Samarinda is the capital city of the East Kalimantan located in the island of Borneo in Indonesia. I’ve never been there myself. Thinking about it, I’ve never been to many of the wonderful islands in Indonesia (it’s a shame I know!). I will make that happen though !
This particular dish, called gang asam is the specialty from Samarinda. The best cut of beef for this recipe is short ribs, or tulang iga in Bahasa Indonesia language. In her The Indonesian Kitchen cookbook, Sri Owen mentioned that this dish is for an everyday dish, loved by children and adults, who would usually eat the ribs by hand with plenty of boiled rice. Like many other dishes, most of the dish are eaten with rice.
The recipe calls for daun kedondong to add sourness to the dish. Needless to say, daun kedondong is not something that you can just pick up from any grocery stores, not even the ethnic stores That’s one of the things that is very frustrating for me to cook Indonesian dishes when you live overseas, most of the spices are difficult to find, if I do find them, they are mostly frozen or pickled. Mainly because some spices, herbs and ingredients aren’t traveled well in fresh form. Of course there are substitution you can use, it’s just that sometimes they just aren’t the same. The suggested substitution for daun kedondong is rhubarb stalk or young grape leaves, or tamarind water or asam gelugur.
I used grape leaves in this recipe and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result. This was my first time cooking with grape leaves and it’s delicious! It tasted weird at first but it got addicting. My husband loves this dish so much. I love how fragrant it is from the lemongrass, the kaffir lime leaves and all the other spices. Yum!
Gang asam (Braised ribs from Samarinda)
- 2 ¼ lb or a little more of short rib back rib, or rib of beef
- 1 lemongrass stem crushed at the thick end, and cut across into three
- 2 salam leaves/bay leaves
- ¾ inch piece of galangal/lengkuas
- 4 fresh red chilis seeded and each cut into 4 pieces
- 4 fresh green chilis seeded and each cut into 4 pieces
- 6 shallots or 1 large onion finely sliced
- 4 garlic cloves finely sliced
- 1 tsp crumbled shrimp paste/terasi
- 1 tsp salt or little more to taste
- 2 oz daun kedondong or 4 inch rhubarb stalk chopped, or 10-15 young grape leaves, shredded, or 3 Tbsp tamarind water or 2 slices of asam gelugur
- Trim away some of the excess fat from the beef. Put the meat in a large saucepan. Add 5-7 cups cold water and the lemongrass, salam or bay leaves, and galangal
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 50 minutes, skimming often. By now the water has reduced a little; add the chilis, shallots or onion, garlic, shrimp paste and salt. Continue to simmer for 25-30 minutes, turning the meat several times
- Adjust the seasoning of the liquid with a little more salt if needed, then add the kedondong or whichever other souring agent you choose. Continue cooking, turning the meat more often now, for about 10 minutes. Discard the salam, galangal, lemongrass (and asam gelugur if using)
- If one-bone rib or thin rib are used, cut the joint into thick slices. Serve hot with the sauce and rice