Fermented soybean paste (“Taoco” in Indonesian) is a traditional cooking condiment used in varieties of stir-fry dishes. Made from soybean, it is washed and soaked in water for 24 hours. It was peeled, boiled and fermented for two to three days. Rice flour is then added, sun-dried for two to five days, salt is then added. The final fermentation takes 1 to 2 weeks. Additional spices and flavorings are added and boiled for one last time and packed in small jars or plastic bags.
Medan – where I live now, is one of the major producers for fermented soy bean paste. The paste from this area has slightly saltier taste compared to other parts of the country, where more sugar is added.
The following dish is a very popular dish – mainly in rural area where people have parties at home to celebrate certain events or highlights, such as birthdays, coming of age, marriage. Such parties will involve willing family members, relatives and neighbors to come and cook for the festivities. This is always present because it can be cooked in big batches, this is also really cheap to make. Sometimes this is prepared with slight variation of the ingredients but the essence of spices and cooking style are mainly the same.
This time I used round and small eggplant, sized of big grapes (anybody knows what this variety of eggplant called?) and beancurd skin. This is what Pai always makes at her house for her home parties. My father commented that it was not spicy enough – it really wasn’t until you chewed on one of the chili slices, of course.
Anyway, fermented soy bean paste always has a very interesting umami taste to it, I think all dish using this will always be savory and delicious.
Click below for the ingredients, instructions and how-to shoots on prepping dried beancurd skin for this tasty dish.
2 red chili, cut thinly and diagonally
4 (40 gr) green chili, cut thinly and diagonally
7 stinky beans, halved
4 (30 gr) cloves shallot, sliced thinly
1 (5 gr) clove garlic, sliced thinly
2″ (15 gr) galangal, flattened
0.5″ ginger, flattened
1 lemongrass, flattened
15 gr palm sugar (or brown sugar)
225 gr round eggplant, halved
75 gr dried beancurd
1 tablespoon South East Asian fermented soybean paste
5 salam leaves
1 tomato, quartered
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooking oil for deep frying
2 tablespoons cooking oil for stir frying
1 1/2 cup water
- Heat 2 cups cooking oil in a wok / saucepan. When the oil is hot enough (smoke starts to come out), deep fry the whole beancurd skin sheet for one minute each side, until the skin fluff out. Remove and continue with the rest. Run the fried bean curd under runny water and tear them up to bite sizes by hands. Drain and set aside
- In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil over medium heat. Stir fry sliced shallot and garlic for two minutes
- Toss in stinky beans, galangal, ginger, lemongrass and salam leaves. Cook for two more minutes
- Add eggplant halves, tomato, fermented soybean paste (taoco) and salt. Mix well for two minutes
- Reduce heat, add chili slices and 1 1/2 cup of water. Simmer for 5 minutes
- Add beancurd skin and soy sauce. Mix well and remove from heat
- Serve warm
- If milder version is preferred, reduce the amount of chili needed and / or remove the seeds
- Any other ingredients can be added, such as shrimp, deep fried tempe (soybean cake) chip, string beans, etc