I was looking through the recipes that I have published so far, and I could not believe I haven’t shared this super delicious soto daging to this day. This is one of the very first soto recipes I learn to make when I started having to cook for myself back in college days, which is more than a decade ago, and this suddenly makes me feel old [depressed]. I was taking some college classes in Malaysia and then halfway I transferred to a college in the Midwest. I was freaked out that I still had so… many courses I needed to graduate, I played catch up and took like 22-24 credits each semester for 2 1/2 years toward my graduation. Crazy times.
Even when I was so swamped with school work, I still managed to find time in weekends to do grocery and prepare food for 1 whole week. Two reasons, the first one being it was so much cheaper to cook my own food than eating out, and the second one was because I was so sick and tired of eating out even if I had the money, which I didn’t, which probably contributed to the quality of the take-out food I resorted to in the first place. What I prepared back then was nothing fancy of course, and I gravitated to soups like this since I can make a huge batch that lasted for at least a week. I have to admit back then my dishes most likely didn’t taste as good as now, and definitely not nearly as pretty 😉
Indonesia is home to hundreds of chili sauce and relish. The easiest one to make at home is probably this sambal tomat kecap – Indonesian tomato chili relish. This sambal is a favorite accompaniment for fried/grilled chicken, fish, tofu, and tempe dishes. Also, unlike many Indonesian sambal with terasi (shrimp paste) in it, sambal tomat kecap is totally vegan friendly.
Kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
You will need tomato, shallot, chili, lime, and of course kecap manis. You can buy kecap manis from online (e.g. Amazon), but if your neighborhood Asian market has them, it will most likely be much cheaper. If you must make a long trip to Asian market, be sure to stock up since they can last for a while.
Let’s make some sambal
Once you gather all the ingredients, all you need to do is some chopping, pouring, and squeezing. Dice tomato, slice the chili and shallot, and place them in a bowl. Next, cut and squeeze one lime into the tomato mixture. Finally, pour the kecap manis. Just mix everything together and your sambal tomat kecap is done.
Spicy food lovers rejoice! Today I am sharing this wonderfully umami loaded bakso sapi saus Padang – Indonesian spicy meatballs with you. There are two parts of the recipe, making the meatballs, and the amazingly delicious saus Padang (spicy tomato and chili sauce). I get it that some don’t eat beef in their diets, like my Mom, so feel free to sub with ground chicken or ground pork for the meatballs. Regardless of your meat choice, I promise it will come out ah-may-zing!
Bakso Sapi (Beef Meatballs)
There is nothing exceptionally different in making Indonesian style meatballs (bakso) compared to its Western counterpart. The main different lies more in cooking process. There are two main ways in cooking the meatballs, either we boil them in plenty of water, or we deep fry them in super hot oil. We are going to go with the first method for this recipe.
Saus Padang (Umami Rich Tomato and Chili Sauce)
Padang cuisine is famous for its spicy and savory dishes and is one of the most beloved in the country. There is a saying that no matter where you are in Indonesia, there will be at least one Padang restaurant to satisfy your craving. But saus Padang, literally Padang sauce, has nothing to do with the distinguished cuisine. Instead, this sauce is basically a super spicy tomato sauce consists mainly of tomato ketchup, chili sauce, and oyster sauce, with aromatics such as onion, garlic, and ginger. I’m guessing it starts as some signature sauce in a restaurant that somehow gets adopted widely around the country.
When Indonesians mention ayam goreng (fried chicken), what we really mean is ayam ungkep, and you can use the term interchangeably.
Ungkep translates to braising, and the name reflects the fact that what we fry is not raw chicken, but chicken that has been braised in a pot of broth filled with spices.
Since the chicken is fully cooked once braised, the deep frying (goreng) is simply to give the chicken a crispy skin and doesn’t take long at all.
Perfect fried chicken dish for busy people
Many Indonesians prepare ayam ungkep in really large batches during the ungkep (braising) process.
My Mom used to braise multiple birds in the biggest stock pot she owns, then she will strain the cooked chicken, and portion them into separate freezer bags. Over the course of several weeks, she will regularly thaw one bag at a time, deep fry, and serve us some fried chicken. Don’t you think this is such a smart thing to do?
Of course, if you want to follow her and prepare multiple batches, please be sure to scale up all the ingredients.
Save the flavorful broth for your bubur ayam
Every time I cook ayam ungkep (Indonesian fried chicken), I will be left with a pot of very flavorful spiced broth. What I do is I strain this to get a clear broth, and save it to serve with my bubur ayam.
I especially like this approach when I get a rotisserie chicken from the grocery, so I simply need to prepare some plain congee (bubur), ladle the flavorful chicken broth over the plain congee, and top with shredded rotisserie chicken.
Or, if you are somehow sick of eating fried chicken (Is this even possible?), you can serve the braised chicken and the flavorful broth with a bowl plain congee too!
What can I serve with ayam ungkep?
Although the most common way is to enjoy ayam ungkep for lunch/dinner with a plate of steamed white rice and a side of sambal terasi/sambal bajak, this Indonesian fried chicken shows up as one of the side dishes in many Indonesian rice dishes, such as:
Rendang regularly shows up among the list of world’s most delicious food, and if you have ever sink your teeth into the savory, spicy, and slowly braised rendang, you are sure to nod your head in agreement. Beef is probably the more popular rendang, but if you want a quicker meal, chicken rendang is definitely trailing in a close second.
Where is the origin of rendang?
Rendang is the most distinguished dish of the Minang people, and the people of Minang has existed since long before either Indonesia or Malaysia becomes a country. Minang people traveled far and wide, and the rendang that existed today originates from Minang, with slight differences in different regions.
You will hear debates and claims from the two countries that rendang is theirs, but I like to think the Minang will scoff and remind both sides that rendang is theirs, and since there are plenty of Minang descents in both countries, everyone should just shut up and eat their rendang happily.
How long do you cook a rendang?
After a long discussion with my Minang friend, I arrive at this wisdom. One needs to cook rendang on a slow fire (simmering), in a wok, without any cover, until the sauce is reduced and even darken and caramelized (if possible).
If one is in a hurry and leave the sauce reduced only by half, it is best to call it a gulai instead of a rendang.
And if one is slightly more patient and wait until the sauce is reduced to less than a quarter, it should be called a kalio.
Only when the sauce is truly reduced and even turn slightly dark, then the dish can be called a rendang.
It starts to feel like autumn in Oregon, especially with all the rains we’ve been having almost non-stop for the whole week! My cravings for comfort food grows in exponential proportion, and the saba bananas on my countertop that were intended for banana bread seemed to whisper to me, “turn us into pisang goreng …”
Needless to say, the battle of pisang goreng vs. banana bread didn’t last long, and after a little bit of mixing and deep-frying, I happily stuffed my face with as much pisang goreng as my stomach could handle! After I snapped some photos to share, of course. I’m not THAT barbaric!
What is pisang goreng?
Pisang goreng is basically bananas coated with batter and deep-fried in hot oil. Once deep-fried, the batter turns crispy, while the banana is of course, sweet and tender.
It sounds so easy, because it is, and yet this humble pisang goreng is a masterpiece despite its simplicity. How else can you explain the need for at least one gorengan (deep-fried snacks, bananas are always the star) seller in every street corner across Indonesia, and none of them seems to be lacking for hungry customers?
Honestly, when I was still in Indonesia, there is almost no incentive to learn to make a proper pisang goreng. Whenever the cravings hit, I simply need to step out from the comfort of my home and walk to the nearest gorengan seller. It would be a surprise if anyone needs more than a 15-minutes walk to spot one of these sellers.
This all changes once you live away from Indonesia for a while, and I am sure many of you have pisang goreng cravings that simply must be quenched! So read on, my dear readers. 🙂
Which bananas should I use to make pisang goreng?
There are several varieties of bananas (and plantains) that are suitable to prepare pisang goreng. The more popular ones include:
raja/radja bananas (Indonesian: pisang raja)
saba bananas (Indonesian: pisang kepok)
plantains (Indonesian: pisang tanduk)
So far, I have only seen saba bananas and plantains in the US. Your best bet to score some saba bananas is through your local Asian market. Plantains are more readily available even in regular stores.
Personally, I prefer raja bananas > saba bananas > plantains, but since I haven’t been able to find any raja bananas yet, I have been making pisang goreng with saba bananas.
Regardless of the variety, it is imperative that you must wait until the bananas/plantains are ripe. This means the skins should be yellow and have dark spots. Be patient and wait for a few days if your bananas/plantains are still green.
The all-important batter for crispy pisang goreng
The secret to the crispiest pisang goreng lies in the batter. After many frustrating trials and errors, I am quite happy with this incarnation.
THIS is the batter that finally can make my pisang goreng stays crispy for at least 1 hour, I think it is safe to say they should stay crispy for up to 2 hours!
Unless you somehow need your pisang goreng to stay crispy for more than 2 hours, but why would anyone need that?
Pisang goreng is like french fries, they taste amazing while piping hot, not so when it’s cold and uh, soggy. So ideally, one should consume pisang goreng under 30 minutes, exactly like french fries, or you know, other deep-fried food in general.
My crispy pisang goreng batter
You will need the following ingredients to make the pisang goreng batter:
Sayur lodeh is Indonesian vegetable stew in coconut milk. Like its cousin, sayur asem, sayur lodeh has no fixed rules on which vegetables to use.
As long as you have the ingredients to prepare the spiced coconut milk broth, you can create your own version of lodeh from an assortment of vegetables you have in your home.
To me, cooking a batch of lodeh is a great way to clean up my fridge from the odd carrot, celery, and whatnot. 🙂
What are the typical vegetables that go into an Indonesian sayur lodeh?
It is true you can use an assorted mixture of vegetables to prepare sayur lodeh, but here is a list of the more commonly used vegetables in a typical Indonesia sayur lodeh:
snake/long bean (Indonesian: kacang panjang)
Thai eggplant (Indonesian: terong hijau)
Chinese eggplant (Indonesian: terong ungu)
Indonesian tempe/soybean tempeh, if you want, you can use my recipe to make homemade tempeh
corn (Indonesian: jagung)
cabbage (Indonesian: kol)
chayote (Indonesian: labu siam)
melinjo leaves (Indonesian: daun melinjo)
Those are just the more popular and more common vegetables you see in a typical lodeh. You don’t have to use all of them, just pick at least 3 vegetables, then choose either tempeh or tofu for the protein, and you should get a proper Indonesian lodeh. 🙂
What are the spices to prepare sayur lodeh broth?
To prepare the coconut milk broth, you will need:
coconut milk (Indonesian: santan)
water, or chicken stock
shallot (Indonesian: bawang merah)
garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
red chilies (Indonesian: cabe merah), I use Fresno chilies, but you can use bird-eye chilies or cayenne chilies too
If you prefer a white-colored broth, omit red chilies and ground turmeric when you make the spice paste. Simply slice the red chilies and add them with the vegetables when cooking the stew.
If you prefer an orange-colored broth like the one in my photos, please add the red chilies (plus 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric, if you wish) when you make the spice paste.
I must say that most Indonesians prefer the white-colored broth though. 🙂
How do you cook sayur lodeh?
Sayur lodeh is one of the easiest vegetable stew you can make. Once all the prep work is done, please do the following:
Heat oil in a soup pot/wok over medium-high heat. Fry the spice paste until fragrant. This should take about 5 minutes.
Add daun salam (if using) and thinly sliced chilies (if not included in the spice paste). Stir for another minute.
Add coconut milk, water/chicken stock, season with salt and palm sugar. Bring to a boil.
Add long/snake beans, eggplants, soybean tempeh, and tomato. Once it boils again, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are fully cooked and tender. Adjust the amount of salt/palm sugar as needed.
Turn off the heat, transfer to a serving bowl, and serve immediately with steamed white rice.
What do I serve with sayur lodeh?
Sayur lodeh is one of Indonesian festive food. As such, it is usually served together with many other dishes, such as:
Gado-gado is my favorite Indonesian salad. This Sundanese dish is a national favorite, and it consists of lightly boiled and blanched vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, fried tofu and/or tempeh cubes, and lontong (steamed rice cakes) served with spicy peanut sauce.
For most Indonesian, gado-gado is pretty much our national salad, and apparently, since 2018, gado-gado has been designated as one of Indonesian five national food (the other four being soto, sate, rendang, and nasi goreng).
Personally, whenever I return home to Indonesia, gado-gado is definitely one of the food that I must eat, and this is one of the foods I make whenever I’m feeling homesick. ♥
What are the typical ingredients in a gado-gado?
The literal translation of gado-gado is mix-mix, so basically it is a dish made of a mixture of ingredients. And, although I have translated gado-gado as a salad, this dish is more like a complete meal on its own.
A proper gado-gado should have the following ingredients:
lontong/ketupat (steamed rice cake), this is the carb
boiled potatoes, also a carb
hard-boiled eggs, the protein
fried tofu and/or tempe cubes, another protein
an assortment of lightly blanched and raw vegetables
The more popular vegetable choice for gado-gado includes long/snake beans (Indonesian: kacang panjang), mung bean sprouts (Indonesian: tauge), spinach (Indonesian: bayam), or water spinach (Indonesian: kangkung), chayote (Indonesian: labu siam), cabbage (Indonesian: kol), and cucumber (Indonesian: timun).
Aside from the cucumber, the rest of the vegetables are typically lightly blanched, or boiled to the point they start to wilt.
Although these vegetables are what we commonly use in our gado-gado, feel free to use any vegetables you have at home.
Some of the vegetables that I have personally used includes green beans (perfect to sub for long/snake beans), sweet potato (perfect to sub for regular potato), red cabbage, lettuce, or napa cabbage (perfect to sub for regular cabbage), broccoli, carrots, tomato, and radishes.
How to prepare gado-gado peanut dressing/sauce?
There are so many foods in Indonesia that have peanut sauce, not just gado-gado. Each food has its distinct mixture and even texture of peanut sauce.
A typical gado-gado peanut sauce is made from fried/roasted peanuts, garlic, palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa), bird-eye chilies (Indonesian: cabe rawit), toasted terasi/belacan/shrimp paste, salt, tamarind (Indonesian: asam Jawa), lime, sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis), and water.
If you order a gado-gado from an Indonesian restaurant that specializes in selling gado-gado, your sauce is typically made from scratch once the order is placed. Sometimes, the seller even grinds the sauce right in front of you. And as he/she makes the sauce, you can request to tweak the sauce a bit, like, adding more garlic, reducing the chilies, e.t.c., which I think is quite cool.
At home though, I typically make a big batch of peanut sauce at once since it’s easier. Here is how to prepare the peanut sauce:
Using a food processor, grind peanuts, garlic, palm sugar, chilies, terasi/belacan/shrimp paste, and salt. Try to stop when the peanuts still have some chunks and not completely turned into a smooth paste.
Transfer the peanut mixture into a mixing bowl, add tamarind juice, lime juice, and sweet soy sauce.
Then add enough hot water to the mixture while stirring to get the consistency of the peanut sauce that you like.
Make-ahead gado-gado peanut sauce
Whenever I’m in the mood to make some gado-gado sauce, I always make them in a big batch. Usually,I make four times the amount listed here!
Follow the sauce prep up to step 2. Then, gather the peanut sauce mixture and shape into several blocks, for ease, I usually make sure that one block is enough for one serving.
Wrap each peanut sauce block with a saran wrap and refrigerate/freeze. The sauce should last for up to 1 week if refrigerated, and can last up to 2 months if frozen.
When I want to eat some gado-gado, I simply remove one block of the peanut sauce and mix it with hot water. I think it is a very neat trick. 🙂
Other Indonesian dishes with peanut sauce
If you love dishes with peanut sauce, you may want to try these Indonesian recipes, each with its own unique peanut sauce:
Acar is the most popular Indonesian pickle. We serve this as a side dish to accompany nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice), mi goreng (Indonesian stir-fried noodles), sate/satay, martabak, and soto. It will perk up even the most humble instant noodles/ramen.
Those new to pickling anything, making acar is a good introduction. It doesn’t require fancy tools, and all the ingredients for the vegetables and pickling juice are widely available no matter where you are in the world.
Ingredients for acar (Indonesian pickle)
1. Vegetables for acar: cucumber, carrot, shallot, and red chilies
We will not cook any of these vegetables, so you must use the freshest possible ingredients so your acar will be delicious and has a long shelf-life.
You can use garden cucumber (the most common variety in the US), Kirby cucumber (pickling cucumber), or even English cucumber. If your cucumber is waxed, be sure to give it a good scrub to remove the wax. Alternatively, you can peel the cucumber too though I love the dark green color of the peel and would rather scrub than peel.
2. Pickling juice: water, sugar, salt, and vinegar
You can use distilled white vinegar, or if you are feeling fancy, try cane sugar vinegar or rice vinegar. Since cane sugar and rice vinegar are both milder compared to distilled white vinegar, you will need to use more when using these.
Step-by-step to prepare Indonesian pickle
1. Prep the vegetables
Scrub/peel the cucumber, remove the seeds, and cut it into small cubes. Peel carrot and shallot and cut them into small cubes. Chop red chilies. Please make sure that the cucumber, carrot, and shallot are all about the same size.
2. Salt the vegetables
Sprinkle chopped vegetables with about a teaspoon of salt in a mixing bowl and set aside for 10 minutes. Salting reduces the water content from the vegetables and makes the pickle crispier. Salt chilies separately if you don’t want a spicy pickle.
Wash the vegetables under running water and strain with a colander. Set aside.
3. Pickle the vegetables
Boil water, sugar, salt, and vinegar in a pot until sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and add all the vegetables into the pot.
After 10 minutes of resting period, transfer the pickle to clean glass jars. You should be able to fill four 8-ounce glass jars. Let the pickle cool slightly before storing it in the fridge.
Storing and serving Indonesian pickle
Store acar in the fridge. It is best to rest the pickle for at least one day to develop the flavor before serving.
Storing the pickle in multiple smaller jars will prolong their shelf lives. An unopened jar should stay fresh for up to two months. Once open, please consume the pickle within one week.
Kambing (mutton) dishes are commonly served during Islamic festivals in Indonesia, especially to celebrate Idul Adha (Eid al-Adha), or the feast of the sacrifice.
One of the most popular Indonesian kambing dishes is probably gulai kambing, or lamb curry. This is a coconut-based curry dish with a long list of spices. The meat will be super soft and tender, and the umami-rich sauce goes perfectly with steamed white rice.
If rice is not your cup of tea, you can always serve it with your choice of flatbread. Naan or pita would go nicely with the curry.
Ingredients for Indonesian lamb curry
1. Lamb (or mutton)
Mutton is what we commonly use in Indonesia when making gulai kambing.
I use lamb since most grocery stores in the United States carry lamb, and only some specialty markets sell mutton. If you can procure mutton, feel free to replace the lamb with mutton.
2. Coconut milk
Almost all Indonesian curry recipes will need coconut milk, and this lamb curry is no exception.
I use canned coconut milk, which is thicker compared to boxed coconut milk in the US. If you live in Asia, like Indonesia or Malaysia, your boxed coconut milk should have the same thickness as US canned coconut milk.
Like any other Indonesian curries, this dish needs a lot of spices, which make it super delicious.
For the fresh spices, we need shallot, garlic, red chilies, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves.
For the dry spices, we need daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves), cardamom, cinnamon, candlenuts, turmeric, coriander, cumin, coconut palm sugar, salt, and ground white pepper.
Cooking Indonesian gulai kambing
1. Prepare spice paste
Use a food processor or a mortar and pestle to grind shallot, garlic, red chilies, candlenuts, ginger, galangal, coriander, turmeric, and cumin into a spice paste.
2. Fry spice paste
Heat cooking oil in a pot and sauté spice paste, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, Indonesian bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the lamb/mutton meat and stir until no longer pink.
4. Add coconut milk and seasoning
Add the coconut milk, water/stock, coconut palm sugar, salt, and white pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lamb is tender and the sauce has reduced by half, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Turn off heat and serve the lamb curry immediately with steamed white rice, naan or pita.
Other Indonesian curries to try
Indonesian cuisine has so many different curries. If you too are a curry lover, why not give some of these curry recipes a try?