Indonesian Partner Chef on Fisherman & Bomb Fried Rice
Indonesian partners of commercial fishermen are just like us! Well, Tessa sure is. What drew me to Tessa – besides that she lives halfway around the globe – is that if anyone understands long-distance relationships, it’s her. Her fisherman is from Alaska, so the challenges of time zones are only part of the deal. More importantly, she runs her own business, making incredible food-to-go that makes my mouth water (and I’m sure yours will, too). Bonus, Tessa shares her spam fried rice recipe that is easy to make if you’re not a cook like me. I’ll be trying this one this week with some leftover smoked salmon. (But who am I kidding. Spam would taste So. Much. Better.) Get your passports ready. Let’s meet Tessa!
Indonesian Partner Chef on Fisherman & Bomb Fried Rice
Where are you from, and where do you currently live?
Hi, my name is Teresa Sylvania Johan, but people call me Tessa. I was born and raised in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, and this is really the only place I have lived. But I traveled A LOT before the pandemic when working in marketing for a German company here.
You post delicious meals on Insta! Is that what do you do for work?
Yes, those were the food I have cooked. I started my small culinary business right after the pandemic got worse here and when everyone started working from home. I cook a lot at home, and I always share my food with my friends, neighbors, and family. I thought, Why not make money from it. I get to share my food and make people happy, and I also make money. That sounded like a great idea! So now I focus on selling Indian food and some dessert. (See more on @fromscratchbytersa)
How did you meet your fisherman, and is he a captain or a deckhand?
I met my boyfriend Ron, he is from Craig, Alaska, and he is a Captain and is currently out fishing salmon this summer. Ron and I met last year through online dating (I know, haha!). But it was so organic. I was surprised that we just clicked since we do two different things and live in two different parts of the world. But we just felt so good since the very beginning, and things have moved forward since then. I did not know about the fishing industry until I met him. Growing up, I loved eating salmon and crabs; I ate a lot of seafood in my life. And from what I have learned from him and friends and family, I believe I will enjoy living life with my Fisherman in the future.
Where does your partner commercially fish, and when is the season?
He’s currently fishing salmon specifically in Southeast Alaska this whole summer.
How often do you get to talk to him during a season? (Is the time difference an issue?)
Alaska is 15 hours behind Jakarta. We do not have a fixed scheduled time to call. When he’s fishing, he calls me whenever he gets service or texts to keep me updated. From my experience, he only gets 1 bar signal most of the time, but we still managed to talk, but not for long though. But when he’s not fishing, we talk throughout the day. So far, the time difference isn’t the main issue here. Don’t get me wrong – we get into arguments quite often, especially when fishing is not going well, the weather is bad, the mood changes, the disagreement, jealousy, etc. A long-distance relationship is not easy for everybody, especially for Ron. This is my second time doing a long-distance relationship (LDR), so I am pretty much used to this. But this is Ron’s first time, and he had a rough time. But we have been working together pretty well.
We had our fights, disagreement, miscommunication, jealousy, and such, but we love each other so much, which makes us keep going. We know what we are getting into, and we know this is not gonna be easy. Thinking that this is worth fighting for, and we will see each other again soon and hopefully move in together, brings us a little joy moving forward. We never know what will happen in the future, but we have faith in ourselves, so we keep moving as long as we still love each other.
Besides work, how do you pass the time when your fisherman is away?
I have a dog, many birds, and some fish to take care of. Especially when I don’t work, I get busy taking care of these “babies,” lol. Also, I love watching movies. I’m into thrillers and mystery solving. I could watch for hours in my leisure time. And I work out at least 2 or 3 times a week at the gym or home. And napping, basically. I don’t know about you, but I love sleeping. Maybe that’s weird, but it makes me feel good and recharged and happy and more ready to do anything.
Going back to food, do you have an easy recipe you could share for POCFs who aren’t confident cooks?
Spam Fried Rice
12 oz spam diced (can use shrimp/chicken/only egg)
2 cups of jasmine/Thai rice
1 tbsp oil
1/4 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp sweet soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
Salt pepper to season
1/2 cup chopped scallions
How to make:
1. Heat the pan on high heat and add oil
2. Add spam and stir often until browned
3. Add onion and cook until golden brown, then add garlic and jalapeno and brown it for 30 sec
4. Add rice, pour sweet soy sauce and sesame oil, stirring often, add salt pepper
5. Push everything in the pan off to the side and crack eggs into the empty space of the pan and stir to break the eggs. When the eggs are cooked through, stir them into the rice mixture
6. Turn off the heat and topped with scallions and chili sauce/ketchup if needed
(My little secret to making good fried rice is that I always use rice that I put in the fridge overnight or leftover rice from a day before. It makes the best fried rice because it’s not sticky. You don’t want your fried rice too soft.)
Anything you’d like to add?
I want to say that I am so glad to have found you on here and to connect with other ladies on our Facebook Group and Instagram. I’m so excited to share with others who are in the same boat as me because not everyone can relate, and that’s really special. And I’m guessing I am probably the only one here who’s living in Asia. Let me tell you; you gotta try Indonesian food (Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Sate Ayam). Those are our staple food, and I believe you would find them somewhere there in your place. You are going to love it, especially if you like spicy food.🐟
If you like this interview, you’ll love Real Challenges of Living in a Small Fishing Community.
Dive into what it’s like when your fisherman is gone for a season through the Diary of a Partner of a Commercial Fisherman: The Goodbye.