Lontong Cap Go Meh
|Place of origin||Indonesia|
|Created by||Chinese Indonesians in Java|
|Main ingredients||Lontong topped with opor ayam, sayur lodeh, sambal goreng ati, pindang telur, koya powder, sambal, and krupuk|
Lontong Cap Go Meh is a Peranakan Chinese Indonesian take on traditional Indonesian dishes, more precisely Javanese cuisine. It is lontong rice cake served with richly-flavoured dishes which includes opor ayam chicken in coconut milk, sayur lodeh vegetables soup, hot and spicy liver, hard boiled pindang egg, koya powder made of soy and dried shrimp or beef floss, pickles, chili paste and prawn cracker. Lontong cap go meh usually consumed by Chinese Indonesian community during Cap go meh celebration.
Lontong cap go meh is actually not a single dish but more of a set of meal with several side dishes, served in similar fashion to nasi campur or nasi Bali. It is a combination of several Javanese favourite dishes—each often prepared and cooked separately—and combined in a single plate prior of serving. The rich combination of flavourful dishes demonstrates the festive nature of the dish, which is traditionally consumed during Cap go meh in Java. The components of lontong cap go meh are:
- Lontong: elongated rice cake cooked in banana leaf
- Opor ayam: chicken stew in coconut milk and spices
- Sayur lodeh: vegetables in coconut milk soup, sometimes replaced by sayur labu siam (chayote in coconut milk soup)
- Sambal goreng ati: beef liver fried in sambal chili paste
- Telur pindang: hard boiled marble egg
- Koya powder: a mixture of ground fried soybeans and dried shrimp powder, sometimes replaced or added with abon (beef floss)
- Acar: pickles, usually consists of cucumber, carrot, shallot and birds-eye chili
- Sambal: spiced chili paste with terasi shrimp paste
- Kerupuk: prawn cracker, sometimes replaced by emping cracker
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 also took another way around. Vice versa, peranakan Chinese Indonesian cuisine has also been influenced by native Indonesian cuisine. It is believed that lontong cap go meh is a peranakan Chinese Indonesian take on traditional Indonesian dishes.
Early Chinese immigrants in Indonesia settled in northern coastal cities of Java, such as Semarang, Pekalongan, Lasem, Tuban and Surabaya, as early as Majapahit period. During that time only male Chinese settled in Java and they intermarried with local Javanese women and create a Javanese-Chinese Peranakan culture. These early Chinese immigrants has become accustomed to the cooking of their Javanese wives. To celebrate Chinese New Year, during Cap go meh, peranakan of Java replaced the traditional yuanxiao (rice ball) with local lontong accompanied with array of Javanese dishes such as opor ayam and sambal goreng ati (spicy beef liver). It is believed that the dish reflect the assimilation among Chinese immigrants and local Javanese community. It is believed that lontong cap go meh conceived good fortune symbols; the thick rice cake is considered richer compared to thin watery bubur (rice congee) which is often associated as food of poors. The elongated form of lontong also symbolize longevity. While eggs symbolize good fortune and yellowish turmeric-coconut milk broth represents gold and fortune.
Lontong Cap Go Meh was strictly a Peranakan-Javanese phenomena; peranakans in Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo are not familiar with this dish. It is commonly associated with Imlek traditions of Chinese Indonesians in Javan cities, especially Semarang. Since Betawi people (native Jakartans) was also heavily influenced by Chinese Indonesian peranakan culture, Lontong Cap Go Meh is also considered as one of Betawi cuisine.
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