Mie Sop Ayam (chicken noodle soup) is a popular and affordable street food here. The vendors normally show up wandering around busy streets after lunch time. The portion is small, and not filling. So instead of taking it as main meal, most people enjoy it as snacks or light meal.
This soupy noodle with bits of chicken meat floating on top with fried shallots, chopped greens is the easiest survival kits for self-made entrepreneur. Certain vendors have certain “secret ingredients”. Some with extra special broth, some with extra funky condiments. I once had some with splashes of peanut sauce that made my stomach go all funny
Street version of “mie sop ayam” (“mie” as in noodles, “sop” as in soup, “ayam” as in chicken) has something in common, heavily seasoned with chicken flavored powder/stock, extra sugar and salt, splashed with sweet soy sauce, bloody red tomato sauce and green chili paste. With a bottle of ice tea, that’s a meal. Although most of them will tell you the secret is in the broth, I will tell anyone who would listen that it is the condiments. The crunch of tapioca crackers, the sweet and sour of tomato sauce, the tanginess of deep fried shallot flakes do all they can to mask the real quality of the broth. Sneaky .. sneaky …
The real challenge for cooking homestyle mie sop is the preparation of the condiments. But sometimes, less is more! Making the soup in one big batch takes as much work as a small batch. It freezes well, and can be heated up easily. Tossed some fresh noodles or dried noodles or even pasta. That’s mie sop! Enjoy it with splashes of tomato sauce, sweet soy sauce and chili sauce and sprinkle generous heaps of chopped spring onions.
I have such passion for marinara sauce. I eat it with pasta of any shapes. I dunk some crusty herb bread in it. I can just go straight – eat it with a spoon. With all natural ingredients, it is very easy to make. Much easier to buy bottled marinara, but if I have an afternoon to kill, I would make a big batch that can last us a whole week. Then that week will be a marinara week.
Chopping the ingredients is hideous work. But can be mind soothing experience for me. I really like the ingredients to be perfectly cut and chopping alone can take 30 minutes. But never fails, at the end, I wish I had a good food processor.
I am using fresh tomatoes. Nothing beats fresh ingredients – I would pick the reddest ones. Stewing the tomatoes for an hour or more would bring out the brilliant red, even when I could only get the pale red tomatoes. But a quick trick if the color is still too pale, add a couple of spoonfuls bottled tomato sauce or canned tomato paste. That would brighten up the sauce greatly.
We love our fruit with something kicking. Be it some sweetened plum powder with salt or some thick gooey palm sugar sauce called Rojak Sauce (bumbu rujak).
On the street side in our city, there are many rojak vendors pushing little carts around. There are several versions too. Rojak tumbuk kacang is the fruit rojak with young plantain banana with roasted peanut in the rojak sauce. Very tangy, and can be very spicy with extra shrimp paste. The simpler fruit rojak is the most basic rojak sauce made from palm sugar block, tamarind, shrimp paste and fresh chili. The other variation include the way the fruit is cut, shredded or big chunk cut, preserved or fresh.
Since the rojak sauce is extremely sweet and sour plus spicy, men don’t think too much of it, I never know why. But we girls adore them! There’s nothing better than a tea time with fruit rojak bought, iced tea and some prawn crackers with your girlfriends. Nibbling away and gossiping the neighbors, colleagues or the street cats. Most vendors only start selling after lunch and by 5pm, they’ll be all gone. These traditional rojak vendors don’t have cooler in their tricycle, so you wouldn’t want to buy fruit that has been out on the humid street for more than 6 hours. But all the sauce from these traditional vendors are made to order – meaning, they start grinding away in their mortal and pestle when you order them. That might take a while.
For those lucky few households with Javanese helpers, homemade rojak sauce is only a phone call away. Whenever I was away on long trip, I long for homemade rojak sauce. With a handful of basic ingredients found in Asian groceries, it is easy to make! Add some cut fruits, they are ready to be served. Dip away – keep the iced-tea close by.
Long story short, I have found the passion of writing again. I have let other personal ventures crossed into the love of cooking and writing, and reading about food and cuisine. Started cooking again this weekend, and it felt great. My family is not that thrilled that, again, I will be messing up the kitchen and buy loads of unused ingredients, but it is fun to see some smoke coming out of the burner, I think.
Something easy and fun to start the year. I am a big fan of eggs. Any type of eggs. Scrambled, sunny side up, hard boiled, soft boiled, with rice, noodles. Easy meal with simple eggs on toasts or plain noodles or rice can fill me up for hours.
Spice up the plain old fried eggs is easy and quite a delight. One of my all time favorite is this simple sweet, sour and spicy treatment – sweetness from the shallots, sour from the lime juice and the hot after taste from the red chili.
Shallots, chili and sugar are like the trio of Indonesian cooking. All three are always present in people’s kitchen. Unlike the extravagant Chinese cuisine’s sweet and sour sauce, I really like this version better. The taste is all there, without the goey sauce thickener. Extra easy and extra yummy. Not using up too many pots and pans, That’s what I called easy cooking, if we can call frying eggs and dressing it up a little bit “cooking”.
Remember those days a gazillian years ago, in college, when grocery money was scarce and with exams plus assignments crashing in there wasn’t just enough time (nor money) to lavish yourself with decent food items? Well, that probably only happened to me. Those were the days when ramen noodles had become the most filling and nutritious meal of the semester. So much that I had to sacrifice to get that black sexy cocktail dress.
Since those bleak (but wild) days, I wished I had a bit of creativity to cook ramen noodles the lifeline. The snazziest thing I did with my sad bowl of ramen was add some scrambled eggs and chopped scallion. That’s about it.
So last night, I felt some creativity sparks and sometime ago I read that Giada made omelette with her leftover spaghetti. We (my brother and I) were starving and there was nothing in the pantry except instant ramen noodles and some eggs. I mixed up the two and it was good – good enough to be blogged about.
Fyi, Indonesians are famous for their instant ramen noodles that go by the name of Indomie. There are many flavors available such as chicken, spicy chicken, curry, soto, and many more. Naturally, Indomie with chicken flavor is what we have in our pantry and that was what I used in my little ritzy experiment.
First I boiled the noodles till al dente and seasoned them with the powdered stock. Stir fry some onions and tomatoes, add the seasoned noodles and pour whisked eggs onto the pan. Voala! Served with spicy tomato sauce – that would hold up the hunger for another hour. Or much less.
How do you spice up your ramen noodles? Please do share.