Ketoprak – Indonesia’s Finest Vegetarian Street Food.

Ketoprak – Indonesia’s Finest Vegetarian Street Food.

Ketoprak, it is a meal which is truly more than the sum of its ingredients. First of all, I had salad, I hate meals with no meat, and I actually hate a lot of the individual ingredients of this dish. Yet, it is 100% true to say, that of all Indonesian street food, ketoprak is my favourite.

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This is a salad with a difference. Salads as the West know them, are typically dressed with an oily vinaigrette, or some form of mayonnaise. With ketoprak, the dressing is a thick, salty, sweet peanut sauce with a light tang to it.

The actual components of the salad are very different too. Protein in the form of eggs and tofu, starch from bihun (vermicelli noodles) and ketupat (rice cake) and the vegetables are beansprouts and cucumber. Finally, it is finished off with crackers, and some glorious crispy fried shallots for that crunchy texture. And lets not forget about that thick peanut sauce.

All of these ingredients are simple, and on their own slightly bland, but when you bring them together and mix them together in this incredible sauce; you get the kind of meal that a deathrow convict would order for their final meal.

Most of these ingredients are simple to find anywhere, though it is possible you’ll struggle with the tamarind juice in the peanut sauce, and the starchy ketupat. Tamarind juice, or asam in Indonesian, is a tangy acidic liquid, and if can be processed directly from the tamarind fruit. Just ensure that it is the sour variety, and not the sweet one. If you can’t find it, then simply use lemon or lime juice which is watered down in water. Use a ratio of about 1:2; 1 part lime, or lemon, juice and two part water. Ketupat is an essential part of the dish, and some Asian superstores may sell packs which help you make your own, ask for ketupat or rice cakes. If its not possible to find it, it can be roughly substituted for boiled new potatoes, just ensure you remove the skin.

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Ayo! Mari bikin ketoprak – Lets make Ketoprak.

Ingredients

Peanut Sauce

500g peanuts – toasted, but not salted
2 cloves of garlic
2 birds eye chillies
1 tablespoon red sugar
watered down tamarind sauce – 2 parts tamarind, 3 parts water
sweet soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Salad ingredients –  ultimately, the amounts are up to you, but this is a rough guide.

1/2 handful of bihun – vermicelli noodles
1/2 handful of beansprouts
5cm of cucumber cut up into chunks
8-10 bitesize pieces of tofu
1 clove of garlic
8-10 bitesize pieces of ketupat / 4 – 5 halved new potatoes
1 boiled egg (remove and this can be vegan – yay)
8 – 10 Asian crackers
fried crispy shallots to garnish

Instructions
1. All of the ingredients in this meal are cold, so start of by boiling your eggs, and allowing them to cool before shelling. At the same time, in a pan, with about 1cm of oil in it and a clove of garlic, gently fry the tofu until the outside is browned.

2. Next make the paste for the sauce. Indonesian’s use a cobek and ulek – ulek, but you can use a mortar and pestle. I don’t recommend a blender, but if you’re lazy, don’t over blitz anything. Start of with grinding up the garlic and chillies with the salt. This does need to be made into a fine paste, and the salt helps do this.

3. Once the garlic and chillies are done, add in the sugar, follow by the peanuts. Don’t over grind the peanuts, some of its needs to be chunky for added texture. Now the paste is complete.

Note: This paste will actually make 3-4 portions of ketoprak, it is simply easier to make too much and then freeze it until next time.

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4. Take about 2 – 3 tablespoons of the peanut paste, and add it into your serving bowl. From here add about 2 tablespoons of kecap manis / sweet soy sauce, and three tablespoons of the tangy tamarind water. Mix together thoroughly, and you should have a thick salty and sweet sauce. From here, add more of sweet soy sauce or tamarind water depending on your preference, what it is currently is my personal preference.

5. Once your sauce is made, lets begin assembling the salad. On top of the sauce, add the tofu and ketupat first.

6. Then on top of this add the bihun and beansprouts, and then scatter the cucumber. I then like to add a little more sweet soy sauce to the beansprouts and bihun, and then mix it all together.

7. Finally, sprinkle a few pieces of the crispy shallots, and add boiled egg, cut in half. Serve with the crackers on the side.

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Essential Indonesian ingredients – kecap manis

Essential Indonesian ingredients – kecap manis

Indonesian cuisine is a treasure trove of unique ingredients combining to make incredible dishes. Despite its rich history, and fair share of famous meals, many of this cuisines most essential ingredients are not widely known. In this part of my blog, I hope to give you useful information regarding the best ingredients that Indonesian has to offer.

Kecap manis, quite possibly one of Indonesia’s best kept culinary secrets, is  an essential sauce in any Indonesia’s home. Kecap, generally refers to soy based sauces (kecap asin or kecap manis), and manis means sweet. It is essentially a sweet soy sauce.

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The flavour this sauce brings is deep, and complex, and it’s always best to add it in smaller amounts, until you’re used to its properties. Like all soy sauces it brings a real depth of unami to your dish, as well as a mild sweetness, with a slight hint of aniseed. It is used both within the actual cooking of a meal, and as a condiment on the side for personal tweaking.

This versatile sauce is used across a myriad of different Indonesian foods, and in many different ways too. It is essential to any mie goreng or nasi goreng (that’s fried noodles and rice to the English speakers  out there), here it is added as the final ingredient, and then cooked out to reduce the moisture and intensify the flavour. It is often used in combination with peanuts, where it perfectly balances the nuts saltiness to make sauces for things such as ketoprak, gado-gado, and sate sauce. Finally, it is a prominent ingredient for meat marinades, and is used in all forms of grilled meat meals, such as dates, and the delicious ayam bakar (translated as burnt chicken).

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Sweet soy sauce is really an ingredient unique to Indonesia, in fact over 90% of its consumption happens here alone. That being said, it does, in my belief, have the potential to be the next sriracha in terms of Asian sauces becoming popular. It makes amazing sauces for a quick, and simple stir fry, and has incredible potential in meat marinades. Both regular soy sauce, and honey are common in marinades, and this one ingredient can take the place of both. It has the opportunity for some incredible creativity.

In terms of locating this sauce outside of Indonesia, it is difficult, but not impossible. Within Europe, the Netherlands has strong ties to Indonesia, so frequently stocks the sauce. Though not everyone has the good luck to be Dutch. There are many Asian supermarkets which do sell the sauce in England, so try your luck with that or a nearby Chinatown.

In terms of brands to buy, there are 3 or 4, but there are only 2 which are worthwhile to me. Bango, and ABC, see the photos for a clearer view. Like all good sauces, the taste varies slightly between the two. ABC is saltier, and Bango sweeter, though either will do perfectly if you can only find one. My personal preference is always Bango, however, for me this sauce’s main objective is sweetness, so Bango just works better.

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I hope that was informative for you, keep an eye out for my next recipe blog this weekend. I’ll be using this incredible ingredient to change your perspective of salads forever.

Mie Goreng Tek-Tek “Fried Noodles”

Hi all!

Welcome to my first official recipe post on this new blog.

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I’m choosing to start this off with with a firm staple of Indonesian Street Food – Mie Goreng Tek – Tek. Mie (noodles), Goreng (fried) Tek-Tek (an onomatopoeic reference to advertising noise the seller makes) is really a favourite among locals, and travelers to the country. It is a simple and easy to make dish, which is eaten all day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. To buy it on the streets, where it tastes the best, will set you back between 10,000 to 15,000 Rupiah, or to us British; 50 – 75p.

First let me talk about some relatively unique ingredient; bawang merah, kecap manis, and bakso. Bawang merah is a small shallot like onion, though it is sweeter, and not quite as powerful as its English equivalent. It’s difficult to impossible to find outside of Asia, so if you can’t find it, substitute with about a 1/3 of a medium sized shallot.

Kecap manis, or sweet soy sauce, and if you haven’t tried this yet, then get to your local Asian store, and buy some. It is a staple of Indonesian cooking, and it tastes amazing, sweet with a hint of aniseed. It should be easily found at any good Asian store.

Finally, Bakso; this is basically a form process meatball which is common over most of Asia. It is commonly used in Mie Goreng, and many other Indonesian dishes. In this case though, if you can’t find it in an Asian store, simply exchange for chicken or beef.

So lets begin

Ingredients

250 grams of dry or fresh egg noodles.
5 – 6 bakso balls
1/2 a chicken breast
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
5 bawang merah (finely cut)
2 red chili (optional) (finely chopped)
2 eggs
1 bunch of mustard greens / spinach
cooking oil
1/3 cup of kecap manis
salt to taste.

Instructions

Note: You’ll spend most of the cooking time on high flame, so have all your ingredients ready, and easily accessible.

  1. Begin by partly cooking your noodles. If they are dry, follow pack instructions, but only go about 2/3 of the way, the rest will be done in the wok. If fresh, then poor in hot water, and allow to sit for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Scramble your eggs, and then cook them into basic, thin omelette. Set then roll it up and cut into ribbons. Set aside for later.
  3. In your wok, heat up your oil on a high flame, and fry the chicken. Then set aside.
  4. Then add to your wok, some extra oil, the chili, bawah merah, and garlic. Saute for a minute or two, but don’t brown. Your basically just flavouring the oil.
  5. Add the bakso, greens and chicken and fry for a little longer. Allow the greens to wilt a little.
  6. Add your noodles, and stir them around so that the flavoured oil coats them all evenly, this needs only take a moment.
  7. Add your kecap manis, and stir well to thoroughly combine. Every ingredient must be well coated in this sticky goodness.
  8. Continue to fry for an additional two minutes, this allows the noodles to finish and to cook the edge off the kecap manis.
  9. Add to plate, and top with your ribboned egg

enjoy! Or as Indonesian’s would say; “Makan!”

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Selamat Datang – Welcome to My Blog

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my blog; Bule Kitchen. This is a new blog, and my first attempt at this sort of media, so please bare with me.

I’m a Brit living in Jakarta, Indonesia, and I’ve been here now for three years. Since being here, I’ve noticed two things. First, Indonesians really can’t cook Western food, and Westerners really do butcher Indonesian classics.

As a result of these two facts, this blog has come about, as I want to share the recipes, I have learnt, and developed while being here. It will part Indonesian, and part everywhere else.

Terima kasih, and stay tuned for my first recipe – Indonesia’s finest; Mie Goreng.