Fried Soybean Cake

Deep Fried Soybean Cake / Tempe

Something simple and fun. We love our soybean cake (or “tempeh” in Indonesian language). It can be sliced as thinly as potato chips, or thick chunky slices. Almost always dunked into some kind of sweet and spicy sauce.

This is prepared the same way all over the country. On street vendor’s food carts, traditional Indonesian eateries, fancy fusion restaurants.  Can be eaten as appetizers, snacks or even as part of many main course dishes.

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Coconut Jam

Coconut Jam / Srikaya

Coconut spread / coconut jam / “srikaya” /serikaya” is a well loved spread in South East Asia, mainly Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Made of only three ingredients – sugar, coconut milk and egg yolks – it is a cherished companion of bread, sticky rice and rice cake.

This takes a long time to make. The secret technique is in the slowly steaming heat. The cooking time also needs to be longer than three hours to ensure the egg yolk is thoroughly incorporated and cooked well with the rest of the ingredients.

The off-the-shelf products are easily found in any stores / bakeries / supermarkets around the country. But nothing beats making it from scratch, and it gives a rest in mind that only pure ingredients are used. The original coconut spread is thin in consistency and the color is usually light brown and glossy. Commercial types normally contain flour (to make them thicker so can be spread more easily on food surface), preservatives (for longer self-life) and coloring / flavoring (original, pandan or caramel varieties are quite common).

This particular recipe was from our grandmother. She made excellent coconut spread.

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Spicy Broccoli and Beancurd

Spicy Broccoli

A rather interesting dish. Broccoli is not that popular in the country – people who live in the province outside big cities find the taste strange and unfamiliar, and another main deterrant is that it is pricey. When we do splurge on the green florets, we tried to do something interesting with it. A little bit of twist made it feels local. 

With the usual stir frying of the spices to bring up the wonderful flavor, they are first blended using mortal/pestle or food processor. 


300 gr broccoli

250 gr firm tofu 

2 cloves garlic

3 cloves shallot

½ medium sized tomato

¼ cup (30 gr) green chili – thai’s bird eye

1 cm ginger

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

2 tablespoons cooking oil  

2 tablespoons water


  • Wash broccoli under running water for 2 minutes and cut into bite –sized florets. Soak them with salted water in a bowl for 10 – 15 minutes (optional) 
  • Into the bowl of food processor, add garlic, shallot, tomato, chili and ginger. Pulse until roughly chopped – about 5 seconds. Set aside. If the old method of mortal and pestle is used, pound away for 3 minutes or less.
  • Cut tofu into cubes and fry in non-stick pan with a bit of oil. Brown all sides and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Heat cooking oil in a wok. Fry the chopped ingredients till fragrant in medium heat – about 5 minutes. 
  • Stir in broccoli and fried tofu. Season with soy sauce.  Mix well.
  • Add water and lower the heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  • Serve warm with steam rice or noodles.

Preparation : 5 min + additional soaking : 10 min

Cooking : 15 min

Serves 4


With the amount of green chili used, this is a fiery one. For milder taste, use less chili and one whole tomato instead. 

The water added at the end is for the steaming effect.

Sambal Belacan Dried Shrimp

Sambal Terasi/Sambal Belacan” is a very famous South East Asian chili dip with hint of dried shrimp. The original recipe normally prepared using shrimp paste. The shrimp paste is made from fermented dried shrimp, anchovies and salt – sometimes coloring and artificial flavor – left out in the sun to bake and dry. This is known as belacan / terasi, which is then sold in a form of block wrapped in paper / plastic.

If the pungent smell is too much, dried shrimp can be used instead. Fry them in hot oil till they dry and they can replace the belacan.

This extra special hot dip is eaten with fresh / steamed vegetables (such as cucumber, carrot, string bean, cassava leaves, papaya leaves, cabbage, etc) – as a palate cleanser to other main courses served with steamed rice.

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Dried Beancurd Soup

Dried Beancurd Soup

Dried beancurd, also known as tofu skin, is a dried food product made from soybeans. When the soy milk is boiled in a pan, a “skin” is formed on the liquid surface. These skins are then collected and dried into yellowish sheets.

The dried form is soaked in water to hydrate it before using in soup, stir-fry, or as dumpling wrapper. 

Chinese families have always cook tofu skin with lean pork, tomato and carrot as soup. The soup is an accompaniment of other main course for lunch. 

One other ingredient used is Tianjin Preserved Vegetables, which comes in a round ceramic jar. This salty preserved cabbage is used for its strong and distinctive smell. Since the other ingredients are bland in taste, this particular item is quite crucial in giving the soup a nice boost in flavor. 

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