By: Ilona Salim
Apart from the firework of flavors, eating seafood back in Jakarta is a tradition that heavily ties to the idea of togetherness.
Coming from a country named as the world’s largest archipelago with more than 17,000 islands, you shouldn’t be surprised by how much I miss indulging in Indonesia’s endless spread of seafood dishes. From the Ikan Bakar (grilled fish in sweet soy sauce), Kerang Ijo Saus Padang (Indonesian green mussels with chili sauce), Cumi Goreng Tepung (fried squid), and of course the crabs in every variety of sauce you can think of, ordering is a constant struggle. Let’s not even get started on the many types of sambal.
Apart from the firework of flavors, eating seafood back in Jakarta is a tradition that heavily ties to the idea of togetherness. The sense of community is ingrained in the family-style eating, the bustling conversations as you work through your seafood and of course, the spread. The spread, ideally as varied as the ocean, ensures that every single person has at least one of their favorite dishes ordered. Ahh… this makes me miss home.
My go-to dish is definitely the crab - it’s a staple. One of my favorites is the Kepiting Saus Padang, which is somewhat equivalent to the Indonesian Chili Crab. This sauce is a literal explosion in your mouth with the perfect blend of spicy and sweet! Recently, I’ve been missing it so much and I just can’t stop thinking about it, so we tried to recreate it here at our house in Davis, California. Disclaimer: It is definitely difficult to recreate the flavor with the absence of the abundant Asian spices available in Indonesia. That being said, we hope you enjoy our modified version of the Indonesian Chili Crab. Enjoy!
THE RECIPE - Kepiting Saus Padang / Indonesian Chili Crab (simplified)
Serves: 4 - 5
2 boiled crabs -
Tip: I asked Ranch 99 to boil the crabs for me upon purchase. Alternatively, you can buy raw crabs and boil them yourself
5 tbsp of cooking oil
1 large egg
2 tbsp oyster sauce (or Gluten Free oyster sauce)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
3 tbsp sweet chili sauce; we used the brand Sambal Belibis
150 ml chicken stock
80 ml water; adjust according to taste
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 stalk of green onion (chopped)
1 tsp sugar
3 pieces of dried bay leaves
5 Kaffir lime leaves or lime zest
½ tsp of chicken bouillon powder (optional : for an extra kick)
5 cloves of shallots
3 cloves of garlic
10 Thai chili (or Indonesian chili peppers)
2 cm of ginger
1 tbsp turmeric powder
Toast candlenuts for about 3 minutes on low to medium heat in a pan.
Blend together the ingredients for the grounded spices using a food processor or a blender. Use 1 to 2 tablespoon of water to help it blend well.
In a wok, heat up the oil, and sautéed the grounded spice with green onions, bay leaves, and lime leaves until fragrant.
Crack and whisk an egg in a separate small bowl.
Mix the rest of the ingredients for the sauce (oyster sauce, tomato ketchup, chili sauce, salt, pepper, chicken stock, and sugar) into the wok.
Add water slowly and adjust to your taste.
Add in the boiled crab into the wok.
Simmer and add the whisked egg.