home-made kecap manis

So, Sunday morning after my nice rice porridge, I did try to carry on with the cleaning but, frankly, by lunchtime, I was losing the will to live…seeing as the kitchen was spick and span, and I’d done all the washing up and put it all away, it seemed like the perfect time to make a nice big mess ehem, make some sauces and condiments 🙂
They are all really quick and simple, most of them store pretty well (not that they last that long in my house), are useful if you live far away from specialist shops and contain no msg.

Kecap manis – ketjap manis is a sweet thick soy sauce from Indonesia. In some countries outside of Indonesia, in Holland, for example, you can find a good quality brand quite easily, but in the UK it’s really hit and miss – loads of brands have got an overpowering molasses/treacle flavour and it goes off after a while. If you only use it occasionally or you live on your own, this is expensive and annoying.
I use it for Mee Goreng – an Indonesian version of Chow Mien and I also add it to vegetarian versions of dishes which traditionally use Chinese Bacon.

Ingredients for basic version
1 part soy sauce – I use half light soy and half dark, as dark on it’s own is still too treacle-tasting for me.

1 part palm sugar (jaggary), grated- you can use ordinary sugar, but jaggery has got a lovely complex almost buttery flavour – it keeps for years. Chinese and Indian stores sell it quite cheaply – Sainsbury’s little jars are exorbitant.

Combine soy and sugar in a small pan and heat gently until sugar has dissolved, then boil for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture begins to go a bit syrupy – keep an eye on it…you don’t want it to burn. Allow to cool and transfer to a bottle – store in the fridge if you haven’t got sterilised bottles.
I use one of those little enamel pots for turkish coffee to cook mine, so I can literally make a couple of tablespoons at a time.
Some people make versions flavoured with garlic, star anise, coriander and galangal – I rarely bother, but if you want to do this, then infuse the soy with the spices at a low simmer, then strain, then proceed as above with the sugar. Make it in small batches – it will last for a couple of months if you store it in the fridge.


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