Chinese Indonesian cuisine
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Chinese Indonesian cuisine is characterized by the mixture of Chinese with local Indonesian style. Chinese Indonesian bring their Chinese cuisine legacy, and modified some of the dishes with addition of Indonesian local ingredients, such as kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), palm sugar, peanut sauce, chili, santan (coconut milk) and local spices formed a hybrid Chinese-Indonesian cuisine. Some of the dishes and cakes share the same style as in Malaysia and Singapore which are known as the Nonya cuisine by the Peranakan.
Chinese cuisine legacy
Chinese culinary culture is particularly evident in Indonesian cuisine through the Hokkien, Hakka, and Cantonese loanwords used for various dishes. Words beginning with bak (肉) signify the presence of meat, e.g. bakpau ("meat bun"); words ending with cai (菜) signify vegetables, e.g. pecai ("Chinese white cabbage") and cap cai ("mixed vegetables"). Also mi or mie (麵) signify noodle as in mi goreng ("fried noodle").
Most of these loanwords for food dishes and their ingredients are Hokkien in origin and are used throughout the Indonesian language and vernacular speech of large cities. Because they have become an integral part of the local language, many Indonesians and ethnic Chinese do not recognize their Hokkien origins. Some of popular Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng, mi goreng, bihun, kwetiau, lumpia and bakpia can trace their origin to Chinese influence. Some food and ingredients are part of the daily diet of both the indigenous and ethnic Chinese populations as side dishes to accompany rice, the staple food of most of the country.
Chinese influence is so evident in cities with large Chinese settlements since colonial era, especially in Jakarta, Cirebon, Semarang, Surabaya, Medan, Palembang and Pontianak. As the result numbers of mie (noodle) and tahu (tofu) recipes were developed in these cities. Chinese influence is so evident in Betawi people (native Jakartans) cuisines that basically was formed as peranakan culture, as the result Betawi people held Chinese Indonesians dishes such as asinan and mie juhi as theirs. To a certain extent, Javanese in Semarang, Solo, and Surabaya also willingly absorbs Chinese culinary influences, as the result they also considered Chinese-influenced dishes such as mie goreng, lumpia, bakso, and tahu gunting as theirs.
Because food is so prevalent in Chinese culture — just like those commonly found in Chinese communities worldwide — many Pecinan (Chinatowns) in Indonesian cities are well known as the culinary hot spots of the city. As Chinese and also native Indonesians establishing their food business, many eating establishments sprung up, from humble street side cart hawker to fancy restaurants offering their specialty. Areas such as Glodok, Pecenongan, and Kelapa Gading in Jakarta, Gardu Jati in Bandung, Kya-kya Kembang Jepun in Surabaya, and Pecinans in Cirebon, Semarang, Solo and Medan are teeming with lots of warungs and restaurants, not only offering Chinese Indonesians' dishes, but also local and international cuisines.
Adaptation to local cuisine
The Indonesian Chinese cuisine also vary with locations. For example, in different parts of Java the dishes are adapted to local culture and taste, in return Chinese Indonesians reside in this region also had developed a taste for local cuisine. In central Java, the food tends to be much sweeter, while in West Java it is saltier. In East Java Chinese food there is much salty and savory with preference of petis shrimp paste. In Medan, North Sumatra and also in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, a more traditional Chinese style can be found. Chinese cuisine in Indonesia also have absorbed local preference of spicy food and local ingredients. For example it is common to have sambal chili sauce, acar pickles and sprinkle of bawang goreng crispy fried shallot as condiment.
Chinese cuisine influences on Indonesian cuisine is evident in Indonesian take on Chinese dishes, such as mie goreng, lumpia, bakso and siomay. However the culinary influences is also took another way around. Vice versa, Chinese Indonesian also been influenced by native Indonesian cuisine. It is believed that Lontong Cap Go Meh is a Chinese Indonesian take on traditional Indonesian dishes. The dish reflect the assimilation among Chinese immigrants with local community.
Because Indonesia is Muslim majority country, some of ingredients were replaced to create a halal Chinese food; by replacing pork with chicken or beef, and replacing lard with palm oil or chicken fat. Most of Chinese eating establishments with significant Muslim native Indonesian clientele would do so. However in Chinatowns in major Indonesian cities where there is significant Chinese and non-Muslim population, Chinese restaurants that serve pork dishes such as babi kecap (pork belly in soy sauce), char siew, crispy roast pork, sweet pork sausage and sate babi (pork satay) are available.
There are different styles of Chinese food in Indonesia:
- Traditional Chinese food, such as the Teochew, Hokkian, Hakka dishes.
- Chinese-Indonesian food with recipes borrowed from local Indonesian cuisine, Dutch and other European cuisine.
- Chinese dishes adapted to the local culture and taste, such as replacing pork with chicken or beef to make it halal.
- New style Chinese food with chefs from China, Hong Kong or Taiwan.
List of Chinese Indonesian food
Most of the times, the name of Chinese Indonesian foods are preserved from its original Chinese Hokkien name (e.g. bakmi, bakpau, locupan, lumpia, swikee). However, sometimes the name are derived from the translation of its meanings, ingredients or process in Indonesian (e.g. babi kecap, kakap asam manis, kembang tahu, nasi tim). Some of the typical Chinese Indonesian Food:
- Asinan, cured brined preserved vegetables in thin peanut sauce with krupuk mie.
- Ayam kluyuk, chicken in sweet and sour sauce.
- Babi kecap, pork belly in kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) and spices.
- Bakchang or bacang, glutinous rice stuffed with meat (usually pork) and wrapped in bamboo leaf in triangular form.
- Bakmi, noodles which are adapted to different styles and regions. Each city has its own recipe for noodles or mie, e.g. Bakmi Jawa, Bakmi Bandung, Bakmi Medan, Bakmi Makassar, Bakmi Bangka, etc. 'Bak-Mi' comes from the Hokkien pronunciation for 'Meat-Noodle'.
- Bakpau, Chinese steamed bun, stuffed with chicken, meat (usually pork), sweetened mung beans or red beans paste.
- Bakso, Bak-So is the Hokkien pronunciation for 'Shredded-Meat'.
- Bakwan, Bak-Wan is the Hokkien pronunciation for 'Meat-Ball', usually made from beef.
- Bihun goreng, fried thin rice noodle with spices and chili darkened with kecap manis.
- Cap cai, named for the Hokkian word for a mixture of various types of vegetables. Usually served as stir fried mixed vegetables with chicken when ordered as ala carte.
- Cakwe, Chinese cruller or fried long bread, served with sweet, sour and spicy dipping sauce.
- Fu yung hai, sometimes spelled Pu yung hai, is a type of omelette filled with vegetables and meat (usually crab meat, shrimp or minced chicken) served in sweet and sour sauce.
- Haisom cah, stir fried trepang with garlic, onion, hioko mushroom, scallion, minced chicken, soy sauce and oyster sauce.
- Ifu mie, dried noodle in thick sauce with meat or seafood.
- Ikan malas tim, steamed "lazy fish" or betutu fish (marble goby) in ginger and soy sauce.
- Kakap asam manis, red snapper in sweet and sour sauce.
- Kakap tahu tausi, red snapper with tofu and douchi in tauco sauce.
- Kekian, minced prawn roll (sometimes replaced with fish or chicken), mixed with tapioca, egg, garlic, salt and pepper. Similar with ngo hiong, but with simpler seasoning without five-spice powder. Could be steamed or fried and eaten by itself, or sliced and stir fried mixed in other dishes such as cap cai.
- Kepiting saus tiram, crab in oyster sauce.
- Kwetiau ayam, boiled flat noodle (shahe fen) with diced chicken.
- Kwetiau goreng, fried flat noodle similar to char kuay teow.
- Kwetiau siram sapi, flat noodle with beef in thick gravy.
- Kuping babi kecap, pork ear in sweet soy sauce.
- Laksa, spicy noodle soup of peranakan cuisine, prominent in neighboring Malaysia and Singapore, Indonesian version are Laksa Betawi and Laksa Bogor.
- Lindung cah fumak, eel with stir fried Indian lettuce and fermented red rice.
- Lumpia, a fresh spring roll of Hokkien/Chaozhou-style origin.
- Lontong Cap Go Meh, lontong in rich coconut milk with chicken opor ayam, liver in chilli, sayur lodeh, and telur pindang (marbled egg). A Chinese Indonesian take on Indonesian cuisines dishes served during festive Cap Go Meh.
- Locupan, a Chinese Indonesian name for Lao Shu Fen, short "rat's tail-like" noodle.
- Mie ayam, chicken noodle, yellow wheat noodle topped with diced chicken meat, seasoned with soy sauce, and usually served with a chicken broth soup.
- Mie campur or bakmi campur, assorted meat noodle; yellow wheat noodle topped with an assortment of Chinese barbecue, such as Char Siew, crispy roast pork and sweet pork sausage. Noodle counterpart of Chinese Indonesian nasi campur.
- Mie goreng, fried noodle with spices and chili darkened with kecap manis.
- Mie kering, dried noodle in thick sauce.
- Mie rebus, boiled noodle.
- Mie tarik, lit: "pulled noodle", a local name for la mien.
- Mie yamin, chicken noodle in sweet soy sauce, similar to mie ayam but with sweeter taste acquired from kecap manis.
- Mun tahu, silken tofu with shrimp and minced chicken in thick white sauce.
- Nasi campur, In Chinese Indonesian version, it is rice with an assortment of Chinese barbecue, such as Char Siew, crispy roast pork, sweet pork sausage and pork satay.
- Nasi goreng, fried rice with spices and chili, often add kecap manis, but another variant may differ.
- Nasi Tim, steamed chicken rice served with chicken brooth soup.
- Ngo hiong, minced meat roll (pork, chicken, fish or prawn) seasoned with five-spice powder.
- Otak-otak, steamed and grilled fish cake in banana leaf package, made of fish meat and spices served with spicy peanut sauce.
- Pangsit goreng/kuah, fried wonton or wonton soup.
- Pau, which is the Chinese word for 'bun'; sometimes written as Bak-Pau, literally meaning 'Meat-Bun', which is a bun with meat fillings. (Bak is the Hokkien pronunciation for 'meat'.)
- Pempek, a savoury fishcake made of softly ground wahoo fish and tapioca served with spicy vinegar and palm sugar sauce. Specialty of Palembang city. According to the local legend, the name derived from Ah pek to call the elderly Chinese man that invented and sold the dish.
- Rujak juhi or mie juhi, similar with asinan, cured brined preserved vegetables in thin peanut sauce with krupuk mie, but with addition of yellow noodle and juhi (salted cuttlefish).
- Rujak shanghai, preserved seafood and jellyfish with vegetables and sweet and sour sauce.
- Sate babi, pork satay can be found in Chinatowns in Indonesian cities, especially around Glodok, Pecenongan, and Senen in the Jakarta area. It is also popular in Bali which the majority are Hindus, and also popular in The Netherlands.
- Sapo, Sa-Po which is the Chinese word for 'clay pot', the most popular variant is sapo tahu; silken egg tofu with vegetables, chicken or seafood, cooked in clay pot to keep it warm.
- Soto, is a traditional soup mainly composed of broth, meat and vegetables.
- Soto mie, is a spicy noodle soup dish.
- Siomay, steamed finely ground fish dumplings, similar to Chinese dim sum, but Indonesian version usually served in spicy peanut sauce.
- Sup hisit, shark fin soup.
- Sup sarang burung, edible bird's nest soup.
- Swikee, frog legs dish.
- Tahu Bandung or Tahu Yun Yi, firm but soft tofu with yellow skin coated with turmeric, specialty of Bandung city. Usually served fried or stir fried.
- Tahu goreng, fried tofu with peanut sauce or sweet soy sauce with chopped chili. 'Tau-Hu' also comes from the Chinese word for 'Bean-Curd'.
- Tahu tauco, tofu in tauco sauce.
- Tauge tahu, sometimes shortened to ge-hu, stir fried bean sprout and tofu.
- Telur asin, salted duck egg.
- Telur pitan, black-colored preserved duck egg.
- Telur teh, tea egg.
- Tim daging, steamed minced meat (usually pork) and eggs.
Desserts and sweets
- Bakpia, sweet mung bean-filled pastry from Fujian origin. In Indonesia, it is also widely known as bakpia Pathok, named after a suburb of Yogyakarta which specialises in the pastry.
- Cincau, grass jelly drink served with shaved ice, coconut milk and sugar.
- Dodol cina, or Chinese dodol, the local name for nian gao. The sweet treat of glutinous rice with palm sugar cake is locally known as dodol.
- Kembang tahu, soft tofu pudding in sweet ginger and sugar syrup.
- Kuaci, edible dried and salted watermelon seed or sunflower seed.
- Kue bulan, local name for Chinese mooncake.
- Kue ku, Chinese origin kue of sticky rice flour with sweet filling. The same as Chinese "Ang ku kueh" (Red Tortoise Cake).
- Kue moci, glutinous rice filled with peanut paste and covered with sesame seeds.
- Nopia, palm sugar-filled pastry smaller size than bakpia. In Indonesia it is associated with town of Purbalingga and Banyumas in Central Java.
- Onde-onde, fried glutinous rice ball filled with peanut paste and covered with sesame seeds, local name for jin deui.
- Sekoteng, a ginger-based hot drink which includes peanuts, diced bread, and pacar cina, can be found in Jakarta, West Java, and Yogyakarta
- Tan, Mely G. (2002), "Chinese Dietary Culture in Indonesian Urban Society", in Wu, David Y. H. & Cheung, Sidney C. H., The Globalization of Chinese Food, Honolulu, H.I.: University of Hawaii Press, pp. 152–169, ISBN 978-0-8248-2582-9.
- Media related to Chinese cuisine of Indonesia at Wikimedia Commons