Every country has their own traditional soups. Korea, has their own Kimchi Stew, Tofu Stew, or the Budae Jjigae Stew. Thailand has their famous Tom-Yum Soup. Singapore has their special Bak-Kut Teh dish. How about Indonesia?
Indonesia, with their rich and various cultures, has a lot of colorful traditional soups. From yellow-to white-until black, below are some tasty and eye-catching soups from Indonesia:
1. Soto Ayam
In Indonesian language, “Soto” means soup and “Ayam” means chicken; so Soto Ayam is basically the Indonesian version of chicken soup. The most common version of Soto consists of yellow-colored soup with chicken meat (or beef); with vermicelli or noodles in it. It is also served with hard boiled eggs, cabbages, and celery leaves. Sometimes, people will also add “Koya”, a powder of mixed prawn crackers with fried garlic. The soup’s yellow color comes from Turmeric, which is one of the main ingredients to get the yellow chicken broth.
There are several types of Soto in Indonesia, and they vary from one another. Jakarta, which is the home for Betawi people, has their own “Soto Betawi” with its sweet, creamy, coconut-milk base. They also have Soto Ceker, a chicken foot soto which is usually offered as a variation of the usual Soto Ayam, Soto Babat – a cow’s or goat’s tripe soto served in yellow spicy coconut milk soup with vermicelli, potato, and vegetables is also served in the area, and Soto Tangkar, a soto made of chopped goat or beef ribs and beef brisket cooked in coconut milk soup with various Indonesian spices.
2. Opor Ayam
Opor Ayam is braised chicken cooked in coconut milk from Indonesia. The main ingredients are chicken, hard-boiled eggs and vermicelli cooked in coconut milk with a mixture of spices consisting of palm sugar, lemongrass, shallot, lemon leaf, ground garlic, galangal, coriander, and cooking oil. The chicken is braised (using small flame) until it’s cooked and the coconut milk has thickened. This coconut milk makes the Opor Ayam’s soup color is white and thick. Opor ayam is also a popular dish for Idul Fitri (Moslem’s religious holiday) and is usually eaten with ketupat (traditional rice cakes) and sambal goreng ati (beef liver with chili).
3. Sop Buntut
Oxtail soup is a very popular dish in Indonesia. This soup is flavored with garlic, onion and local spices like pepper and cloves. Because of the boiled broth, the soup has a clear color. A new variation of oxtail soup is that the oxtail is fried and served dry, and the soup broth is served in a separate bowl.
4. Sayur Asem
Sayur asem is a popular sweet-and-sour Indonesian dish. This soup consists of peanuts, young jackfruit, melinjo, and long beans; and are all cooked in tamarind-based soup. Sayur Asem is originally a dish from West Java, and is well-known for being a Sundanese cuisine. The sweet and sour flavor of Sayur Asem is considered refreshing and very compatible with other fried food such as fish and salted fish. There are several variations of this dish, including Sayur Asem kangkung (includes water spinach), Sayur Asem with Salted Fish (usually with tiny murrel fish), and Sayur Asem with Red Beans (includes red beans and green beans in tamarind and beef stock).
Rawon is a traditional Indonesian black beef soup that came from East Java. It uses black nuts/keluak (fruits of kepayang tree) as the main spice, adding a dark color and a strong flavor to the soup. The soup is made of ground mixture of keluak, garlic, shallot, candlenut, turmeric, and red chili. The mixture is sautéed and poured into the boiled beef stock with diced beef. Lemongrass, galangal, bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves and sugar are then added as seasonings. The soup is usually topped with green onion and fried shallot together with baby bean sprouts, salted preserved egg, shrimp crackers and chili sauce.
These colorful soups are not only pretty to look at, but also healthy and delicious at the same time. They also describe the richness and variety of the Indonesian culture. So the next time you visit Indonesia, make sure to try all these colorful Indonesian soups!
By Ivana Monica Bing Sarah, ASEAN Correspondent from Indonesia