Once in awhile, I miss Bali – not party central Seminyak or the “i’m trying to find myself” Ubud… but the cliffs down south. And don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for all that. But Bingin beach, is my respite when I need to get away from it all. Before 2015, only those willing to descend some steep unfinished steps to the beach will find Didi’s, a favourite escape of ours that could not be found on the internet back then. We slept with the sea breeze and shared bathrooms with surfers. The surf at Bingin beach is not for beginners. We would watch some surfers walk out of the ocean bruised by the massive swells that slammed their bodies on the surrounding coral reefs. And yet, they returned for more. For us, we simply enjoyed the show, drank Bintangs and waded in the shallow waters as we lived in the present…for we knew, from the specks of construction, that Bingin would not be the same in the future.
Chatting to two surfers one evening, we got wind of a lady selling grilled shrimp on the beach. This was a IYKYK moment: “The shrimp is so good we ate it all, head to tail, shell included. Go early, she sells out”. With this tip, we set out to said location at 6pm to find said lady set up with a makeshift bbq and a cooler of shrimp by the beach. Probably through some rough form of agreement, she supplied the grilled shrimp and the restaurant supplied beers, rice, sanur and other delicacies. It took an hour – we took micro doses of rice with sambal matah (raw sambal of lemongrass, chilli, onion) to curb our hunger. The shrimp was worth the wait. Simply marinated in kecap manis and then grilled. The size of the shrimp allowed a quick, even cook amidst the the thick dark sauce. The result: charred, crispy and succulent shrimp. The acidic sambal matah balanced out every bite and kept us wanting more.
I wished I owned a grill of sorts at home, but I don’t. So this attempt was via the air fryer (our stove and oven broke down!). The marinated shrimp is slit in half to achieve a quick, even cook throughout. Of course, it is not the same. But it takes me back, to that sea breeze and that moment, for when I can return again.