Indonesian Food

I will sum up Indonesian food in one word: Good. Alright, now we’re done!

Before coming here, I had no idea what Indonesian food would be like! Turns out it is kind of like Thai and Chinese mixed together. Here are a few of our favorite dishes:

Nasi Goreng with recipe here

Nasi Goreng: Fried rice. This fried rice has onion, garlic, veggies, eggs, and a protein of choice. Landon loves fried rice and so usually I get chicken for him.

Mie Goreng; Fried noodles. Same thing as above but with noodles instead of rice.

Cap cay: This can either be served stir-fried or in a soup. It is a collection of veggies- carrots, cauliflower, leafy greens, cabbage, served with tofu or chicken in a sauce or broth. Apparently it is Chinese Indonesian in origin and means mixed vegetables. I eat it with steamed white rice thrown into the broth and it is pretty yummy. Quality of the broth can vary widely, I have found, but d Best restaurant in downtown Cilacap has a delicious version.

Cap cay, credit and recipe here

Fried chicken: There are very few restaurants in Cilacap. There are three fried chicken establishments in the downtown area, along with food carts selling fried chicken. Our favorite here is KFC- which tastes better here than in America. It is also more healthy because instead of french fries or biscuits or mashed potatoes as a side, they have rice balls. So a perfectly acceptable meal here is one piece of fried chicken and a ball of white rice. Landon likes chicken nuggets and Austin likes to order these hashbrown-like things called perkedels with his chicken. Interesting fact: perkedels are Dutch in origin, but since the Dutch ruled Indonesia for a long time they brought them over to the islands with them! They are mashed potato and meat dumplings.

Fish/Seafood: We live in a fishing village. I know many locals eat fish for each meal. Our friend, Mrs. Titi, was just about to kill some small catfish for dinner last time we visited. We do not eat seafood as much as we should because many of the fish here taste like dirt. We did go to an ocean-side seafood restaurant on Teluk Penyu beach and had the most amazing grilled fish. It is too far to walk at night, though, so we haven’t been back. Austin regularly gets dishes with squid, and I stick with mostly chicken. I have tried crab and we had amazing lobster in a Balinese spicy soy sauce blend with peppers at that same seafood restaurant. We should really go back there!

Chicken skewers, recipe here

Sate Ayam or Sapi: This is skewered, cooked meat served with a peanut sauce. It is my favorite and is usually served with rice.

Gado-Gado: This is a tofu and cooked vegetable salad with peanut sauce as the dressing. We had it for the first time in Yogyakarta, and then again in Bali and I am a fan. The vegetables include potato, bean sprouts, carrot, beans, and anything else they have on hand!

Gado Gado, recipe here

Bakso: meat balls. Austin orders this with his noodles at d Best restaurant. The little meatballs come in a yummy broth, but I just don’t like meatballs in general so I’ve never tried it. Side note: there are roaming carts all over the city with noodles and meatballs sitting on a shelf in the window of the cart. If you want meatballs, they drop the noodles and the meatballs into a boiling pot of water, and then they put it in a dish and you eat it. Usually it is a real china or glass dish, so you sit and eat, and then give it back and they wash it for another person. Needless to say we don’t eat street food because these carts do not have air conditioning and there is just meat sitting there for who knows how long!

Bubur Ayam, credit here,recipe in Indonesian

Bubur Ayam: Rice porridge. This is basically smushed up rice mixed with chicken broth and chicken. It is served with chili sauce, soy sauce, fried onions, and rice crackers. I see many Indonesians eating this for breakfast at the hotel. The instant version of the porridge is actually a really yummy lunch if I heat up water with our tea kettle to make it.

There are many dishes that are basically Chinese in origin, including black pepper beef, sweet and sour chicken/fish, etc. One thing that is hard to find here is pork, because Muslims don’t eat it. Only the big buffets at the hotels in Jakarta have bacon for breakfast. Here in Cilacap, they have catfish, pigeon, duck, and frog on the menu. Yikes!

I’m still trying to figure out what locals eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In Bali, they explained that all the cooking is done in the morning for the whole day. I’m not sure if that’s the case here. Mrs. Titi has an interesting mixture of cooked fresh corn, milk and cheese every morning for breakfast. Much to my dismay, she shares a lot of it with Landon! The whole time I am just praying he doesn’t get sick. In Bali, they made rice and cooked sweet potatoes and mashed it together and put it in banana leaves. That was delicious! I asked Mrs. Titi what she makes and she said that she does not even grocery shop- she and her husband go to small restaurants around their house (basically other people’s houses) to buy meals. I think many people do this- or they have their favorite food cart or pop-up restaurant. Prepared food prices are so cheap here that it does not break the budget to go out to eat every day.

Other things we have been eating here, that are definitely not Indonesian include:

– Papa Ron’s Pizza: They have pasta, pizza, calzones galore! A few things that differ is that none of the meat is pork, so the meat tastes different, and they put sesame seeds on the crust, which actually tastes really good! They have some interesting Indonesian flavored pizzas as well as traditional and BBQ pizzas. We have Friday night pizza night each week and we look forward to it each time we go!

– A&W: I have seen more A&W restaurants in Indonesia than I have seen in America. It is great because they don’t have rootbeer everywhere here, so we go and get icy rootbeer mugs and life is great. However, there is not one in Cilacap, so our A&W adventures have to wait until Jakarta. They serve burgers and fried chicken here.

– Japanese: There is a department store in Cilacap with a food court on the top floor. We had teriyaki chicken and beef there. It was good.

So you see, we don’t starve. We miss salads, and not thinking about the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables. I miss berry smoothies made without milk and we both crave MEXICAN food regularly, but I like Indonesian food much better than Korean and Indian food. The end. 

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