Secret Weapon Ingredient #1: Kecap Manis

Get ready to have your presentation skills raised to the next level. This is one of the best secret ingredients you’ll ever discover: kecap manis, a thick, sweet soy sauce from Indonesia.

kecap manis

I often bring bottles of kecap manis for students when I do cooking lessons, especially if we’re doing fish. And you’ll see it in various recipes on this blog. Similar to a variety of labor-intensive sauces in an array of cultures — Japanese unagi sauce, balsamic reductions in Italian cuisine, wine reductions in French cooking, for example — it is rich and multi-layered, suggesting familiar tastes you can’t quite place. Which makes it very adaptable to a number of uses. What I use it for the most accenting dishes — usually fish or meat — with a design flourish just before serving. See the below shot.

Tuna crudo with salmon roe, tempura shiso leaf and kecap manis

I get my kecap manis at the Simpang Asia Indonesian market on National Blvd., if you happen to live in L.A.  If not, you can get it online. Here’s a source online, don’t know if they’re good or not (otherwise, Google it):

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. paul
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 11:18:45

    If you are ever in Winter Park, FLA there’s a really good Asian grocery store,–a little family run place–the Dong A on 17-92 a couple of blocks north of Colonial Drive. I love their pharmacy with herbal remedies.


  2. scolgin
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 14:14:47

    That’s a long Dong away!


  3. g
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 17:43:05

    That looks like something worth seeking out. Great idea.


  4. nickichai
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 17:05:11

    LOVE ketjap manis! I get a big 1-liter size at the Holland-America store in Bellflower. Lasts me for years but it never goes bad. You can also purchase online if you can’t make the trip out there ( I have been there in person and can vouch for their large selection of Dutch and Indo foods. Also have bought online from HollandsBest ( in San Jose, CA.

    Just discovered your blog. Do you really hate quinoa? See my website, I posted a recipe for a delicious quinoa & black bean salad that even my kids love 🙂


  5. scolgin
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 17:29:14

    I don’t really hate quinoa. But every blog needs an arch enemy. ; )


  6. Trackback: To Market, To Market… « skinny girls & mayonnaise

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