes including some of his own personal favorites. The book’s preface narrates Suta’s life story from a first-person perspective, spotlighting his humble beginnings and the key role an aunt played in teaching him about the ingredients and techniques of Balinese cuisine — laying the groundwork for a career that would eventually take him to the Maldives and back. On returning to his home island in 2011, Suta realized the demands of modern society were contributing to the loss of traditional dishes and age-old ways of preparation.

“For me as a chef, I feel incredibly sad to see these recipes disappearing, and I want to do what I can to preserve them,” Suta said in a statement. “Some of our best recipes are becoming rare for various reasons whether availability of ingredients, laborious cooking processes, or change in local preferences. They can be hard to find unless you are invited to a Balinese person’s home in the village.”

Wayan “Suta” Sutariawan was recently promoted to the position of head chef at Four Seasons Sayan.

Cherished Recipes from My Childhood features chef Suta’s take on beef rendang.

A platter of spices, herbs, rhizomes, and aromatics used in Indonesian cuisine.

The idea for the book crystallized when guests encouraged Suta to publish the recipes served at the Chef’s Table Dinner at Sokasi, the resort’s riverside cooking school. The seven-course Balinese degustation menu is available for up to eight people, who are given front-row seats to watch the final preparations of dishes normally reserved for major ceremonies. Cooking begins at dawn, long before the diners arrive, with Suta using techniques such as an underground clay oven for the 12-hour roast duck, and a hand-turned spit-roast for the suckling pig, cooked over coconut husks for four hours.

These festive specialties are served alongside rare recipes such as ikan klengis, barramundi fillet marinated in coconut oil sediment, and ayam timbungan — tender pieces of marinated chicken roasted with tree sorrel inside young bamboo. Base genep, the foundational spice paste that Suta calls the “magic” of Balinese food, stars in the cookbook, alongside classics like sate lilit and urab sayur, or mixed vegetable salad with grated fresh coconut, base genep, and crispy fried shallots.

Suta then ventures beyond Bali’s shores to showcase a selection of regional Indonesian dishes. Those featured in the cookbook include Javanese opor — a staple during Eid al-Fitr; West Sumatran kalio red curry; and gohu tuna from Ternate in eastern Indonesia’s Maluku Islands. Sometimes compared to ceviche, the latter describes raw tuna mixed with lime juice and coconut oil, along with bird’s eye chilies, finely chopped shallots, lemon basil leaves, and crushed fried peanuts.

Priced at IDR 1,300,000 (US$86) nett, hard copies of Cherished Recipes from My Childhood are now available at the resort.

Chef Suta picking fresh herbs on the grounds of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan.

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