Inspired By Her Mother’s Love

;Chef Desi Trisnawati not only shares with us her recipe for Seared Tuna with Turmeric Rice but also reveals a lot of her inspirations.


;Chef Desi Trisnawati not only shares with us her recipe for Seared Tuna with Turmeric Rice but also reveals a lot of her inspirations.

DESI WAS BORN in small town of Sungailiat, on the island of Bangka. It was a small town, with no facilities like the big cities. Here she grew up in a family which loved food and loved to cook. “The kitchen was my playground, we would cook three to five times a day,” Desi fondly recalls. Bangka is known for its amazing seafood, so most of the time, seafood was served on their dining table. “I remember my late mom would always cook for us. At the table, she would peel prawns for us, one by one she would pass them to us to eat. Later on I realized, that she never got the chance to eat since she would distribute all the prawns to us. When I looked back at these episodes, this is when I realized that I wanted to share love through food.”

When she was in the fifth grade, Desi joined her first cooking competition, she cooked sweet and sour fish, one of her favorite dishes, using a traditional stove. She won that competition and never looked back. She was eager to try new recipes and developed her love for cooking. Most recently, she joined the MasterChef Indonesia TV cooking competition and emerged the champion. Now she lives a very busy life tending to the family’s Novilla Boutique Resort back in Sungailiat, Bangka as well as her own catering business called Pesona Kataring Nusantara here in Jakarta.  She also consults for a Japanese flavor company called Takasago and is also a motivational speaker.


Desi loves Indonesian food, so for this month, she shares her recipe for Seared Tuna with Turmeric Rice. It is served with a lemon-basil infused soy sauce reduction and a spicy garlic chili sambal. It is inspired by traditional roadside ikan bakar. “Indonesian food is full of flavor and I tried to combine these rich flavors in one plate. The fragrance of the turmeric rice, the delicate flavor of the tuna, the sweetness of the soy sauce and the spiciness of the sambal really dance in your mouth.”

Hopefully dishes like this and many more can be showcased in Desi’s planned healthy restaurant. Driven by her passion for cooking, and inspired by her mother’s love, I am sure this new venture will be a huge success.

Serves: 4

Turmeric rice

5 cloves      Shallots              )
3 cloves      Garlic                 )
3 cm           Fresh Turmeric   ) blend
2 pcs           Candle nut          )
1 Tbs          Vegetable oil      )
7 pcs           Cloves
500 ml        Water
50 ml          Coconut Milk
1 tsp           Chicken Stock
500 gr         Rice
30 gr           Glutinous Rice
½ tsp           Sugar
1 tsp           Salt
4 pcs           Kaffir Lime
2 stalks       Lemon grass
2 pcs           Pandan leaves

Lemon Basil Infused Sauce
2 tbs           Sweet Soy Sauce
1 handfull   Lemon Basil Leaves
1 Cluster     Fresh Green Pepper
3 tbs           Water
1 tsp           Vegetable Oil
½ tsp           Fried Garlic

Garlic Chili Sambal
5 cloves      Garlic
3 pcs           Big Chili
3 pcs           Chili Padi
3 tbs           Vegetable Oil
1 tsp           Chicken Powder
½ tsp           Sugar
½ tsp           Salt

Seared Tuna
100 gr         Fresh tuna fillet
3 Types of Curly Chili
Lemon basil
Fried onion
Green pepper

Turmeric rice


  • Blend the shallots, garlic, turmeric, candle nut and vegetable oil with the Oxone hand blender.
  • Sautee the blended ingredients until fragrant. And add the rest of the ingredients, cook until the water reduces. Set it aside and steam the rice until well cooked.

Lemon Basil Infused Sauce

  • Simmer all the ingredients until reduced, set it aside.

Garlic Chili Sambal


  • Blend all the ingredients together and fry in vegetable oil until fragrant.

Seared Tuna


  • Cut tuna in rectangular shapes, seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Sear in a hot pan with some oil.
  • Cut into desired shapes.

Written by Jed Doble Photographs by Dennie Ramon July 26, 2016.