Kecap Manis, Easy Indonesian Condiment
Kecap manis is a classic Indonesian condiment, as beloved at the table as it is in many well-loved Indonesian foods — like satay and nasi goreng. It’s difficult to find in many parts of the world. However, it’s easy to make at home in just 15 minutes!
My love affair with Indonesian food began in Kathmandu. As crazy as it sounds, many years ago — when my husband and I used to visit Nepal on business semi-regularly — nasi goreng was a staple of Nepali restaurant menus. So, it was one of many tasty foods I came to know and love in Nepal.
However, for many years thereafter, I was hamstrung. I lived in various corners of the world where I could get all of the ingredients necessary for our beloved nasi goreng — except the essential kecap manis. Its unique salty, sweet, and fragrant taste is essential to a delicious and authentic plate of Indonesian fried rice. Without it, the flavour is always just a little off.
So, you can imagine my delight when I discovered just how easy kecap manis is to make at home! A handful of ingredients and a few minutes of time are all that’s needed to create this delicious sauce at home. So, no matter where you live on the planet, there’s no reason not to indulge in a little nasi goreng from time to time!
About This Recipe
As I said, kecap manis is super easy to make at home. There are only a couple of simple points to consider in preparing this delicious and essential Indonesian condiment.
- Sugar. Traditionally, kecap manis is made with palm sugar — which adds its own unique flavour. If you can get it, palm sugar adds a uniquely authentic flavour. If not, you can use white sugar (as written in the recipe) or brown sugar. I sometimes add a little molasses or date syrup to make the flavour slightly more complex. However, it’s really not necessary.
- Soy Sauce. I have always used dark soy sauce to make my kecap manis. I prefer its colour and its intensity. However, many other people use light soy sauce to make this sauce. It’s a matter of personal preference. So, it’s entirely up to you which soy you select. However, do choose a brand of soy sauce you like, as you will taste the flavour of the sauce very clearly in this condiment.
- Seasoning. As with any condiment, seasoning really depends on your personal taste. I have included ginger, garlic, and star anise in the recipe because those are my preferred flavour additions. Without the star anise, in particular, I always feel like something is missing. However, you can opt to use one of these items, some of them, or none at all. Other common flavour additions include cinnamon, black pepper, coriander, cloves, and lemongrass. So, feel free to experiment to get the flavour profile you prefer.
- Cooking. This is a quick cooking project. However, it is essential that you make it when you have time to monitor the stove. Sugar takes just a moment to go from 0 to 100 and can quickly boil over. I like to bring my ingredients up to the boil on medium heat and then switch the heat down to medium-low to keep it at a good simmer for 10 minutes, or just until it is reduced and syrupy. (Remember, the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.)
I sincerely hope your family enjoys making this simple, delicious Indonesian condiment, and that you enjoy it with a range of delicious meals. Bon appétit!
Use Kecap Manis In these Recipes