While Indonesian bookstores (and really there is only one major chain that operates throughout the country--Gramedia) have limited offerings in the realm of fiction (the government having long suppressed critical voices--although it is now possible to buy copies of Pramoedya Ananta Toer's novels in Indonesia), the cookbook selection is fairly extensive. A large number of the cookbooks have a slant towards home industry--collections of snacks and variations that can be sold for profit. The rest of the cookbooks tend to be for the home cooks who wants to expand their familiarity with traditional Indonesian dishes.
As many Indonesian families employ maids to help with cooking and cleaning, a lot of Indonesians grow up not learning how to cook. A maid from Central Java is going to cook soto ayam different from a maid from West Java. My father-in-law (who is from East Java) is famous for complaining about the food when he stayed with his son in Bandung, West Java. Nothing ever tasted right to him. The cookbooks with 30 variations on soto help the beleaguered housewife soothe her family's tastes.
Fried Tofu with Flowering Chives
(Tahu Goreng Tepung)
1 large block of regular tofu cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rice flour (do not use glutinous rice flour)
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
1 large egg, beaten
10 flowering chives, cut into 1-inch lengths
oil for frying
In a large bowl mix the flours, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the coconut milk and beaten egg until you have a fairly smooth batter. Stir in the chives and about a third of the tofu cubes.
Heat the oil in a wok. With a fork or slotted spoon remove pieces of tofu that have been covered in the coconut batter and carefully lower into the hot oil. Gently fry until all the pieces are a golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the tofu pieces have been battered and fried. As with all fried foods, these are best served hot.