^
Keep Houston Press Free
4

James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor

James Oseland unwrapping otak otak at Noodle House 88

The Chinese-Indonesian restaurant called Noodle House 88 on Bellaire at Beltway 8 is the subject of

this week’s Café review

. I ate there with

Saveur Magazine

’s editor in chief, James Oseland, who is an expert on Indonesian food.

“Once you get into Indonesian culture, you really get into it,” he told me. “It’s a very powerful thing.”

Over a pile of the Indonesian fish cakes called otak otak, Oseland explained how he got hooked on the Spice Islands. The son of an office products salesman, he grew up in an average middle class home in California. In 1982, he was studying film at the Art Institute in San Francisco. That year, his life changed dramatically when a classmate invited him to spend the summer at her family’s home in Indonesia.

Oseland was fascinated with Indonesian culture. When his friend went back to California for the fall semester, he remained in Southeast Asia. He spent the whole year there researching foodways and writing down recipes. In the two decades that followed, he returned to Indonesia more than 25 times.

His cookbook,

Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore

(WW. Norton $35), is the product of those 20 years of research. Illustrated partly with the author’s travel photos and partly with color food photography, it is the best book I have seen on Indonesian food and a delight to read. Some of the recipes, such as those for chicken and beef satay, sound pretty easy.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

I took Oseland to visit Hong Kong City Mall after dinner. He was impressed with the wealth of Asian ingredients available in Houston. – Robb Walsh

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.