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.
How do you prepare your eggplant? Indonesian love to prepare eggplant dishes with plenty of sauce which goes really well with steamed white rice. One of my favorite eggplant dish is this terong saus tomat pedas – eggplant in spicy tomato sauce. A great thing about this dish is you can adjust the strength of heat by using different types of chilies. If you want a milder dish, use fresno chilies. If you want a super spicy dish, go with Thai red chilies. And when you simply cannot tolerate any heat at all, feel free to sub with red bell pepper.
This time I use eggplant that is common in United States, which is more oval and round with a darker skin color. If you have access to Asian market, you can buy the thinner and longer eggplants. The ones you buy from Asian market is closer to what you get in Indonesia. Either way, just chop your eggplant into big bite size pieces.
Eggplant and Deep Frying
Most Indonesian eggplant dishes will require deep frying the eggplant first before further cooking with sauce. I know that deep frying is not exactly a chore most people are fond of, but when it comes to eggplant, there is no avoiding it. You can try coating with oil and roast in oven, but the final dish is just not quite the same as the one I get back at home, to my taste buds at least.
Here comes the sauce
Finally, it’s time to make the sauce. Simply sauté the aromatics (garlic, ginger, and chilies), and season with tomato ketchup, kecap manis, fish sauce, pepper, sugar, and water. Once the sauce boils, add the fried eggplants, and toss gently to coat. Transfer the cooked dish to a serving plate and garnish with thinly sliced scallions.
Rica-rica is a famous spicy sauce used widely in Manado cuisine from the province of North Sulawesi in Indonesia. The first time I tried this sauce in a Manado restaurant, my tongue went numb and my eyes couldn’t stop tearing. I even ended up with a stomach upset from all the chilies. But don’t worry. This recipe for ayam goreng rica-rica – tomato & chili fried chicken is a tone down version from the original. Trust me, you need to build up your body tolerance before trying an authentic rica-rica!
The most obvious thing that will jump up when you encounter a true rica-rica dish is the absurdly insane amount of Thai bird eye chilies that greet your eyes. A super authentic recipe commonly calls for something in the order of 20-30 chilies! I’m going to chicken out and use only 2 in this recipe. To make up for the lack of red color from using only 2 chilies, I am compensating with 3 tomatoes, otherwise the color will be super off. You will also need shallot, garlic, scallions, salt, and sugar. If you wish, you can also add a lemongrass and a couple of kaffir lime leaves, but the dish is more than acceptable even without these two ingredients.
Fried chicken, two versions
This is at least my 10th post using the same fried chicken recipe. If you follow my recipes, you probably have memorized it by heart 🙂 As always, I prefer deep frying the chicken strips. But if you really must use oven, please refer to my orange hoisin chicken stir fry recipe to oven “fry” chicken strips.
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.
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.♥
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.
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:
Dry toast it on a frying pan.
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).
Toast it in an oven toaster.
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.
Dabu-dabu, or sambal dabu-dabu, is a fresh and fiery chili sauce from Manado, the provincial capital of North Sulawesi. Made from tomatoes, chilies, shallots, and lime juice, this chili sauce is sure to whet up the appetite.
The ingredient lists sound a lot like those for salsa, no? I always wonder if there is any connection between Indonesian dabu-dabu and the Spanish salsa.
The Manado people serve this with grilled seafood, especially grilled fish, but it certainly works just as well with some pan-fried chicken breasts.
Ingredients for ayam dabu-dabu
1. Pan-fried chicken breast
To prepare pan-fried chicken breast, we will need skinless-boneless chicken breasts, salt, pepper, all-purpose flour, and olive oil.
TIPS: for a quick and easy meal, you can buy a rotisserie chicken and cut it into bite-size pieces.
2. Spicy tomato salsa (dabu-dabu)
For the salsa, we will need tomatoes, shallots, bird-eye chilies, lime, salt, sugar, and cilantro.
Calamansi (Indonesian: lemon cui, or jeruk kesturi) is a more common choice, but it is hard to get fresh calamansi in the US. You may spot frozen calamansi juice in your Asian grocery, but I think lime or lemon is an easier alternative.
Choose tomato varieties that are good for salsa. You want tomatoes with a firm flesh with little seeds. Roma tomatoes are widely available is one of the best choices for salsa. Feel free to add some cherry tomatoes or green tomatoes for a more colorful presentation.
Cilantro is not common in dabu-dabu, but I love them, and adding even just a couple of tablespoons of chopped cilantro makes the salsa more flavorful.
Step 1: Prepare dabu-dabu
Dabu-dabu is best when it is chilled. I always prepare the salsa first and let it chill in the fridge before frying chicken breasts.
Wash and dry tomatoes and lime, peel shallots and remove stems from bird-eye chilies. Cut tomatoes and shallots into dices, and cut chilies into thin slices.
Place tomatoes, shallots, and chilies in a mixing bowl, along with the lime zest, lime juice, and salt. Stir to mix, cover the bowl, and chill in the fridge.
If you are going to add cilantro to your salsa, add them right before serving so the leaves stay as fresh as possible and won’t wilt too much.
Step 2: Pan-fry chicken breasts
Sprinkle each side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Lightly dust the chicken with all-purpose flour, and shake off excess all-purpose flour to get a crispy crust.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to the hot pan. Cook each side until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer cooked chicken breasts to a plate.
Rest pan-fried chicken breasts for 10 minutes, then cut into thin strips. Arrange chicken strips on a serving platter and serve with chilled dabu-dabu (spicy tomato salsa).
Sometimes, the yummiest food doesn’t require a lot of ingredients nor the most sophisticated cooking method. These Japanese bacon-wrapped cherry tomato skewers are so good, and you only need two ingredients to prepare these yummy snacks.
You may spot butabara tomatomaki (豚バラトマト巻き) in a Japanese pub (izakaya) menu, and indeed they go well with a tall glass of cold beer.
You will need bacon and cherry tomatoes, and you will also need bamboo skewers and a grill pan.
I use 8-inch bamboo skewers and a 10.5-inch Lodge cast-iron grill pan. I think the length of the skewer is perfect to thread three bacon-wrapped cherry tomatoes, and they also fit perfectly in the Lodge grill pan.
Skewer and grill
First, cut each slice of bacon into three equal-length pieces. You should end up with 24 smaller pieces from the original eight slices of bacon.
Wrap each cherry tomato with a piece of bacon. You should end up with 24 bacon-wrapped cherry tomatoes.
Thread 3 bacon-wrapped cherry tomatoes into each bamboo skewer.
Heat the grill pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, brush the grills with a little bit of oil.
If you are using a 10.5-inch Lodge grill pan, you can grill four skewers at a time. It should take about 3-4 minutes per side to cook the bacon until golden brown and slightly crispy.
Serve the grilled bacon-wrapped tomato skewers immediately. Remember to open a bottle of cold beer.
A month ago or so, my parents took us to a traditional Chinese restaurant in Northern Jakarta. The owner had lived in China for more than 30 years and decided to return to Indonesia to start a restaurant business. The food is old school Chinese through and through, so if you want authentic Chinese food, this is probably one of the best places to get it.
Among the dishes that we ordered are an egg and tomato stir-fry. It was so simple but so tasty, and it is a dish that is easy to reproduce at home. And I promise you will be able to cook this dish in under 15 minutes with this recipe! 🙂
Ingredients for tomato and egg stir-fry
You don’t need a lot of ingredients to prepare this simple dish. Here is the list of ingredients to prepare this recipe:
The one ingredient that may be harder to get is Shaoxing wine, which you can replace with Japanese sake, or even dry sherry.
If you can’t use any alcohol in your cooking, you can substitute Shaoxing wine with the same amount of chicken stock to add to the overall flavor.
How to cook egg and tomato stir-fry
1. Mix eggs with seasonings
Lightly beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Add Shaoxing wine, salt, ground white pepper, and sesame oil and mix well.
2. Prepare tomatoes
Cut the tomatoes into thin wedges. I cut mine into eight wedges per tomato for a total of 16 wedges.
3. Cook the eggs
Heat 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil in a frying pan on high heat. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Once it starts to hardened, break the egg with a spatula to get small bite-size lumps. When the eggs are no longer runny, quickly transfer to a plate.
4. Stir-fry tomatoes
Clean the frying pan a bit and heat a tablespoon of oil on high heat. Add tomato wedges and give a quick 30-second stir fry. Season the tomatoes with sugar, pour the water, give another quick stir, then cover with a lid, and cook for 30 seconds.
5. Add fried eggs and scallions
Remove the lid, return the eggs into the pan, and add the chopped scallions. Stir fry for another 30 seconds. Turn off heat and transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.
Avocado & Tomato with Balsamic Breakfast Bruschetta
Memulai hari dengan sarapan pagi yang praktis dan menyenangkan, kombinasi roti bruschetta klasik dengan topping alpukat cincang, tomat cherry dan balsamic dressing. Mudah dibuat, serta cukup mengenyangkan untuk memberi tenaga hingga waktu makan siang tiba.
Avocado & Tomato with Balsamic Breakfast Bruschetta