4 things i love about Indonesian food

1. Beef

Indonesians don’t need to use Wagyu beef, or Angus beef, or any specific breed whatsoever to serve you a nice beef dish. I suspect you can just hand them any beef, any cut, and they can make it taste good. Indonesians are experts at marinating beef. You will not be able to find any beef that has a hint of raw odour. There are many different types of beef dishes in Indonesia, but the most popular ones are probably Dendeng (jerky), Iga (ribs) and Buntut (oxtail). I think Indonesian Beef Oxtail, whether Sop Buntut (soup) or Buntut Goreng (fried) are hard to beat – the best in the world!

Buntut Goreng from Dapur Dahapati, Bandung
Awesome Sop Buntut, also from Dapur Dahapati

2. Grilled food

Bakar or grilling is the mainstay of Indonesian cuisine. Fish, chicken and duck are the most popular grilled dishes. It takes some skill to grill to perfection – evenly and slightly charred but not burnt, and Indonesians have no lack of such skill. Equally important for grilled meat is the marinade, and Indonesians do this really well. The taste is not like the Indonesian food found in Singapore that is typically singularly sweet. It has the right and rich blend of sweet and saltiness.

Gurame Bakar
Gurame Bakar

3. Sambal

Sambal is an Indonesian creation, so naturally they make the best sambal. The sambal is usually good enough to even eat on its own, since, anyway, it will mask the taste of whatever you’re eating.

Various sambal and sauces
Various sambal and sauces

4. Bubur Sumsum

Bubur sumsum is a soft paste made of rice flour. It was love at first bite and i found myself wanting more of this smooth, fragrant and slightly salty tasting paste. It resembles the Chwee Kueh from Singapore, except that it is thinner and salty. It is usually taken together with other items, as in the case of Bubur Madura (pictured below), and it has the effect of balancing the sweet taste of the other items. Indonesian Cendol is made in a similar way – slightly salty, which, in my opinion, enhances the overall taste.

Bubur Sumsum is the white colour paste at the 3 o'clock position
Bubur Sumsum is the white colour paste at the 3 o’clock position
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