Vermicelli rice noodles are piled with fresh cucumber, crispy tofu, dressed with delicious peanut dressing, Indonesian kecap manis and crispy shallots! Utterly delicious!
I’ve mentioned before in my other post about the short 1 year of time that I spent in Jakarta. How much I missed home and everything! At the same time, I had a small group of friends from the same high school I graduated from and other Medanese friends that truly made my days so much more bearable and less homesick.
I was forever grateful that some of us lived so close together during that time. It’s nice to be able to have dinner together with familiar faces instead of eating alone. One of the unforgettable moments to me was this Ketoprak. It was (still is) one of my favorite foods. We don’t have Ketoprak in Medan, so when I discovered this popular street food in Jakarta, it was my frequent choice for dinner! So yummy and fulfilling not to mention inexpensive (remember poor college kid?). They guy was selling Ketoprak in a push cart just right in front of the house we rented.
Ketoprak usually consists of rice stick noodles, bean sprouts, fried tofu, some serve with lontong (rice cake steamed in banana leaves), peanut sauce and crackers.
It’s a heavy salad if you ask me. It’s a complete meal on its own. Even without any tofu and hard-boiled eggs, the peanut dressing has good source of protein on its own!
If you ever heard of Indonesian popular Gado Gado, don’t be mistaken with Ketoprak. Both are served with peanut dressing, but gado gado usually has more vegetables and to me, it must have boiled potato slices in there. Ketoprak doesn’t have potatoes and it has vermicelli rice noodles that gado gado doesn’t have. The dressing in gado gado is a bit richer with the addition of coconut milk too. I like both of them!
Indonesian food often calls for Kecap Manis 😉 That’s few of the things that my mom packed for me when I first moved to Minnesota 7.5 years ago. What if there’s no kecap manis there? It’s a valid concern y’all! Indonesians can’t live without kecap manis 🙂
And another thing that I can’t survive without is the bawang goreng (crispy fried shallots). My sister in law in Medan made the BEST bawang goreng ever! I wish I could replicate that here, but it’s impossible to find the right shallots to do so here. Whenever someone comes or goes back for a visit, 2 big boxes of bawang goreng are always part of the trip!
Ketoprak / Vermicelli tofu salad and peanut dressing
- 1 block of firm tofu
- 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
- 250 gr dry rice stick noodles / bee hoon
- 3 cloves garlic
- 6 red chilis more if you like it spicier
- 100 gr roasted peanuts see notes
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2-inch block of tamarind paste
- 200 ml warm water
- 2-3 Thai chili more if you like it spicier
- Indonesian sweet soy sauce
- Fried shallots
- Prawn crackers or whatever crackers you like
- 2 hard-boiled eggs quartered
- 1 large cucumber
Blanch the rice stick noodles briefly in hot water until it softens but not mushy. Drain and then refresh with cold water. Set aside. You can also blanch the raw garlic briefly if you don't like the raw taste of it
Peel the cucumber and then half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop the seeds out. Cut into 1-inch slices
Making the peanut dressing:
Mix the tamarind paste with warm water. Once it softens, use the back of the spoon to mash the tamarind and then discard the solid. In a food processor, blend the peanuts, garlic, chilis, tamarind juice, and sugar. Process into a thick but pourable consistency. You can add a bit more water if it's too thick. Season with salt to your taste
Preparing the tofu:
I place the block of tofu on an absorbent paper towel and then another layer of paper towel on top of the tofu. Place a heavy object like cast iron pot or pan on top of the tofu for about 15 minutes to press all the extra liquid out. Cut the tofu into 2-inch chunks. You can deep fry the tofu or pan fry it with a little bit of oil on the pan until all sides are golden brown. Set aside
In a large serving plate, place the noodles, cucumber slices, bean sprouts, fried tofu, and egg pieces. Pour sauce over and garnish with fried shallots, a drizzle of kecap manis. Serve with prawn crackers
You can sub the roasted peanuts with creamy/chunky peanut butter. It's up to you. You may need to play with the amount of liquid so that it's thick but still somewhat pourable
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