Tag Archives: Bayam

Plecing Bayam – Spinach with Spicy Tomato Sauce Recipe

Plecing is a vegetable dish served with fiery red spicy tomato sauce. Originated from the island of Lombok, just a small hop to the east from the island of Bali, plecing is commonly served along ayam bakar taliwang (Lombok grilled chicken), and these two dishes are the signature dishes of Lombok cuisine.

Ingredients to prepare Indonesian plecing bayam (spinach with spicy tomato sauce).

I thought a plecing is always made with kangkung?

You are right! Traditionally, a plecing is always made with kangkung (morning glory/water spinach). But unless you have access to a pretty complete Asian market in the US, a bunch of fresh spinach is much easier to find. Of course, if your market does carry it, try grabbing a bunch of kankung to make traditional plecing. The reason why I choose spinach is that I love spinach, and it so happens that plecing sauce is a perfect match for almost any simply blanched/steamed vegetables, and you can pair this spicy tomato sauce with any fresh vegetables (e.g. broccoli, kale, green beans, e.t.c.) that you come across while doing your grocery.♥

The parts of a plecing bayam: (Left) nicely plated cooked spinach, (Right) bright red, bold, fresh, and spicy tomato sauce.

The parts of a plecing bayam: (Left) nicely plated cooked spinach, (Right) bright red, bold, fresh, and spicy tomato sauce.

Do I really need to blanch my spinach?

Not really! Instead of blanching my spinach, I actually prefer to put the whole bunch of washed and drained fresh spinach in a really big pot/wok, cover it, and turn the heat on to medium and let the whole big bunch of spinach wilts. Just stir it a bit, especially once it starts to wilt, so the bottom parts don’t end up getting burned. And that’s it! Once all the spinach has wilted, simply scoop them up and arrange in a serving plate. Then you can start preparing the sauce.

Plecing bayam - Spinach with spicy tomato sauce.

Plecing bayam – Spinach with spicy tomato sauce.

What is terasi (shrimp paste) and is there any substitute for it?

Terasi (shrimp paste) is made of fermented tiny shrimps (we call them rebon in Indonesia) and salt. It’s known as belacan in Malaysia/Singapore. It looks like a block of chocolate but stinks to high heaven. A block of terasi should last for a long while since we usually use them by the teaspoon, and it should be quite easy to cut off a section with a knife from the block to use as needed. To ward of the stink, my suggestion is to wrap an opened block of terasi with double/triple layer of parchment paper, and place it inside a ziplock bag (or two!), and stash in your fridge.

How to toast terasi

Prior to using a piece of terasi, it needs to be toasted. You can do this in several ways:

  1. Dry toast it on a frying pan.
  2. Grab a piece of shrimp paste with a pair of tongs, and just toast it with an open flame (if you have a gas stove).
  3. Toast it in an oven toaster.
  4. Put it in a microwaveable plate/bowl, and cook for about 30 seconds.

Whichever method you choose, you will know it’s done when the chocolate color turns paler, the piece looks dryer, and you can crumble it with your fingers. Also, the smell will be much more fragrant. I know it’s super weird to say this, but you’ll understand once you have more experience with toasting terasi.

Toast just the needed amount of terasi

I know it might be tempting to toast the whole block of terasi in one go and use as needed, but to me, toasting just the small piece as needed is the way to go. If you pre toast the whole lot, you will find that the taste somehow degrades with time. Plus, if you go with method 4 (the microwave method), it really doesn’t take much time at all to toast a piece of terasi.

Substitute for terasi (shrimp paste)

As for substitutes, there really isn’t any, though fish sauce is the closest thing you may try that will give you a semblance of terasi. If you cannot find any terasi, try substituting 1 teaspoon of terasi with 1 tablespoon of fish sauce.

Plecing bayam - Spinach with spicy tomato sauce.

Plecing bayam – Spinach with spicy tomato sauce.

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Sup Bening Bayam Jagung – Spinach and Corn Soup Recipe

Sup bening bayam jagung – Indonesian spinach and corn soup.

Sup bening is Indonesian clear soup with fresh vegetables. There are two version of sup bening: sup bening bayam (spinach soup) and sup bening bayam jagung (spinach and corn soup). The latter is a more complete and delicious version of the two, and that is the recipe I am sharing in this post.

Do try to use fresh corn whenever possible since the soup will benefit from the natural sweetness of corn cobs. But I will give a guide on how to increase the soup sweetness when using canned/frozen corn.

Ingredients for sup bening bayam jagung (spinach and corn soup): spinach, corn, tomato, shallot, garlic, ginger, Indonesian bay leaves (daun salam), and salt.

Ingredients for sup bening bayam jagung (spinach and corn soup): spinach, corn, tomato, shallot, garlic, ginger, Indonesian bay leaves (daun salam), and salt.

Ingredients for Indonesian spinach and corn soup

This soup is all about the freshness of spinach and corn, so be sure to start with very fresh spinach (or baby spinach) and fresh corn.

The supporting ingredients for Indonesian sup bening are vegetable stock/chicken stock, shallot, garlic, ginger, Indonesian bay leaves (Indonesian: daun salam), tomato, and salt.

Fresh corn vs. canned/frozen corn

You can substitute two fresh corns with 1 1⁄2 cup of canned/frozen corn kernels. There is no need to thaw frozen corn before using it.

The soup will lack natural sweetness that comes from fresh corn cobs when you use canned/frozen corn kernels. To counteract this lack of sweetness, it is a good idea to add half a cup of diced carrot if you choose to use canned or frozen corn instead of fresh corns.

How to cook Indonesian spinach and corn soup: (1) Boil vegetable/chicken stock, corn, shallot, garlic, ginger, and daun salam. (2) Add spinach and tomato. (3) Season with salt.

How to cook Indonesian spinach and corn soup: (1) Boil vegetable/chicken stock, corn, shallot, garlic, ginger, and daun salam. (2) Add spinach and tomato. (3) Season with salt.

Step-by-step to prepare Indonesian sup bening

1. When using fresh corns

Boil vegetable stock/chicken stock, corn, shallot, garlic, ginger, and Indonesian bay leaves in a pot over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add spinach and tomato. Continue cooking until spinach wilts.

Turn off the heat. Season with salt if necessary. Serve immediately.

2. When using canned/frozen corn

Boil vegetable stock/chicken stock, corn kernels, diced carrots, shallot, garlic, ginger, and Indonesian bay leaves in a pot over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add spinach and tomato. Continue cooking until spinach wilts.

Turn off the heat. Season with salt if necessary. Serve immediately.

Sup bening bayam jagung - Indonesian spinach and corn soup.

Sup bening bayam jagung – Indonesian spinach and corn soup.

More great corn dishes to try

This is the height of summer and corn is plentiful and very fresh. Why not make use of them and try your hands preparing more corn dishes like these:

Sup bening bayam jagung - Indonesian spinach and corn soup.

Sup bening bayam jagung – Indonesian spinach and corn soup.

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