For the newly arrived, Indonesian cuisine can be both the most exciting and bewildering aspect of relocation. Unlike other Southeast Asian countries, especially Thailand and Vietnam, Indonesian cuisine is not a particularly popular option in the West. So, many expats move to Indonesia with only a basic understanding of what to expect when it comes to lunchtime. Sure, we all love nasi goreng and sate ayam, but what other options are out there?
A Hearty Sop Buntut
Sop buntut, or oxtail soup, is a very popular dish across the country. A mix of vegetables, often including carrots, leeks and fried shallots, is served in beef broth with a mix of seasoning and spices up to the cook’s discretion. The shining star of the meal though is the oxtail, which is fried or barbecued and served in the soup.
Snack On Siomay
Siomay becomes ubiquitous across the country each afternoon as office workers and school children hit the streets to fill their stomachs. The snack, which is similar to China’s dim sum, is the perfect mid-afternoon treat. Known as ‘Indonesian dumplings,’ siomay is typically made from a variety of fish, shrimp or tofu and can be served with peanut sauce or chilli sauce. Chinese Indonesian siomay, which sticks closer to the Chinese dim sum, is largely served without sauce.
Dig Into Nasi Uduk
Nasi uduk is a national dish in Indonesia – and for good reason. Originating in Jakarta through the Betawi people, the dish is now found across the country. Featuring rice cooked in coconut milk instead of water as well as spices, the flavour is delicate and fragrant. It is served alongside other dishes instead of plain steamed rice.
Pop Some Pempek
Pempek hails from Palembang, South Sumatra, and is a fishcake delicacy which has taken off around the rest of the country. A combination of fish and tapioca, it is served with a sweet and sour sauce and is enjoyed either as a snack or with noodles as a full meal. It is believed the dish is a mix between traditional dishes and cooking styles introduced by Chinese traders.
The Classic – Indomie
While Indomie, and other brands of instant noodles, are a favourite around the world for students and young adults, Indomie made at a street stall in Indonesia is in a class of its own. Prepared according to the packet’s directions, sellers put their own twist on the classic Indonesian snack. Often adding an egg while preparing the noodles, or with fresh vegetables and chicken or tofu, the snack is a favourite of hard-working students, late-night workers or those who may have partied a little too hard.