I recently bought some Kecap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) from the supermarket, mistakenly thinking it was regular soy sauce. After a little internet investigation, I learned that Kecap Manis is a soy sauce unique to Indonesia and is made thick, sweet and syrupy by the addition of an almost fudge-like palm sugar.
So I was left wondering what I could do with it, until I stumbled upon Kayotic Kitchen’s recipe for Babi Kecap, a classic Indonesian dish which Rick Stein calls a “celebration of Kecap Manis”. One thing led to another, meaning that I tried it, and Meneer Prins fell in love.
Indonesian food plays a significant part in Dutch cuisine due to the fact that Indonesia used to be called the Dutch East Indies, and was therefore a colony of the Dutch empire. In fact in my experience here in Holland, most Chinese takeaways offer more Indonesian dishes than Chinese. Since living in the Netherlands, I have learned to love the cuisine but hadn’t yet ventured into actually making an Indonesian dish. Babi Kecap therefore has the honour of being my first foray into cooking Indonesian food.
My recipe for Babi Kecap is an amalgamation of various recipes I’ve since experimented with, including Kay’s delicious recipe in “Kayotic Kitchen” and Rick Stein’s version from his cookbook “Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey”. If you’ve already made your Asian Chicken Stock (see my recipe here) or if you choose to use regular chicken stock, then my version is very easy and fairly quick to make (less than an hour in total).
I love serving Babi Kecap with rice, and garnishing the dish with spring onions and mild chillies. But the real pièce de résistance are the crispy fried onions which you can either make yourself by simply frying finely chopped shallots or onions in oil, or by buying them pre-made in the supermarket or Asian foodstore.
- 1 large onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- knob of fresh ginger (roughly 25g)
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 kilo of pork meat cut into small pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 3 large red chillies
- 1 red bird's eye chilli
- 500ml Asian Chicken Stock (or regular chicken stock)
- spring onions, mild red chilli, and crispy fried onions to garnish
- Finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium heat.
- Add the pork pieces and gently brown. When ready, remove the pork pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the finely chopped onion to the pot and fry until golden. Add more oil if necessary.
- Add the garlic, ginger, salt, cumin, and ground coriander and cook for a further minute while stirring.
- Add the kecap manis, soy sauce, tamarind paste, ground pepper, chillies, and stock to the pot and simmer with the lid on and over a low heat for 30 minutes.
- Check to make sure the sauce is thickening nicely. If the ratio of sauce to meat looks good, then cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Otherwise, leave the lid off to allow the sauce to reduce for 15 minutes.
- Serve with rice and garnish with chopped mild red chillies, spring onion, and crispy fried onions.